The event was created as a way for students to gather firsthand information from the university and to have their questions and concerns voiced in a public forum. The program, which started a few years ago, is held once a semester and open to all students who wish to attend.
The open forum was hosted by USUAA President Ryan Buchholdt and moderated by Denali Blackmore. The event was also streamed live online by USUAA for concerned students who were unable to attend. Those students were able to submit questions online, which were then read aloud by Public Relations Director Amber Wilkerson.
Throughout the event, Chancellor Case spoke on a variety of issues presented by students. He began the discussion by highlighting his top three priorities for the university: growing healthcare education, furthering the engineering program to meet state demands and removing obstacles to student success.
“I want you to have a college experience that you will think fondly of for a lifetime,” explained Case, concerning the goal of enabling student success.
One major concern, voiced by multiple students, was about specific areas of academics, such as social sciences and the humanities, receiving less attention than areas like healthcare and engineering. Case responded to these concerns by explaining the process by which matters are given attention.
“It’s a matter of prioritizing, new projects often get more publicity but it doesn’t mean that they are more important,” stated Case. “The fact is, we can’t do everything all at once but it’s not because we don’t care.”
Case also spoke extensively on the topic of student life and expressed his hope of expanding opportunities for campus residents.
“I am very pleased with the progress of Residence Life,” said Case, “We are getting more and more robust student activities all the time and your participation furthers that.”
Student concerns were diverse, ranging from residential issues to the support of veterans by the university. Each question was given serious consideration by Case and the majority of students seemed satisfied with the answers given.
Though the majority of the answers were given by Case, other members of faculty were often called upon to discuss concerns specific to their areas of expertise.
John Johnson, Coordinator of Veteran Financial Assistance, was called to speak about veterans and the challenges they often face in transitioning from the military to the classroom.
Johnson spoke extensively about the Seawolf Boot Camp program and explained how it is “directed specifically at returning veterans coming to campus.”
Another faculty member who spoke at the event was Vara Allen-Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor. She was able to elaborate on the topic of Disability Support Services and explain their role on campus.
“We are actually just about to kick off a national search for a new director,” announced Jones in response to questions concerning the DSS.
After the Q&A session, student government recognized Mike Driscoll for his outstanding work at UAA. Driscoll, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, is leaving at the end of the academic year to serve as the President of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Student government also presented Driscoll with a plaque and made him a lifetime honorary member of USUAA.
The event concluded with a chance for students and university faculty to mingle, which offered a great networking opportunity for those who attended the discussion. Students could be seen conversing with faculty members afterwards and seemed genuinely pleased with the program.