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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Office of Institutional Planning, Research and Assessment

Comments on Academic Support

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/planning/masterplan/campuswide/feedback/university/academic.html

First Year Experience

  1. I would like to comment on the exclusion of the New Student and Family Programs within the campus master plan. Currently the FYE Office is located in a Revenue generated building, Gage Complex, and has not been considered in the campus master plan. The Office is currently not accounted for in the Residence Life Master Plan either, leaving critical spacial needs for the office not currently addressed by either plan. The First Year Experience Office is a M and E supported office within the division of Student Affairs. Through programs including Learning Communities, First Year Seminar, Academic and Probationary Advising, and New/Transfer Student Orientation, our office has greatly impacted new student retention since it's conception in 1993, with a 9% gain in overall new student retention to the sophomore year. This has resulted in millions of dollars in retention generated revenue for the institution. Currently located in Gage B Residence hall, we service all freshmen students at MSU and many sophomore-senior students who are undecided in major. The FYE Office has quickly outgrown its current space allocation. To date, every available work space is utilized, with past storage areas converted to office work spaces. Current spacial availability is not sufficient to service growth and expansion of programmatic needs within the office, nor provide for existing storage needs made up of Orientation materials and confidential filing space. Finally, Office location continues to be a challenge. The FYE Office is not centrally located, however the services provided fit a broadly based clientele. First Year students are dispensed across the campus within Residence Halls, not housed only in Gage B tower. The Residential Life Master plan does not change this housing arrangement. Also, the FYE Office continues to service many sophomore-senior and non-traditional students, while housed within a current location that is seen as inconvenient to access by many office customers. In conclusion, I propose the FYE Office be formally recognized within the campus Master plan for expansion of office space. I would also propose to have our current office location evaluated. A centrally located office within either the union or Wigley administration may better service the broad range of students for which the office provides services.

Human Resources

  1. Reference specifically Section V, pages 3 and 4, of the Master Plan. I wish to suggest that the employees of the institution will not be well served if the Human Resources Office is located at Wiecking. I understand the need to focus on students in our planning efforts in any segment of the University—students are our mission. However, we also need to take into consideration the needs of our 1300+ employees as they meet the needs of our students. How an employer focuses on the needs of its employees is a "benchmark" of how important the workforce is to the employer. Employees visit the HR Office all the time regarding various issues—insurance, retirement, filling vacant positions, paychecks, etc.—all items that cannot be taken care of either by e-mail or by phone. Having HR in Wiecking makes it difficult for a vast number of our employees to access these services. It all but eliminates the ability of employees to "drop in" on their way to lunch, coffee, or on another errand. It also severely impedes the ability of employees with mobility impairments to easily access the services and resources of the office. Planning must also take into account "perceptions" as well as realities. Having a visible and easily accessible HR Office sends a signal to employees that the office is intended to be a resource for them—it demonstrates the importance of the entire University's workforce to the institution.
  2. As the Master Plan progressed from first draft to final draft, the Office of Human Resources was moved from a fairly central location to the outer edge of campus. The Office of Human Resources serves all faculty, staff, and administrators. It is critical that this department be located centrally, be accessible to all employees as well as those seeking employment, and offer privacy for employees to discuss confidential matters with Human Resources staff.
  3. The master plan still lacks an accurate understanding of the role of Human Resources. Under the Space Distribution Concepts/Wigley Administration Center Wiecking the plan refers to Human Resources as a "back room" function that does not require a central location. The term "back room" is simply an inaccurate assessment of Human Resources' role. HR provides countless services to all faculty : staff, and is the primary point of contact for the public seeking employment. We require an accessible, convenient location for the entire campus and the public. Our current space does not and cannot provide room for 10 employees, 5 students, numerous visitors and our ever expanding files. The space is not ADA compliant and is in violation of OSHA regulations, which could result in heavy fines for our institution. Currently, HR stores countless files around campus, which are not in secured areas as required by data privacy laws, nor are they readily accessible for our staff. Because of these issues we are unable to effectively provide our services to the 1,500 employees and the general public with the confidentiality and professionalism they require and deserve.
  4. I do not agree with the master plan as far as Human Resources being a "back room service." Human Resources is a resource for all employees (faculty and staff) that should be easily accessible to all current employees plus the public who are inquiring about employment. Our current location is inadequate in size for the number of current staff and student workers and prohibits any type of privacy for employees who come to discuss anything with our staff. I'm sure we are not up to ADA or OSHA standards with our space or electrical issues. We have no storage space for supplies, etc. for the events we host, and our archive files are located in two other buildings which are not necessarily secured at all times.
