The ‘Heartbeat’ of the Campus: Engaged Students

Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau joins Provost Jennie Hunter-Cevera and Director of the Institute for Leadership, Dana Sauers, to integrate students, faculty and administrators for the purpose of helping students succeed. This fall semester, Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau has been given the title of Associate Provost for Student Engagement and Success.

“Engagement and success is a partnership between the student and the Mount,” explained Whetsel-Ribeau. She maintains that students must have high expectations of themselves and commit to academic and personal achievement. The Mount must be committed to “providing academic and social support that leads to an extraordinary learning experience.”

According to Whetsel-Ribeau, the Mount needs to reshape the classroom and campus environment to appeal to students and make it easier to access the services available.

She calls students the “heartbeat” of the Center for Student Engagement and Success. The center will rely upon them for guidance and improvement.

All members of the Mount community have a role to play in CSES. Every person has an opinion, and those will be needed in the institutional and systematic action portions of campus.

President Tim Trainor has indicated his support for CSES as student success is a high priority.  He has encouraged CSES to continue with the magnificent work they are doing.

“What’s most exciting about the center is that it will empower students to develop a clear road map in helping them become the best version of themselves,” said Whetsel-Ribeau. She stressed that success is inevitable with students’ high expectations of excellence from themselves and “intentional, structured, and integrated forms collaborative action from all members of the Mount community.”

The end goal of CSES is to have a one-stop location for services available to students to not only plan their course of action to succeed, but also to execute and act on their individual plan.

“We hope to have students spend time, energy and effort in educationally-purposeful activities that will enhance their learning experiences academically, personally and professionally,” Whetsel-Ribeau stated.

Three advisory councils including students, faculty and staff created a draft mission statement, vision and goals over the summer. Some of these goals include academic support for students and encouraging the community to engage in a sense of belonging for every member of the campus.

The center’s mission statement states: “The Center for Student Engagement and Success at Mount St. Mary’s University is a resource for self-growth and discovery that seeks to build confidence and character of Mount students through face-to-face communication and mentoring services in a safe and welcoming environment. The Center strives to meet students where they are and to empower, encourage and motivate them toward academic, personal and professional success through healthy relationships with peers, faculty, administration and staff.  It is a network of relationships that utilizes university resources in support of a student success framework.”

“I’m excited about the center’s new effort to ensure student success, in all aspects of their lives– academic, professional and personal,” said Dr. Mike Miller, member of the Faculty Advisory Council of CSES. “Much good will come from this focused work as the center will empower our students to use their many gifts and do even more with their lives,” added Miller.

CSES is a “hub of support systems,” said Sauers. She wants students to be “happily engaged.”  CSES and ILS support each other and have similar goals of assisting students to be the best they can be. Sauers is attending four to five meetings per day to get a sense of what should be available to the students.

Hunter-Cevera has provided leadership, opportunities and support for ILS and Sauers expressed great respect for her.

Assistant Director of the Institute for Leadership, Michael Hoover, also plays a key role at CSES. Sauers stated that she could not go on efficiently without him.   

Both Sauers and Whetsel-Ribeau demonstrated their perseverance of creating opportunities and expanding the potential of all students.

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