JOYCE BYLANDER, VICE PRESIDENT AND DEAN OF STUDENT LIFE
This past year was spent solidifying our goals and objectives for providing layered support for our students. We believe that we have evidence of success as indicated by an increase in first-to-second year retention rates, from our already strong 90.4 percent to 91.9 percent.
As we prepared to welcome the class of 2019—at 731, the largest class in our history—we were mindful about making sure that these students have the same positive experiences that last year’s students did. We increased the number of college deans, and our Dean’s Council has developed thoughtful and intentional oversight and outreach to our students. The First-Year Interest Group (FIG) program continues to evolve and grow, as do the Pre-Orientation Adventures and other initiatives we put into place last year.
Student Leadership & Campus Engagement (SLCE) also expanded its intramural opportunities, added group outings to nearby cities for cultural events and launched weekly leadership lunches (for all students).
The larger-than-expected class has provided us with an opportunity to make renovations to the lower level of Allison Hall. These renovations will expand social space at a time when we have had to use some lounge spaces as quads for the large first-year class. We added televisions and furniture to the Community Room and created a game room and two additional lounge meeting spaces, which also are available for use by the Office of Conference & Special Events.
The next step for us is ensuring that our students are fully engaged as active members of the campus community the entire four years they are here, and we continue to work closely with the Office of Academic Advising to create that experience for our students. To that end we are working collaboratively to develop the Dickinson Four: These four “big questions” will help us frame the experience and provide opportunities for students to craft their own narrative about their time here. The big questions begin with who, what, where and how.
Our message to first-year students is “Make Dickinson Yours.” Our sophomore theme is “Discover What Matters.” The year is full of important decisions. Themes for the junior and senior years are in development. In addition to support from faculty and college deans, the Center for Global Study & Engagement, Career Center, SLCE, the Wellness Center and the Center for Service, Spirituality & Social Justice, to name a few, are poised to help our students understand and navigate all their choices.