By Michelle Dunn
When one of Brendan Morrison’s students lost access to his computer during term two, Morrison was so determined to help that he almost bought him a new one.
The student, who has use of only one arm, had a computer with special voice software issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs that was being fixed. Without it, he couldn’t do his work.
“He faces obstacles every day, so I really wanted to do everything possible to make sure he was able to succeed,” said Morrison, a military advisor and Navy veteran.
This mentality, to do everything possible to help and to never give up on a student who is putting in the effort to succeed, drives COCE staff and faculty. Now the university has formalized this mindset with a list of COCE Service and Support Behaviors to which all staff aspire.
In this case, Morrison persisted and eventually obtained a staff loaner computer for the student. Information Technology Services loaded it with the special voice software the student needed.
“He passed the term with flying colors,” Morrison said.
The behaviors apply to student-facing areas across the organization. For those who don’t work directly with students, it’s about how we seek to interact to address student needs, says Vice President of Advising and Student Success Amelia Manning.
“It means always seeking to provide an unparalleled level of care and support for our students,” says Manning. “We seek to anticipate students’ needs. We live these behaviors every day in how we support our students, but crystallizing those behaviors across the organization has challenged us to do so even more effectively.”
The behaviors clearly outline expectations for those who work with students, yet also resonate with those in departments that don’t.
Course developers, for example, strive to consistently apply the behaviors to their interactions with subject-matter experts and faculty, said Amy Stevens, associate vice president of eLearning.
Examples include making sure subject-matter experts working during the course design process have what they need to be successful on day one, providing thorough learning resources training for faculty and responding quickly and positively to their design feedback queries.
It means providing logical navigation, populating courses with instructional videos and announcements and making sure activities are meaningful for students, Stevens says.
“The behaviors are things we are committed to; we are just formalizing them,” Stevens said. “That’s why it’s successful – this is our culture. The COCE Service and Support Behaviors document is a reminder and a polishing of who we are.”
Becky Kearney, an undergraduate admission counselor for center students, says having the university’s values set helps all staff be on the same page.
“We get to share with them the excitement about earning their degree, but also we’re letting them know that they’re important,” she says. “They’re our top priority, and they need to know that.”