Students returning to campus this fall will notice that a few things have changed at Augsburg since last spring. In addition to new spaces, there are other more subtle changes happening on campus.
Perhaps one students will soon see is that the Enrollment Center has new hours of operation. Starting in late August, the EC began opening on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., primarily so that the staff in academic advising, student financial services, and the registrar’s office could meet as a group for training and coordinating. This fall, service windows will be open during lunch, there will be increased staffing during evenings and weekends, and new signage was added to make services and times more clear.
Why the changes? Some were made as a direct result of feedback the EC received from students last spring, and others came out of work the EC staff did with Dennis Donovan, the national organizer for Public Achievement with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship. Through multiple one-to-one and group conversations and working sessions, the staff began moving toward a more public work environment—one in which issues and concerns are addressed publicly. This is the aim of the Public Achievement model.
Last year the staff met weekly as a group with him to clarify roles for each department, to learn how to communicate and work together better, and to brainstorm ideas for improving service to students. The later opening time two days a week will give the staff opportunities to communicate and connect so that they can better serve the needs of all students at Augsburg. The EC will be open until 6 p.m. on these days and will continue to be open on Saturdays when weekend classes are in session.
Lori York, the assistant registrar, said that one important development was overcoming the “no we can’t do this” mentality. This was most evident in the issue of how to use the EC space most efficiently. “We had to think outside the box and ask who makes sense working together,” she said. After creating a map with puzzle pieces and working through some discussion, several staff members relocated within the center. These shifts allow staff to communicate better about their common work.
The Public Achievement model has also given staff the freedom to create new programs that will help students succeed, such as a mentoring program for weekend students, improved meetings with new weekend students beginning their first terms, and retention initiatives for students on academic probation. EC staff are also partnering with IT to go paperless and to ensure that students have access to online tools.
All of these changes, from new hours to new programs, are meant to better serve students and to develop connections with them that will help them succeed. “We want students to understand that we want to serve them well and that we take our jobs seriously,” said Carrie Shidla, assistant director of Academic Advising. “We do that by communicating with each other to find out how we can work together to help them.”
Donovan says he will draw on the EC staff to help talk to other groups about using Public Achievement in the workplace. “This has been a great example of people learning about how to be in relational and public in their work and coming together,” he said. “If Augsburg takes on the idea of tapping into people’s talents and gifts in this way, it could be amazing.”
See the new Enrollment Center hours, and find other information, on the EC website.