ACUI Region VII Vol 1 Issue 3 Newsletter

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February–March 2017


In this issue... Deadlines can be intimidating. I should know; I’ve set three different deadlines for this issue of the regional newsletter. I wanted to get something out before the start of the new year. And to be really honest, I failed. So many things have been happening. The past several months have given a good many of us questions as to how the next several years will play out. I still don’t know. Yet, here we are. In this issue, the not-so-new Regional Director Neela Patel has some updates from the regional conference in Pittsburgh, as well as some things to look forward to in Philadelphia for the annual conference. There are updates on awards, scholarships, and new members to the region as well as a volunteer spotlight. Hayden Greene shares his thoughts on working in our field while tapping into our interests. We continue the #OtherDutiesAsAssigned segment with some entries from the past year to enjoy the lighter side of what we do. Let’s hop right into it and see what is going on in Region VII these past few months!

-Vinny Jackson

Greetings from the Regional Director By Neela Patel

It has been an interesting few months transitioning to regional director. I am pleased to share that we held a successful regional conference at the University of Pittsburgh from Nov. 11–13, 2016 titled “Navigating the Current.” As a region, we raised $8,500 for scholarships Thank you to our host institution that welcomed 198 through the silent and live auction, the cathedral attendees of which 83 were climb, funds for fitness, and heads or tails. professionals, 18 graduate students, 85 undergraduate students, and 11 sponsors. ACUI Region VII 2

The conference had two new features this year. One was an entire session block dedicated to student presenters. The students worked with a mentor to put their presentation together. The other was each session block had a session titled “Conversession” dedicated to a hot topic at the current time. Topics included the Pulse Orlando Shooting, Black Lives Matter, and the presidential election. As a region, we raised $8,500 for scholarships through the silent and live auction, the cathedral climb, funds for fitness, and heads or tails. Region VII received $13,060 in kind from the University of Pittsburgh, and $8,500 from vendor sponsors. Looking ahead to the annual conference in Philadelphia, we currently have 175 delegates registered from Region VII. For those of you attending, please join the Regional Leadership Team on Sunday, March 19, 2017 from 3–4:15 p.m. when we meet to go over regional business and go over the annual conference schedule. We also have a regional dinner planned Monday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Field House. You may have heard that the Battle of the Regions You may have heard that the Battle is returning for this annual conference. Here are some of the events that will gain us points in our of the Regions is returning for this path to victory: annual conference. 1. Pop Tab Collections: Metal pull tabs will be collected throughout the conference at the Service Stop in Franklin Hall A. The “Tab War” will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities, an organization founded in Philadelphia in 1974 as a home away from home for families with children undergoing medical treatment at local hospitals. 2. Shoe Collection: Reusable pairs of men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes will be collected throughout the conference at the Service Stop in Franklin Hall A. All types of shoes will be accepted to benefit Back on My Feet (BOMF), an organization founded in Philadelphia in 2007. BOMF’s partnership with ShoeBox Recycling will clean and redistribute usable pairs of shoes into the community, as well generate a monetary giveback to ACUI Educational Research Fund. 3. Story Slam on March 20, 2017 at 9 p.m.: Can be a group of up to four people that will have to tell a story. (This event is replacing the Poetry Slam) 4. Fund Run Walk on March 21, 2017 at 6:30 a.m.: Points will be awarded by placement. 5. Debate on March 21, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.: Teams of up to 3 people and topics will be assigned out. For those you not attending, please keep an eye out for some of the information that will be getting shared on our social media as Association wide announcements are being made. 6. Back-to-school Card Making on March 22, 2017 at 9:45 a.m. during the Meeting of the Delegates will benefit Philadelphia school children in need in partnership with Cradles to Crayons

-Neela Patel

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Region VII Awards and Scholarships By Yakima Melton

