Collegiality + Flexibility = Student Affairs Success

By Mike Lampe — Orientation. To students, it is considered a gateway of collegiate experiences or a boring day long process that seems to have no end.

Although orientation programs have obvious benefits for the students, there is much more that goes on for faculty and staff when planning the events. The first piece of this interesting event is the politics that goes on in planning. Regardless of the size of the institution, there are always departments that believe a great way to fix issues is by highlight their services during orientation. Although this sounds like a pain more than a benefit, the byproduct that occurs involves the interaction between professionals that usually never speak during the school year. This starts bringing a sense of collegiality that starts the beginning of the school year on the right track… granted nothing in the planning process goes terribly wrong.

Considering planning a successful orientation brings collegiality and a sense of accomplishment, the question remains on how to maintain that collegiality. Although there are times where the feeling of collaboration carries over for quite some time, what happens to those institutions that have issues where departments start silo-ing themselves for whatever reason? After all, it does not make sense to build walls when collegiality allows for shared resources for a common goal. With that in mind, an institution should find ways of keeping that spirit of orientation for all in the campus community whether it’d be by providing interdepartmental service opportunities or collaboration opportunities.

When it comes to my experiences this summer, I am gaining direct comparisons between a mid size private institution and a small public two year institution. I firmly believe that this has been the summer of restructuring and reorganizing based on my experiences. In the two year institution, my supervisor got promoted to help guide students services through a restructuring of departments to which flexibility was needed to finish the necessary work. There was also restructuring happening to the private institution due to recent vacancies, new hires, and initiating new approaches in student care. One of the vacancies happens to be the position to which supervises my assistantship. This, too, requires much flexibility to ensure community service resources and opportunities are presented to students.

Along with the flexibility needed during times of transition, collegiality is another important key to be successful. A person who becomes flexible will find ways to seek out fellow peers and coworkers for support and collaboration. Also, an institution with collegiality will have those same coworkers approach to those needing help do to those vacancies. Fortunately, I have had the support in both institutions to remind me to be flexible and help me if needing help to get through the fall semester.

As the new year begins, I am very excited on the experiences I will have to better my future.

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