  5. The Human Resources Office is responsible for the management and coordination of personnel programs and functions for all divisions within the University. The offensive term used is the Master Plan referred to this office as a "backdoor" operation. We believe that serving the 1300+ employees of the University is a vital function that needs to be in a visable and accessible location to the entire University's workforce as well as to prospective employees. This is not a "backdoor" function. Additionally, the space referenced in the Master Plan is inadequate. We cannot provide confidential and efficient service to the employees that serve the students if we do not have adequate space and resources.
  6. I don't feel that HR could adequately provide the services that we currently do if we were located in Wiecking. Besides the fact that we are in desperate need of space, employees would not walk all the way to Wiecking for HR services. They would attempt to contact us through email, fax and/or telephone which leads to incomplete communication. Every other week, our office receives 400+ timesheets. This area alone would suffer because people would place the timesheets in the mail and I think there will be problems with us getting the timesheets in time to process them for payroll. We are given timelines by MnSCU. This is just one service that we provide which I tried to let you know how our moving to Wiecking would affect services that we provide for the entire campus. Being placed in Wiecking would make it difficult for employees to access us for our services. Is this the professional appearance you want to show potential employees? Where would we test current applicants and/or potential applicants? When a Dean or VP needs to view a file or talk to the director and or Assistant Directors, are they going to be willing to walk all the way over to Wiecking? When employees call about having difficulty loading information off our Web page, would our ITS person want to walk all over campus or would she just try to handle it over the phone and then tell people to call the help desk. Is Wiecking accessible for handicapped or disabled employees. Therese meets several times with employees who are thinking about or are retiring or are currently having disability pay. Are they going to be willing to walk to Wiecking? Getting UPD's is already somewhat a slow process, if a UPD comes in without the appropriate signatures and or other information a! attached that is required, we would either have to walk it to the destination or mail it, which would add time on to a process that is already time consuming. These are just a few of the examples of problems that would arise out of Human Resources being moved to Wiecking.
  7. Noted a dramatic change in the proposed location of HR in the new plan. She thanks the committees for opening up the process in discussing the Master Plan.
  8. I believe that the HR office was referenced in the master plan as "backdoor of the university;." I agree that the central area of the university should be centered on students, but since there are people who make this happen, HR needs to be centrally available for employees as well. Our main purpose is to be a resource for employees. If we are referred to as "backdoor", that does not give us much impact and respect. It is important that we are accessible for all employees, including those with disabilities. Most people who come to our office, quite often are on their break time and it would be impossible for them to walk over to Wiecking and take care of their business and return to their position in a timely manner.
  9. The master plan still lacks an accurate understanding of the role of Human Resources. Under the Space Distribution Concepts/Wigley Administration Center Wiecking the plan refers to Human Resources as a "back room" function that does not require a central location. The term "back room" is simply an inaccurate assessment of Human Resources' role. HR provides countless services to all faculty : staff, and is the primary point of contact for the public seeking employment. We require an accessible, convenient location for the entire campus and the public. Our current space does not and cannot provide room for 10 employees, 5 students, numerous visitors and our ever expanding files. The space is not ADA compliant and is in violation of OSHA regulations, which could result in heavy fines for our institution. Currently, HR stores countless files around campus, which are not in secured areas as required by data privacy laws, nor are they readily accessible for our staff. Because of these issues we are unable to effectively provide our services to the 1,500 employees and the general public with the confidentiality and professionalism they require and deserve.

Career Development/Counseling

  1. I appreciate the opportunity to comment on MSU's Master Plan. I also would like to commend the Ad Hoc Master Plan Communication Task Force for the job they have done of stimulating dialogue and input from major segments of the campus community and, to a lesser degree, from the adjacent off-campus community. As a faculty representative on the Planning Sub-Meet and Confer, I have had the opportunity to attend most of the open meetings and I have certainly been influenced by a number of the opinions and suggestions that have been presented. I would like to offer the following comments as an individual faculty member while acknowledging that our campus-wide discussion has influenced some of my thinking: I would like to speak in support of using the space in the Wigley Administration Building that was vacated by Admissions to relocate the Counseling Center and thereby physically consolidate Career Development and Counseling. Benefits in regard to administrative efficiency have already been discussed, mostly by staff and faculty from this unit. As a counselor and a counseling educator I see another important consideration being the visibility and convenient access to the -Counseling Center- portion of Career Development and Counseling. In its current somewhat hidden location students may not be aware of the Counseling Center's existence, its services, or its usefulness. MSU is fortunate to have extremely well qualified therapists and counselors (faculty) in this excellent resource. These services should be -front and center- to students and the campus community in order to increase awareness and encourage utilization. Physically co-locating Career Development and the Counseling Center will encourage and facilitate the use of both resources in a coordinated, simultaneous manner. In many instances -career planning- and -counseling- go hand-in-hand. Let's maximize this resource by physically combining Career Development and Counseling, as well as administratively combining them. Finally on this point, the current facility used by the Counseling Center leaves much to be desired, even beyond its hidden location. Worn out carpeting, cramped quarters, and deferred maintenance create a less than inviting or therapeutic atmosphere. Particularly for students who are already dealing with difficult personal, inter-personal, academic, career, or additional issues this physical space is counter-productive. One office, currently used by Practicum students but not by staff therapists (faculty) actually appears to have ground-in filth, or mold growing out of the wall.