This past November, delegates from Region VII gathered in Pittsburgh, Pa. for a phenomenal regional conference. As in years past, the regional conference offered an opportunity for professional staff and students to be recognized for the amazing work that they have done at their institutions and for the Association. A special thanks to all of our award nominators and a special note of congratulations to our award recipients which are listed below: Outstanding Community Building Award: Rutgers University – New Brunswick’s “Building Inclusive Communities” Program Outstanding New Professional Award: Alexandra Beynon, Temple University Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Brittany Shaw, West Chester University Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award: Megan Henry, Temple University Dr. Theresa D. Drummond Award: Rutgers University – New Brunswick’s “Language Matters” Program Edgar A. Whiting Award: Dave Timman, West Chester University Joseph H. Benedict Award: Kristen Mruk, Genesee Community College Christine A. Chergi Award: Meg O’Sullivan, SUNY Downstate The award review and selection process could not have been completed without the assistance of the Awards and Scholarships Episodic Volunteer Team. This team dedicated time and worked under some difficult time restraints to ensure that the awards were a special part of the regional conference. The Episodic Volunteer Team members were: Carly Samuels, Rowan University Dominic Greene, American University Katie Junot, University of the District of Columbia Katy Fagan, Temple University Kerry Spicer, University at Buffalo Mary Edington, Pennsylvania State University Megan McHugh, Rowan University Rhiannon Rio Napoli, Rowan University Scott McCarthy, Rutgers University – Camden Kate Nowak In addition to presenting named service and programmatic awards, Region VII was able to award two annual conference scholarships to two professional staff members, Brandon Stroud from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Luke Haumesser from the University at Buffalo. Often institutions are invested in the professional development ACUI Region VII 4

of its staff members; however, the financial health of many institutions restricts the opportunity for institution members to attend conferences and Association sponsored programming. Being able to provide scholarships to both students and professional staff is something that Region VII has always made a priority and has prided itself in. This year, more than $8500 was raised to put towards scholarships! Monies put towards scholarships are the result of the generous contributions of the regional delegation. Our delegation donated numerous items to the silent and live auctions and in true Region VII fashion, didn’t hold back in their bidding! It is our hope that we can continue this tradition. While the awards and scholarships are a traditional part of our regional conference it also serves as a reminder of the hard work we put into our profession all year round. It is also a testament to how much we value our region and are committed to the success of both colleagues and students.

Welcome New Institutional Members Membership Coordinator Adriane Reilly

We’re excited to welcome the following institutions and look forward to engaging with your staff and students. • The University Union of Towson University in December 2016 • The Armour J. Blackburn University Center of Howard University in January 2017

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Region VII Volunteer Spotlight By Volunteer Coordinator Katie Junot

Awards & Scholarship Coordinator Yakima Melton Yakima Melton currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Livingston Student Center at Rutgers University New Brunswick. She assists in the daily operation of the Livingston Student Center including student staffing, facility and event management. She has been apart of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) in a variety of capacities and currently serves as the regional Awards and Scholarship Coordinator for Region VII. What Motivates You? The best motivation is being surrounded by individuals with good energy and contagious, positive attitudes. This is one of the reasons why I love Region VII and ACUI! After attending an ACUI program or conference, I am always left rejuvenated and with great ideas on how to better engage with students and create more efficient processes on campus. You have 15 minutes to make dinner, what do you whip up? Chicken Curry (the healthier version). Cook some chicken breast, add a can of crushed tomatoes, some onions, curry powder, salt, pepper and chicken broth in a pot and add over rice. Where is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere warm; however, my most memorable vacation was in London, England. Awards and scholarships may be awarded at regional and annual conferences but you can start collecting the information needed year round! Be sure to take a look at the variety of awards and scholarships available so you can begin the nomination process. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Apply for an episodic volunteer position with Region VII!

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Use what ya got.

By Hayden Greene, Manhattan College College campuses are noisy, both literally and metaphorically. Our students have to navigate the constant din of overstimulation and a constant barrage of information. This is especially true for our new students. If you manage to recruit one of these fresh faces to your initiative, you have a participant for possibly four years or more (talking about graduate students here, not super seniors!). The time and energy that is put into convincing these neophytes to our campus that your program is worthy of their free time is tantamount to the effort that professional sports teams dedicate to scouting for the draft. Every administrator has had the experience of trying to decide how to market themselves to separate their opportunities and events from the hordes of offices, organizations, outside vendors, and local businesses, all vying for the attention of these new minds, as well as those returning students who haven’t found their thing yet. Which program do I showcase? What aspect of that program do I highlight? Is there anything in my teeth (because there was at the last open house and I’m sure that’s why no-one put their name on my sign in sheet)? The struggle is real. If you have been in the field for more than a year, you will undoubtedly have been challenged by the fact that our students aren’t opening up emails that pertain to their financial aid and other important information. It’s ridiculous to think that they are somehow opening our email about next week’s coffee house. The greatest hurdle that administrators face is how to stand out among the myriad of message being hurled at our students at both highest decibel levels and by the passive wall of multiple overlapping fliers. Somehow, however, there are programs and events that seem to always have a large following and manage to stand out above the noise. How does that happen? They employ the same techniques that we’re using and broadcasting them through the very same channels. What gives? I have said countless times that we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fit our students into the round holes that we have built for them, knowing full well that they are square, oval, and tetrahedron shaped pegs. We know from all of the empirical data, anecdotal surveys, and attendee satisfaction responses that this program should work and this is how you should deliver this information. We often fall into the we’ve always done it this way trap or stop just short of it.

