East Tennessee State University Department of Housing & Residence Life is a featured program.
The ETSU Department of Housing and Residence Life takes pride in its ability to form meaningful and lasting partnerships with units across academic and student affairs. The initiatives and programs that have been generated from these collaborations have led to student success in and out of the classroom.
Connecting Meaningfully with Faculty and Staff
Many of the ETSU students arrive on campus lacking basic food preparation skills – we are certain this is the case on many college campuses! In an attempt to help students learn basic cooking techniques, a partnership began between DHRL and Dr. Mary Dave Blackman, Associate Professor in the Department of Music. Dr. Blackman’s love of food preparation, coupled with enthusiastic participation from our residential student body, created “Kitchen Possible” – a monthly opportunity for students to gather in our campus Food Lab and create dishes for free. If you are interested in seeing our students create lasagna, feel free to visit our campus’s YouTube account.
We also sought ways to bring faculty members into our residence halls. Following a model that has proven to be successful on many campuses, fall 2013 ushered in “ETSU House Calls.” This initiative brings together faculty and staff from units across the University, who walk the residence halls of ETSU and knock on student doors at the start of the semester. The conversations ranged from basic introductions and discussion of the start of the semester, to questions from residents regarding how to get involved in campus organizations or research opportunities. This low-key way of introducing campus personnel was met with positive feedback from students and is likely to continue as a new tradition.
Our campus has also been working to create a comprehensive living-learning communities program. In fall 2011, the first LLC at ETSU was launched – our Pre-Health Living and Learning Community, a collaboration between the Medical Professions Advisement Program, Department of Housing and Residence Life, College of Nursing, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, Honors College, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, Quillen College of Medicine, and the College of Public Health. This community offers students interested in health-related careers the academic and social support to navigate through coursework, entrance exams, and hands-on learning in internships and undergraduate research. The success of this model led to the creation of new LLCs for the 2013-2014 year, and new opportunities to partner with campus units and departments.
Our department is also in the process of developing a residential curriculum to launch in the fall of 2015. This curriculum will position the department to design all of our living environments as learning communities.
Student Support and Engagement
Student support is strongest when the University works in tandem to develop programs and interventions that take into account the social and academic needs of the student. DHRL has had long-standing partnerships with a number of campus entities that allow us to address to these areas of student development.
Our campus early alert system, Grades First, is a partnership between our Academic Resource Center staff and DHRL, along with faculty and lecturers from across ETSU. When student grades are at high-risk at the midpoint of the semester, academic advisors reach out to try and connect with students and offer support. Our residence life staff do additional follow-up to ensure that students receive the support they need.
Our campus population includes many first-generation and low-income students who often struggle with balancing college and home life. As a part of helping students find support during registration, we send emails to all students who live on campus but have not completed class registration for the next term to see if we can help them with any issues they are facing. This effort dovetails with the work being done by the Financial Aid staff, academic advisors, and staff from academic departments. We have seen students reach out to us for help from everything ranging from holds for library fines to navigating our online registration system. DHRL staff performs an additional outreach to students who have been placed on academic probation at the end of the term in hopes of reinforcing the support we can offer in our halls.
Additional Living Learning Communities coming on line in 2014 include the Honors Living Learning Community and the Global Living Learning Community.
Submitted by Bethanie S. Hyatt, Marketing Outreach Coordinator, East Tennessee State University