  2. The following is sent in support of the Career Development and Counseling Center for WA 209. At this time the master plan shows Student Support Services in 209 in addition to the Career Development Center. We are not mutually functioning departments. The Counseling Center is not mentioned at all in the Master Plan. We are a combined Center and need to function out of one location. The location needs to be highly assessable to students as our function affects student recruitment, retention, and placement. Additionally, We provide services to all university constituents; on and off-campus. -Career services were once only placement services. This essential activity was a matching of graduates with employers. Today, the services increasingly include everything from recruitment to retention activities and then some. The career center affects recruitment efforts, for example, by serving as a visible representation of the collective offerings of the institution. It affects financial aid efforts through job locator programs. It also enhances educational offerings through the provision of internships and cooperative educational experiences and provides career information and counseling, job services, and academic advising. It is fair to say that the career center could be involved wherever there is need for better understanding, interpretation, or utilization of the educational experience. However defined, the career center has, and should have, an evolving role.- (Heppner, Johnston 1993) I. Why WA 209? High Traffic, Combined Physical Environment, New Collaborative Initiatives, Staffing and Functions High Traffic
    • Wigley Administration 209 is a high student/faculty/staff traffic area. The Career Development and Counseling Center interacts with all university and community members and functions ranging from employers to orientation to faculty consultation to alumni services/events. With over 88,000 documented direct contact for services, it is imperative that the CDC be located in a high profile location to accommodate the diverse range of populations that it serves. Combined Physical Environment
    • The Career Development and Counseling Center has been a combined administrative office for seven years; with the idea of a combined work space being a constant 'topic of when, where, and how'. Yet, the CDC continues to work in separate offices; with the Career Development Center in WA 209 and the Counseling Center in CSU 245 which is an outdated, cramped and substandard space. Neither space has experienced any physical improvements; as 'we may be moving into a combined office space'.
    • The current physical environment affects the perceptions of the professional staff in relationship to the university community, the overall campus perception of the Career Development and Counseling Center and thus, the evaluation of services.
    • This is not conducive to a team environment. It is firmly believed that until the physical facilities are improved, the Career Development and Counseling Center cannot effectively function as a comprehensive center. The staff knows that it can create and accomplish more with the benefit of the daily interaction of the work team and would hope to bring this issue to a conclusion. New Collaborative Initiatives
    • Retention CDC is charged with the creation and implementation of a collaborative campus-wide retention for sophomores, juniors and seniors. The Career Exploration Lab which is located in WA 209 is an inherent part of the retention initiative. Accessibility to the lab is critical to students and faculty.
    • On-campus Recruitment and mavjobs.com system A new electronic recruitment has been initiated for easy access for students, alumni and employers. With over 20,100 total logins for resume viewing, scheduling and job listings in our first year; it is a well-received systems. Mavjobs.com has increased the request for direct contact services. Most importantly, on-campus recruitment for all majors is marketed, coordinated and held in the CDC office (five recruitment rooms). It is very important to the overall campus public relations that we offer a hospitable, accessible environment with convenient parking to employers who come to campus for on-campus recruitment and job fairs.
    • Campus/Community National Testing Center Equipment has been purchased for the initiation of a Testing Site to offer computerized PRAXIS, ACT, GRE, CLEP and other national tests. The equipment is in storage due to the lack of a campus facility. The testing center would be a benefit to current students, but to the community. (Currently students have to go to the twin cities or Rochester) This function is administered out of the Counseling Center; with specified space functions (testing room, supervisor office, waiting room). There is virtually no available space at the current Counseling Center.
    • New Counseling Configuration for Delivery of Optimum Services The Counseling Center developed a new Plan for Services with a new configuration for the delivery of services that are responsive to retention, responding to mental health/behavioral issues, crisis management and outreach. These services will benefit the entire student affairs and the university community. It is important that our staff be in one location to fully integrate and implement this service delivery model. Counseling Coordination Responsibilities Outreach/Programming/ Groups/ Retention, Training/Clinical Supervision, Issues/Substance Abuse/ Community Referral Liaison, Testing/Assessment/Research, Consultation/University Response Team Staffing and Functions (see staffing chart, architectural rendering)
    • Due to the nature of our services, facilities with private offices are very important.
