Naugatuck Valley Community College hosted the inaugural Student Affairs Professional Day focused on best practices for supporting our students in Founders Hall Center for Health Sciences on the Waterbury campus. The event was attended by Student Services professionals throughout the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System. NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., and Dr. Jane McBride Gates, Provost/Senior Vice President Academic and Student Affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) delivered the opening remarks. President De Filippis welcomed the attendees. “This is a day for learning, reflecting and strategizing as we collaborate on behalf of our students. There are so many challenges in terms of the needs of some of our students, from recovering from a torn social fabric, to filling educational gaps and addressing multiple abilities. I need not tell that to this group. Nevertheless, hope, kindness and good will should accompany special expertise so much in demand. We are happy to support conversations and education programs designed to empower our multiple educational communities and to assist in the transformation of lives.”
Dr. Jane McBride Gates, Provost/Senior Vice President Academic and Student Affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) told the audience, “Student affairs has never been more important on campus than it is today. During the past 10 years, a movement called student success has made greater completion rates, equity and social mobility institutional responsibilities, and at the center of this movement is Student Affairs,” said Jane Gates, CSCU Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “The pressing complexities of the campus environment for students - mental health, emotional service animals, an opioid crisis, and an increased minoritized student population - when combined with the societal and institutional demands for accountability, safety and return on investment have created a student affairs environment that demands careful planning, strategic thinking, managerial skill and much soul-searching. Campus leadership in student affairs today is not for the faint of heart.”
Keynote speaker, Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown, Director of College Autism Spectrum and former Director of Student Services University of Connecticut School of Law addressed the issue of how higher education supports College Students on the autism spectrum. “How Do We Best Support Their Academic Success?”
In addition, a roster of speakers addressed disability services, gender-based violence on campus, job searching using social media, the opioid crisis and Narcan, talking to student survivors of sexual assault, holistic college wellness, social and emotional well-being of students, using regional jobs data through Career Coach.
The afternoon’s keynote speaker, Robin Hammeal-Urban, Adjunct Faculty TCC, Canon for Integrity & Training, Episcopal Church in CT spoke about Supporting Our Students During Times of Change.
Closing remarks and next steps followed. NVCC’s Dean of Student Services, Chairperson of the Dean of Student Services System-wide Council, and initiator of the event, Sarah Gager, commented on the success of the inaugural event to highlight best practices for serving students. “Collaborating with colleagues throughout our 17 institutions to identify best practices to support our students on their educational journey plays a significant role in student success. Working together, we continue to seek ways to lessen or eliminate barriers to help them achieve their academic goals”.
Dr. Kim McGinnis, Dean of Student Services, Housatonic Community College, commented on the event, “Today's student affairs professional development day was well attended and demonstrated the need for encouraging collaboration and conversation within all sectors of our Connecticut higher education system. Opening remarks from Provost Gates reinforced the importance of student affairs in the retention and completion of our students and the strong support from our system office.”