Tim Wolfe visits new Student Success Center for tour, briefing
View a slideshow of Wolfe’s visit.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City is “a gem that is not as well-known as it ought to be,” in the eyes of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe.
So Monday, Wolfe sat down with a group of student leaders over lunch at the new Student Success Center to hear their thoughts on how the university – and its reputation – can be improved.
“What do we need to make more visible in order to attract students?” Wolfe asked, and Sydney Llewellyn, a trustee scholar from Nebraska, had a ready answer.
“The city itself. It’s what draws me and keeps me here,” she said. “Of all the college towns in Missouri, this is the richest in culture and richest in opportunity.”
Andres Rivera, a campus ambassador, focused on the opportunity side of the equation, noting internship and networking opportunities with major employers such as Cerner and Sprint. He credited UMKC with making a stronger marketing effort. “I’m seeing it on the highways,” he said, via the university’s recent billboard advertising campaigns.
Wolfe continued to probe, asking about the advantages of competing schools. Several students noted the powerful draw of the student life atmosphere at colleges with large stadiums and successful football programs, and a high percentage of students living on campus.
“We’ve been a commuter campus, although we’re growing away from that,” Llewellyn said, “and a lot of commuting students don’t get as involved in student activities.”
Wolfe asked the upperclassmen what was different about campus this year. This time, it was Linnaia McKenzie, Executive Vice-President of the Student Government Association, who spoke up first.
“This building,” she said, spreading her arms – and her smile – widely. “I spent a lot of time in this building before (when it was the University Center, before conversion to the new Student Success Center), and it was 360 degrees different from what it is now. It’s very welcoming, and it was worth the year of construction to have it become what it is now.”
Earlier in the day, the Student Success Center was a key element in a presentation the administration prepared for Wolfe on progress toward Goal One of UMKC’s strategic plan: Place Student Success at the Center.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Gail Hackett, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Mel Tyler and their staffs described a number of programming elements of the new center, and then led Wolfe on a tour of the facility. The center is designed to bring together in one place an array of programs and services designed to help students stay in school and earn degrees. They discussed support programs such as the Writing Studio, Career Services and Academic Support and Mentoring; a new General Education core curriculum for all students, now under development; the UFirst Early Warning system; the Check-In program for new students; and University College, a new academic unit designed specifically to help exploratory students review their options and choose an appropriate major.
Later, during the lunch with students, Wolfe returned to the topic of helping students stay in school and ultimately graduate, which he described as a system-wide challenge.
“We haven’t been getting to these students to find out what their challenges are, and then addressing those challenges, and that’s what we’re doing with programs like this,” Wolfe said.
He shared some final advice with the undergraduates before they left for class.
“Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to forge relationships while you are here,” Wolfe said. “To this day, some of my closest friends are people I met at the University of Missouri. Work at establishing and building those relationships. You never know when you can help them, or they can help you.”