Well here is a huge secret…shhhh…come closer….ready…? Our students are far more savvy than we give them credit for sometimes. In this, the age of information, our students are showing up on campus with a broader understanding of the world and of what they expect from their college experience. This is true for even the first generation students. It’s counterproductive to parade the same programs to address the important ideas that we have been using for decades before. These are the same programs that have been satire and skewered in film and on TV shows. We have to be creative if we are going to stand a chance of reaching this new generation of students. This is where many of us get stuck though. We know student development theory like they were verses in our religious holy books. We know the perils and pitfalls that we hope to guide our charges away from, taking the whole in loco parente thing very seriously. But creativity? Well “I’m not an artistic and creative person,” some of us say. That couldn’t

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be further from reality for most of us. We all have had experiences that have shaped us, brought us to this point, and drive us forward. There are some of us, as well, who have a passion that is our outlet for when our stress levels have gotten way too high. There are even some of us who have developed skills that were necessary for child rearing or care for elder family members. We often talk of having a Student Affairs toolkit and these innocuous, seemingly benign, simple practices are all tools that we can put in said toolbox. What exactly am I talking about?

Use what ya got! The most creative person that I have ever had the pleasure of working with is Julie Fleming at Montclair State University. I know a lot of creative people from either my personal life or talented students that I have had the fortune of advising. They all have an incredible ability to take the world around them and create beauty. These are poets, print artist, photographers, dancers, choreographers, musicians, and more. The work that they produce is sometimes brilliant. I count Julie among these brilliant creative people. Here is the thing: as far as I know, Julie doesn’t sing, play an instrument, draw, write poetry, or dance. What Julie does do is enjoy life! She is always on the lookout for an interesting activity to jump into. Each spring, she compiles a “100 things to do this summer” list and it is as varied as the people that she asks to contribute to it. So what’s Julie’s creative talent? She is one of the best at taking simple and ordinary ideas and turning them into effective programming. When we worked in the same office, we sat in a meeting and tried to figure out how to make the first few weeks of the semester better for our new students. Julie had a simple idea: “What if we set up booths during the first two weeks of the semester giving information to students as they tried to navigate the campus. Kinda like Lucy from the Peanuts.” And the Lucy Booths were born! She coordinated a collaborative effort between facilities (who built the booths), and various other offices on the campus (who provided the staffing). Almost a decade later, the Lucy Booths are a fundamental part of the landscape at the beginning of the academic year, but it was a very simple idea that bore substantial fruit. This is commonplace for Julie. She knows that students studying in the library sometimes don’t take the time to eat. Julie goes to the grocery store, gets some snacks, slaps a label with study tips and the Twitter handle for the department, and becomes the snack fairy during exam time! I have been walking with her and had people come up to her and say, “Hey Snack Fairy!” Cost of program; minimal. Impact on campus; huge. That’s creativity.

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On the other hand, there are some of us who are artistically creative in a fashion that is not a requirement of their position. Some are actual artists, musicians, poets, etc. Anthony Otero, from Barnard College, and I are looking at balancing work life and the artistic alter ego for a future presentation. The premise is that, often, we are passionate about the work we do on our campuses and, for most of us, it is our calling. The flip side is that some of us are just as passionate about our art. The old question always rears its head: if I got paid as much to do my art, would I leave my job on campus? I faced that quandary recently. I was out of work for a while and switched my time obligations to my art full time. I am a freelance photographer and I shoot in my spare time: artistic stuff, commercial stuff, events, you name it. When I was away from higher education, I converted to a full time photographer and began to make decent money. When I received an offer to come back to Higher Ed, I had to make a decision. I’ll be honest; it was tough. I was making good money doing something that I loved. The tipping point came when I reassured myself that I could meld my art with my responsibilities on campus.