    • Career Development needs to be in a highly accessible area to all campus and community constituents due to the range of functions.
    • Career Development and Counseling requirements: 14 Private offices for personal/career counseling for one Director a staff of 8 professionals, 3 graduate assistants (2 offices), 2 practicum students and a testing supervisor 5 Recruiter Interview rooms 1 Testing Room 2 Waiting rooms 1 Large open area for the Career Exploration lab with six computers, DISCOVER System, tables/chairs, resource materials 1 Reception area 5 Administrative/Clerical workstations for recruitment, credentials, Graduate Follow-up Report, Testing and Counseling Coordination WA 209 can accommodate all these functions with very little physical change. Additionally, it is ADA compliant and accessible. It also needs to be considered that Career Development has been in WA 209 for over 23 years; so there is a space expectation, tradition, and student/faculty comfort level to the location.
  3. I have been on staff at this institution for almost 10 years now as Assistant Director for the Career Development Counseling Center. For the majority of those years, the "Career Development Center" and the "Counseling Center" have been a "combined" Center, with the constant promise of one day actually sharing a physical space. And yet, to this day, we remain housed in 2 separate locations (Career Dev in the Admin Bldg and Counseling in the Student Union). We continue to strive toward seeing ourselves as a "combined" staff and to convince the University Community that we are indeed one "office". Our current Director has gone to great lengths to bring us together as one Center, both physically and mentally. However, we have come to the point of "hitting the wall" so to speak in terms of our progress. It is most frustrating to all of us to have given our input to the master planning process, only to find that when it comes to the "Master Plan", we not only remain in 2 separate locations, but also see that Career Development has been combined with "Trio" and "Upward Bound Services" rather than finally bring together Career Development AND Counseling in one physical location! (see the Proposed Program Distribution map for the second floor of Wigley in the Master Plan) I am not sure that the "planners" were aware of the fact that the Trio/Upward Bound clientele consists of HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, whereas the Career Development clientele consists of MSU students, alumni, and employers. The services located in the Wigley Administration Center should be "high traffic" student (non-high school) services (Career Development alone saw 5,000+ walk-in students, 1500+ scheduled student appointments, and 40,000+ overall clientele contacts during the time period of July 1, 2001-June 30, 2002!) The time has come for this institution to either physically combine the Career Development and Counseling Center, assuming that the intent continues to be to have these 2 offices functioning as one unit. Not only should this be addressed in the "Master Plan", but I believe much more immediately (this cannot wait until 2012!!). The space in 209 Wigley Admin. has been used for the past year or so (since the Admissions Office moved to the Taylor Center) as "transient" space for various offices or has sat empty waiting for the results of the "Master Plan" to be implemented. Either allow the Counseling Center function to occupy this space so that the Center is actually a combined one, or have the courage to once again declare the Career Development and Counseling Center as completely separate entities! The indecision and lack of movement of this for the past few+ years has been a genuine disservice to the staff of both functions, and the students of this institution.
  4. It is noted that after lots of discussion with the Master Planners, her unit's suggestions were not incorporated in the master plan. She wonders who made the decisions on what to include in the Plan. We also here for not the first time how the Career Development and Counseling Center should be together.
  5. I am an employee also at the CDC and feel as strongly as Pam does about this for the Career Development Counseling Center. For the majority of those years, the -CDC and the Counseling Center have been a combined Center, with the constant promise of one day actually sharing a physical space. And yet, to this day, we remain housed in two separate locations (Career Dev in the Admin Building and Counseling in the CSU). We continue to strive toward seeing ourselves as a combined staff and convince the University Community that we are indeed one -office.- Our current Director has gone to great lengths to bring us together as one Center, both physically and mentally. However, we have come to the point of -hitting the wall- so to speak in terms of our progress. It is most frustrating to all of us to have given our input to the master planning process, only to find that when it comes to the -Master Plan- we not only remain in two separate locations, but also see that CDC has been combined with trio and Upward Bound rather than finally bring together Career Development and Counseling in one physical location. I am not sure that the planners were aware of the fact that the Trio/Upward Bound clientele consists of High School Students, whereas the Career Development clientele consists of MSU students, alumni, and employers. The services located in the new Wigley Admin Center SHOULD be high-traffic student (not high school) services (Career Development alone saw 5000 walk-in students, 1500 scheduled student appointments, and 40,000 overall clientele contacts during the time period of July 1, 2001-June 30, 2002. The time has come for this institution to either physically combine the Career Development and counseling Center, assuming that the intent continues to have these 2 offices functioning as one unit. Not only should this be addressed in the Master Plan, but I believe much more immediately (this cannot wait until 2012!!) The space in 209 Wigley Admin has been used for the past year or so as -transient- space for various offices OR has sent empty.
