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Future of Student Affairs: Communications Strategy

The Working Group on Communications Strategy explored best practices for communicating with students as well as with staff across the division. The co-chairs for the group were Nate Boswell, Associate Dean, Residential Education, and Inge Hansen,  Psychologist, Counseling and Psychological Services.  The group was charged with exploring the following: 
  • Research best practices in how universities and student affairs units maintain a dialogue with students, with particular interest in how administrators communicate about conversations they want to have with the community, changes they are considering, decisions that have been made and national/international events.  
  • Examine and map a communications process for students that answers:  What mechanisms do we want to use to communicate with students?  What do we want to say?  What are our operating principles?  What role should each unit play in communication with students?  How many communications do we send divisionally throughout the year?  How can we engage our students in multimodal ways?  How do we use our communication to be developmental, to teach, to share values and to manage risk?  What values should be communicated in all of our messaging?   How do we ensure that our communications (virtual and in person) provide opportunities to listen, engage and reflect?
  • How can technology be leveraged as a mechanism for communicating with students?  Examine the viability of social media as a communication mechanism with our students.  Examine best practices.  Make recommendations.
  • Examine messages and mechanism for Student Affairs leadership to communicate with broader Student Affairs staff around decisions, changes and national/international events.  Consider communication as a mechanism to raise awareness of divisional, university and national/international changes to help facilitate their local work.
  • Map a communication process for our staff.  What values should be conveyed in all of our messages? What roles should convey what information? What frequency should we be in communication with our staff?  How do we ensure that our communication fosters a sense of empathy and inclusion?  How can we ensure that communication is consistent with staff members' "lived" experience(s) and/or works to bridge the gap between our desired state and our current state?
The members of the Communications Strategy Working Group were: 
Cisco Barron, Director of Information, Residential Education
Sean Bogle, Associate Director, Office of Community Standards (2016-17 academic year) 
Nate Boswell, Associate Dean, Residential Education  (Co-Chair)
Kathryn Gelman, Quality Manager, Vaden Health Center
Inge Hansen, Psychologist, Counseling and Psychological Services, Vaden Health Center (Co-Chair)
Faith Kazmi, Associate Dean, Director, Women's Community Center
Snehal Naik, Assistant Dean and Associate Director, Student Activities and Leadership
Sheetal Patel, Director of Branding and Digital Communities,  BEAM, Stanford Career Education
Megan Swezey Fogarty, Deputy Executive Director, Haas Center for Public Service
Kelly Takahashi,  Senior Financial Analyst, Student Financial Services
The group concluded its work in Fall 2017 by piloting a new time format for Student Affairs all-staff meetings at the September 2017 meeting. Throughout the year, Student Affairs continued to pilot the group's ideas at staff meetings and used surveys to elicit and evaluate staff feedback on the new format. The group also worked with the Collective Student Response Working Group  and with the VPSA's central communications office on a new template for responding to student groups.