II. Student Development Goal: Enhance the campus environment so as to foster students' intellectual, social, ethical, and personal development.
Strategy A: Developing a Seamless Learning Environment. Create a student affairs co-curricular sequence based on developmental outcomes that coordinates with the academic program and addresses student development issues (including, but not limited to leadership development, presentation skills, resume and other professional writing skills, personal finance) from matriculation to graduation.
Seamless learning is based on the notion that students do not separate their in-class learning with their out-of-class development. The undergraduate experience is seamless to students. Universities create the silos that distinguish student learning and development. Out-of-class learning should complement and coordinate with in-class learning. If we begin with the outcomes in mind, all Illinois Wesleyan students should be critical thinkers, able to contemplate information and issues from many perspectives, and apply their knowledge to solve problems. Likewise, IWU students should have the ability to articulate themselves, lead others, and contribute to their communities as educated people living in a democracy. We need to enhance the undergraduate experience by interweaving student support services with existing structures so that all students benefit from interaction with co-curricular programming, career services, library services, health services, counseling services, etc.
Strategy B: Achieving Holistic Student Wellness. Establish a comprehensive program that provides opportunities for students to learn about and practice physical, emotional, vocational, spiritual, intellectual and social wellness.
We have the opportunity to affect student habits and lifestyles by incorporating a wellness approach to their education at Illinois Wesleyan University. For most of our students, this is the first time they are living away from home, making choices every day about how they eat, whether or not they exercise, how much they choose to drink or not drink, what they will do with their vocation, whether or not they will practice religion, and much more. While they expand their minds, they are also faced with choices that come with their independence. For most students, this is a perfect time to introduce them to things that are different to them – through the arts, cultural programming, and informally through other students with different values.
While a wellness program can be perceived as a holistic way of organizing our offerings, it is also a tool for responding to the natural stress that comes with all of the choices that face students in college. Students are whole beings and it is important that we balance our challenge and support of them as whole beings. For example, too much challenge and not enough support in the academic part of their lives leads to too much stress, which often presents itself as physical or emotional illness. For some students, there is too much challenge and not enough support for the spiritual aspects of their lives, perhaps when Christian holidays are celebrated, but others go unnoticed. We need to understand that balance between challenge and support in all aspects of a student’s life is necessary to keep our students healthy and productive.
Human Resources Strategy E (see below) also encompasses wellness, with an emphasis on programs for faculty and staff. Whenever possible, programs for promoting student wellness should be coordinated with efforts to achieve faculty and staff wellness, and the two strategies should be seen as complementary.
Strategy C: Supporting Student Development throughout College. Enhance the undergraduate experience by bringing together academic and co-curricular experiences that address new student orientation, transitions, and the ongoing advisement of students in all spheres of their growth and development.
Illinois Wesleyan University attracts bright and motivated students with high expectations for learning. As facilitators of and eventual partners in their learning, members of the faculty and staff need to design greater opportunities to engage students in the process of learning. Immediately, students are intensely curious about their university and eager to connect with others. We need to find ways to inspire active learning from the start. It is more than making orientation more academic in nature or requiring students to attend one more program. It is about creating an environment at Illinois Wesleyan University that causes learning. It is not about who has the programming money, but how the programming money is used to affect learning. It is not so much about why students fail to participate but more about creating an environment that inspires students to remain involved in IWU. Turning our university on its head requires that we start with the student at the center of the conversation and create structures that cause the student to engage in the rich life of the University.
As did the Teaching and Learning Work Group, the Student Development Work Group specifically recognized students’ academic advising concerns. Every time a student is given an opportunity to evaluate our work, inconsistent academic advising arises as an issue. We need to address dissatisfaction throughout the advising experience from the first year to the senior year that acknowledges the variety of a student’s needs, including general advising, advising within the major, and career advising. Feedback from campus forums indicate a strong need to address advisor training and accountability and student rights and responsibilities related to advising and academic planning. But advising is far more encompassing than academic advising alone, and the strategy here emphasizes the multiplicity and interconnectedness of students’ advising needs throughout their time at Illinois Wesleyan. Actions taken in pursuit of this strategy should, therefore, be carefully coordinated with those undertaken to achieve Strategy B under the Teaching and Learning planning goal.
Strategy D: Encouraging Community Involvement. Infuse the values of citizenship, social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and globalization into our community at Illinois Wesleyan University. Create environments that encourage students to step out of their comfort zones, gain appreciation for difference and become active in their communities.
Just as students develop habits for wellness in college, they begin to develop lifelong values and behaviors relating to their responsibilities as citizens and leaders in their communities. It is important for the University to model social responsibility and present meaningful opportunities for students to explore their values and behaviors associated with issues of citizenship.
Strategies D and E under the Diversity planning goal (see below) direct the University to welcome diverse constituencies to the campus and to provide diverse curricular offerings to enrich students’ on-campus opportunities and to enable them to learn from exploring differences. This complementary strategy encourages students to move beyond the campus to interact with diverse populations and contribute to the larger community.
Strategy E: Strengthening Student-Alumni Relationships. Establish and develop a program that brings students and alumni together in cooperative projects, tutoring relationships, and personal and professional networking, increasing the effectiveness and successes of current students while engaging alumni to maintain a participatory role in the University.
One of the most interesting problems at Illinois Wesleyan is that there is such little connection between current students and alumni. And one of the benefits and amazing opportunities of a university like IWU is that current students should understand that they are part of a special community of people - people who love their alma mater and contribute to it in support of the education of students that follow them. Students can benefit from understanding their roles in this community. Alumni have indicated that they would like greater participation in the life of the university. There does not seem to be a downside to creating better connections between members of our community.