Yesterday morning, about 40 new members of the Division of Student Affairs participated in the Spring session of our New Staff Orientation program. I had the pleasure of welcoming them to the session. I think (hope) my remarks to them apply to all of us, so I’ll repeat them here.
Several years ago, a few months after I became Dean of Students at SMU, a student asked me “just what do you do?” I found I had trouble answering. I supervised several areas like Career Services and Student Activities, but I wasn’t giving career advice or planning activities and programs. I no longer “did” judicial affairs or disability services. I had a lot of meetings, but that didn’t seem like much of an answer. After some reflection, I went back to that student and said that what I “did” was to “make this university work for the students”. Making the university work means students have the most complete opportunity for learning that we can possibly provide. It means that our processes help students more through the years rather than hinder them. It means that for all the ups and downs that are part of a university experience, at graduation time students have had as good an educational experience as they chose to have and they would choose to come back to our university if they had the decision to make over again.
When I became a vice president, I realized the basic job was the same – just a little broader. My job is to make UTSA “work” for students, for staff and for faculty. I’ve also come to understand and I’ve said before that is really the definition of anyone who works in our division. We each perform that job in different ways, but it describes what all of us do.
The mandatory programs – New Staff Orientation, True Colors and Four C’s – are geared to help us do our jobs better. The more we know about our university and its processes, the more we know people across campus, the better we can do our jobs and, therefore, the more we’ll enjoy our jobs. The optional programs, whether educational like the Student Affairs Conference or just fun like the Jamboree, have a similar purpose. We find our way to excellence through a variety of routes, but together we make this university work for students and for each other. That’s what we do.