Tuesday, October 30, 2012

OSU Tries a New Approach to Connecting to Students

Ohio State University has come up with an idea to increase retention. It is working to place faculty and others in the dorms for activities and just physical presence in the dorms to increase contact with students and to let them know that OSU does care about them. It is also providing participating students and faculty stipends for their involvement. Money is always a good incentive to get involved but other schools could do the more important mentoring and being with students at their own schools with great results. 

I personally do not think that it is necessary to offer students a stipend to get mentored. Just the opportunity would draw in a huge number of students but money is even better than pizza which often works.The details of the approach which looks to be a great way to deliver even more customer service to students are available in Inside Higher Ed article Paid to Live on Campus.

Mentoring students has been shown to be a significantly good way to increase retention. It not only shows that the university cares but also provides an outlet for solving issues and getting extra help when needed where students live in the OSU example. The article makes OSU look like a deeply caring institution that wants to put student needs foremost in its mind. Unfortunately, it may not work out that way. As the article states:
...apparently not all faculty members are on board with the idea, either; one commenter on the Lantern article who identified as a faculty member criticized the administration as being “disconnected” from the university and trying to turn it into a “giant liberal arts college.”
     “If I want to be promoted, or to create a national reputation for myself and my department, I can’t think of a worse use of my time than to babysit undergraduates in this fashion (most of whom wouldn’t welcome it in the first place),” the commenter wrote. “What an unbelievably stupid idea. The only faculty who will say yes to this are those who are not active scholars (i.e., people who shouldn’t be on the faculty in the first place).”
This rant shows so many of the reasons why student retention and learning has suffered over the past number of decades. Too many faculty do not see teaching students as their primary responsibility. This faculty member obviously has the attitude that students and teaching are impediments to him or her success. They get in the way of his selfishness and narcissistic focus. Moreover, this faculty member goes further than just students and teaching get in the way of my goals, he or she demeans all other faculty who do care about students and teaching.

The statement that these people should not be on the faculty to begin with is a sharp statement that shows why we have such horrible national retention to graduation  and graduation rates.in six years. Yes, that is six now; not four. This faculty member is a cause of our decline in international rankings and even our future. Furthermore, this faculty member does not have a clue why our society supports universities like OSU and hard to believe it is not for its football team!

Our society supports colleges and universities because they believe they educate our sons, daughters, mothers and father to have a better shot at the American dream and a stronger society. We provide funding directly and through programs like Pell because we believe colleges and universities will prepare our students to succeed. Even though public direct fiscal support has been dropping in many states, the reason there is any at all is to support the educational mission; not the petty personal objectives of faculty who place research above teaching.

Want proof? just let a college or university state that research is why it exists and teaching is something it does not want to do and see how long it survives. Faculty who do not understand that are harmful to the students as the one above is.

If this article made sense to you, you may want to contact N.Raisman & Associates to see how you can improve academic customer service and hospitality to increase student satisfaction, retention and your bottom line
UMass Dartmouth invited Dr. Neal Raisman to campus to present on "Service Excellence in Higher Ed"  as a catalyst event used to kick off a service excellence program.  Dr. Neal Raisman presents a very powerful but simple message about the impact that customer service can have on retention and the overall success of the university.  Participants embraced his philosophy as was noted with heads nods and hallway conversations after the session.  Not only did he have data to back up what he was saying, but Dr. Raisman spoke of specific examples based on his own personal experience working at a college as  Dean and President.  Our Leadership Team welcomed the "8 Rules of Customer Service", showing their eagerness to go to the next step in rolling Raisman's message out.  We could not have been more pleased with his eye-opening presentation.    Sheila Whitaker UMass-Dartmouth

If you want more information on NRaisman & Associates or to learn more about what you can do to improve academic customer service excellence on campus, get in touch with us or get a copy of our best selling book The Power of Retention: More Customer Service for Higher Education. 

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