  6. Enhancing Student Services: While renovating the Wigley Administration Building, I strongly suggest leaving Career Development and Counseling in WA209 - as a combined office. I have been with the "Placement Bureau" since the early 1970's, when it was located in Carkoski Commons. We re-located to WA209 in Fall 1979 - a night and day difference. We truly appreciate the WA209 high visibility/high traffic area - for the students, staff, and employers.
  7. As an MSU employee in my fifth year in the Career Development Center, I have concerns regarding the Master Plan draft. As the MSU community knows, the Career Development AND Counseling Center share a name, vision, and Director, but not physical space. Our two offices have been "combined" for at least 7 years, yet we continue to be separated physically. The Counseling Center is located in the Student Union (CSU 245), and the Career Development Center is in the Wigley Administration Center (209 WA). My concern with the Master Plan is that since the Taylor Center's completion, the area of 209 WA vacated by the Admissions office has been used by a number of different offices, but never the Counseling Center. According to the Master Plan, the Counseling Center will not be moving to 209 WA. In fact, there is no mention in the plan about where the Counseling Center will be located after the CSU is renovated and they are no longer housed there. In my opinion, joining our offices would make complete sense when considering a number of issues. First, since we are under the same Director, Becky Boyd, we have been working together for a number of years to make sure our services (Counseling and Career Development) are complimentary, comprehensive, and share the same vision. The amount of work that has been put in to marketing our services to students, faculty and staff as "one office" has been tremendous. Looking at our office statistics, we had over 59,000 student contacts last year. We are definitely a high traffic office, and therefore very pleased that according to the Master Plan we will stay in our current location. However, the "other" part of our staff needs to be with us. When looking at the plan, it is stated: "Second Floor (Wigley Administration). Career Development can be expanded and the TRIO and Upward Bound programs relocated from Wiecking. Space vacated by the Business Office remains unassigned and can be used for surge space as other areas are being renovated." It seems to me that it is more logical to have the Counseling Center join us, rather than TRIO and Upward Bound programs. Since the space to be vacated by the Business Office is unassigned, TRIO and Upward Bound could move into that space, which would still leave the potential space for housing other departments during moving/construction. When looking at the populations our offices serve, both the Career Development Center and the Counseling Center serve current MSU students, staff and faculty. In comparison, within TRIO, Upward Bound serves 75 high school students. Talent Search serves high school students, and Ex.C.E.L. serves a maximum of 175 MSU students. I certainly feel that the TRIO programs provide excellent opportunities and resources, but to different populations than Career Development and Counseling. In addition, the Career Development and Counseling Center serves all MSU students, including those students who participate in Ex.C.E.L. Conversely, TRIO does ! not serve MSU students beyond the 175 participants they are limited to by the regulations they must follow. Second, locating the Career Development Center and the Counseling Center in the same location would be a great benefit to students. In addition to serving the same populations, we share one vision under one Director, we collaborate on services offered, and we frequently make referrals between our two offices. Third, and most importantly, we are referred to as ONE office on the MSU website, in the Right Stuff Student Handbook, in the Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Bulletins, in the Employee Handbook and on the Student Affairs organizational chart. Our "one office, two locations" set-up is often confusing and frustrating for students and staff. I view the Master Plan as an opportunity to end the confusion and frustration. I also think that the participants of the Master Plan want MSU's services to be clearer based on the following two statements made in the plan: "Improving college and department identities, space organization and space relationships: The existing distribution of space and internal pedestrian circulation system do not provide a clear sense of identity and order. Individual departments are often distributed in different buildings and on different floors within buildings. The Master Plan distributes space in a manner that provides opportunities for college and departmental identity and improves functional space relationships." "Enhancing student services: The master plan recommends the renovation of the Wigley Building to provide for improved student services through these of a -one stop- service-shopping environment. Recommendations to enhance and renovate the Centennial Student Union by the Cunningham Group and The Saratoga Associates are also included as part of the Facilities Master Plan." By locating the Career Development and Counseling Center in one physical space: we as a staff will be better able to make our "identity" known; we will be sharing space with co-workers who share many of the same functions; and students, staff and faculty will have the advantage of a "one-stop" Center for all of their career and personal counseling needs.