Vice president speaks on changes visible on campus

TAYLOR LIFKA

Opinion Editor

Denison is a dynamic institution, characterized by constant change and activity. The community thrives on progress, and this year is no different than the rest.

Laurel Kennedy, Denison’s vice president for student development, discussed the current state of the university late last week. She spoke of changes and goals for the coming year, ways in which faculty and students are encouraged to advance in the classroom and beyond, and Denison’s commitment to continued success.

Dr. Kennedy is urging students to take advantage of the resources on MyDension this year more than ever before. She encouraged students to take a close look at the student development research link, a conglomeration of different reports and trends. This is all information collected from students. Information includes financial well being reports, trends of student mental and physical health, college senior surveys, and so much more. “Here in Student Development we’re like a sponge, it’s our job to gather and process relevant information and then give it back to the community.”

Another area that Kennedy highlighted on MyDension was the Campus Climate Watch.  “You can go here to stay in tune with what’s happening at Denison. It was originally created because things happened on campus that weren’t being heard about. Reports are now updated monthly.  It’s our chance to say here’s what happened and here’s how the University dealt with it. Campus Climate Watch is not a new feature, but a lot of work goes into updating its information. It should be utilized by all students.”

When asked about whether or not she was proud of where Denison stood today, Kennedy didn’t hesitate to say yes. She spoke of three different areas in which she encourages those in Student Development to focus their energy for continued excellence at our University.

  1. Innovation in their work

“I always want to see interesting programing happening at Denison.  I never want us to do the same thing over and over again, or to do something simply because it worked at another school. Our students are unique and therefore deserve programming to meet their needs.”

  1. A year of thoughtful and engaged and informed campus dialogue due to the social climate of the time

“Dension is in such a great place right now. Enrollment is up, curriculum is forward thinking, changes are being made. We’re in this great place, and I hope that we will be moved by that excellence to do great work and to thrive in great conversation.”

  1. Continuing to conduct research to hear student voices.

“Last Spring a survey was conducted on student development. Every unit contributed questions, and changes were made directly from the data collected. We have made changes to the code of conduct regarding restorative justice and conduct boards. We took into consideration student concerns regarding financial well-being, employment wages, hours allowed to work, etc.”

In continued efforts to hear directly from the student body, a survey was conducted to hear back from Denison alumni 5 years out. The data collected was extremely encouraging in terms of success post grad. “Within six months of graduation, Denison alumni are employed or enrolled in graduate school or engaged in a prestigious service opportunity like a Fulbright Teaching Award or the Peace Corps.”  It seems the numbers speak for themselves: 5 years out from graduation 99% of alumni are currently employed or in graduate school, 93% are working in their desired field or position or on their way to achieving their professional goals.

Denison is simultaneously making strides toward implementing changes in places where students did not feel as well prepared. While alumni reported great strength in the Denison curriculum, especially in areas of critical thinking skills and oral and written communication, some alumni discussed gaps in skills such as data analysis and business skills. “Continued expansion in curriculum now offers the chance for students to take classes in new majors like that of Data Analytics and Global Commerce and innovative programming in Career Exploration.”