At all of our institutions, there are students who love to do the things that you are passionate about artistically. Do you like to play guitar in your spare time? Run a guitar riff competition and the entry fees and door money can go to charity. Like to make cakes and decorate them? Host and teach cake decorating classes. Are you a poet? Well, that one’s easy! For me, as a photographer, I knew that I wanted to engage our students in some fashion. At a previous institution, I brought in my equipment, set up a portrait location in a hallway, and took professional photos of any student passing by who wanted to take one. We then put their pictures up on our Facebook page. It drove traffic to our page because people wanted to see themselves and wanted to see their friends. Our likes tripled, and the eyes on our other posts increased exponentially. What was the cost to me? Virtually nothing (if you don’t count the hour or two spent editing) because I was doing something I loved. I’m going to recreate that program at my new campus and this time seek out students who also like photography. I can use the time to teach them about portrait photography and how to use the equipment. Hopefully, they will want to come to our events and try out their new skills and we will get great pictures from it! This is all born from using the skills that I already have. The bottom line is that we all struggle to find that next program that will get more feet through our doors or into our event. Sometimes we need to look at what interests you personally and use that. Remember that our students are just younger versions of ourselves. Gasp!!! You may be surprised that what moves you also moves them. That’s a connection that is very strong. Don’t under estimate it and remember, use what ya got! Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 3 9

Region VII Navigates Pittsburgh Photo Credit: Hayden Greene

Congratulations to West Chester University as the 2016 Spirit Stick awardees!

Heads or Tails players making their final call!

Magician Lee Terbosic mystifying those at the closing night event. ACUI Region VII 10

Round table disccussion on Women in Leadership during the Building Bridges networking event.

Delegates prepping for the Cathedral Climb! Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 3 11

Data Crunch

By Vinny Jackson, University of Delaware

In August 2016, the Central Office reviewed the individual member profiles for the Association. The summary was shared with the leadership teams and gave a comparison between regions. Below are some highlights specific to Region VII.

• Highest percentage of people respond with Activities and Programming. • Highest percentage of people in a Community of Practice among all regions in any category with 56.96% of respondents in the Campus Life and Program Management Community of Practice. • Had a higher percentage of people in the Student Organization Advisors Community of Practice and was the only region with this in its top three. • Highest percentage of people in the following Communities of Practice: Late Night Programs, College Union and Student Activities Veterans, and Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The Songburghs at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh performing for the 2016 regional conference. ACUI Region VII 12

Interested in contributing to future issues of the Region VII newsletter? To get involved, email Communications Coordinator Vinny Jackson with articles, photos, or other materials. You can reach him at Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 3 13


By Kristen Mruk, Genesee Community College

As student affairs professionsal we know that our jobs require some out of the ordinary tasks. This issue looks at some moments from the past year in which our duties exceeded beyond our written job descriptions. Share your stories with us on Instagram or Facebook using the #OtherDutiesAsAssigned and tag @ACUIRegionVII so we can highlight some of the whacky things we do for our students and institutions.

Vinny Jackson at the University of Delaware testing out the efficacy of the late night ball pit before the Perkins Live secret event. Pictured above is 600 balls in a 5’x5’ play pen. Fun fact: You would need at least three times that many for it to be effective.

Photo Credit: Meaghan Davidson, University of Delaware

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Susan Lechtanski making friends with Ernie at the Saudi Arabian Student Association’s event titled “Arab Tent 2016” outside of her office at the HUB-Robeson Center. The event at Penn State included booths, cultural dances, and traditional performances from Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Palestine, Egypt, and Sudan. Photo Credit: Susan Lechtanski, Penn State

Giancarlo Brugnolo gearing up for Planet Ram Jam laser tag event at the Kanbar Campus Center. This is what a student affairs professional looks like with laser beams attached to their heads.

Photo Credit: Tim Butler, Philadelphia University Regional Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 3 15

Regional Leadership Team Regional Director

Patel, Neela Rutgers University (May 25, 2016 through Nov. 4, 2016)

2017 Regional Conference Coordinator

Grossman Leopard, Jennifer Pennsylvania State University– University Park (Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

2018 Regional Conference Coordinator

Spicer, Kerry University at Buffalo (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Awards & Scholarships Coordinator

Melton, Yakima Rutgers University (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Business Manager Tiberi, Thomas University at Buffalo

Communications Coordinator

Jackson, Vincent University of Delaware

Online Learning Coordinator

Corporate Partnerships

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)


Student Involvement

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Sizemore, Cody University of Maryland-Baltimore (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Educational Programs Coordinator

Williams, Michele Marist College

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)


Ulmer, Melissa Rowan University (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Student Member

Marsella, Thomas Rowan University (Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2017)

Inclusivity Coordinator Otero, Anthony Barnard College

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Membership Coordinator Reilly, Adriane Temple University

(Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

Follow ACUI Region VII on ACUI Region VII 16

Cinelli, Kiley The College of New Jersey

Volunteer Coordinator

Junot, Katie University of the District of Colombia (Sept. 15, 2016 through Nov. 30, 2018)

Web and Social Media Coordinator Frailey, Darcy American University

(Sept. 1, 2015 through Nov. 30, 2017)

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