New members of UCCS community need to take time to understand its students, keep the culture of the school alive

February 21, 2017

Scribe Staff

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     Last week was full of news articles, videos, photos and social media posts all to commemorate the last day and retirement of now former Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak.

     All of these posts, including The Scribe’s, ran through the accomplishments of Shockley-Zalabak and what she was able to accomplish at UCCS and in Colorado Springs in her time as leader of this university.

     As the new interim Chancellor Venkat Reddy steps into a new role, he, among other new faculty additions and changes to campus, has a big role to fill with students, more than anything else.

     UCCS students are different, or so we’ve been told.

     In a Q&A with The Scribe, Shockley-Zalabak’s advice for the next chancellor was to let them know that they are coming to a special place.

     The word special has a lot of meanings.

     With this semester’s enrollment increasing by 5.9 percent from last spring (11,366 students), this also means an increase in the number of credit hours taught. In a February Communique article, it said that last spring only 123,280 credit hours were taught. This semester, UCCS is offering 131,047 hours.

     If these were all three-credit hour courses, this would total to around 43,680 courses offered.

     As new staff and faculty are hired onto the UCCS team, it is important for them to understand the culture of the students at UCCS.

     Aside from a new interim chancellor and dean in the College of Business, different departments on campus continue to hire faculty for teaching. Just last semester, around 50 new faculty members were added to campus.

     But whether hired on as an instructor, professor or administration, student success should remain the focus, as it has been for years.

     Every faculty member on campus should understand the student culture. We are not a university full of students who just live in the dorms or near campus and only have time for school.

     The student population is diverse in the traditional sense that includes race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc., but we are also diverse in the type of college students we are.

     We are students who are the first in our family to be able to afford to have a higher education, we are parents, we are young and old, we are full-time learners and workers, we are students who came back for a second chance, who just want a degree, who are athletes, who are travelling from another country, who are training to be in the military, who have disabilities, who want to live on campus or are just not sure what we want to do with our lives.

     But this is why UCCS is the perfect campus for its students.

     The instructors, professors, faculty, staff and peers who understand what it takes to be one of these students, also understands what it takes to help us succeed and find what we need to graduate from UCCS.

     As students, we care about our campus and about the education we are receiving. We expect and pay to learn in our respective areas. Individualized education is a large part of what makes UCCS different and a sometimes better option than other public universities.

     UCCS’ retention rate is 68 percent, which is above average for public universities. UCCS is an above average school, and as we search for a new chancellor, we hope faculty will keep this in mind.

     UCCS is different for a variety of reasons, including our large commuter and online community. With a new chancellor, there will be new agenda, and we want to make sure that it will still align with what the students at UCCS want.

     Whether a new or returning faculty member on campus, remember that without the empathy and understanding of the kind of students we are, we lose the culture that helps us succeed.