How to Engage More Students in the Marylhurst Community (by Victoria Wortham)

VictoriawithLetterThe Research Question:

Why should Marylhurst make community and student involvement part of their mission and how should they start?

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The Public Writing:

Dear Dean Zuelke:

I am writing to you as an active student here at Marylhurst seeking your help, and guidance to strengthen the community among students, faculty and staff. I have been a student on this joyful campus for over a year, and I still feel disconnected to my fellow Marylhurst people.  The happiness and motivation that flows through the campus never seems to connect people. People who feel they have a place and community will feel more motivated and supported.

I have tried to do my part to join the community by participating in The Student Leadership Council. I have planned many events with little, to no success. My most recent was organizing an Operation Christmas Child donation event through Samaritan’s Purse. My hope for this event was that serving others would encourage people to attend, and subsequently begin a ripple of community growth. The lack of involvement, and attendance proved otherwise. So I began to talk to people to see how people are feeling.

There were three general issues I gathered from talking to students and staff that seemed to continually come up in conversation. People either didn’t see the value in the event, didn’t hear about the event at all, or they never got full details of the event. As far as I can tell these are disconnects we can fix. If there was a greater focus on communication, and maybe one large community social each term maybe these issues can slowly change. This may not change the entire dynamic of Marylhurst, but it could be a start to create a more cohesive partnership across campus.

This letter is the continuation of my action. I want you to be aware of my passion to create a unique community here on campus that matches the unique characteristics of Marylhurst. I have done plenty of work so far with little success. That’s where you come in. I hope that with your help we can create a lasting bond for every person who steps onto our beautiful campus. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Victoria Wortham

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The Research Collection:

White, Byron P. “Power, Privilege, and the Public: the Dynamics of Community-University Collaboration.” New Directions for Higher Education. 152.152 (2011): 67-74. Web. 25 November 2012.

Summary: White has a wonderful insight as to how community is made and the real life benefits of it. He uses phrases such as “…mutual benefit…” and “…peer relationships are essential…” to describe the importance of community on a college campus. He makes great points about the idea that universities prepare students to become educated citizens, so students need a community to be a part of that process. The lack of community is a lack of an integral part of society.

Opinion: Marylhurst University is a very professional university. The end of the road for many students is a serious, life long career. Our students need to have a community to feel they are a part of, and a pride they can take with their diploma. Having an organized and developed community benefits all involved. Faculty and staff will also have a greater pride in their school, job and students if there was a greater sense of communtity.

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Kenney, Daniel R, Ricardo Dumont, and Ginger S. Kenney. Mission and Place: Strengthening Learning and Community Through Campus Design. Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers, 2004. Web.18 November 2012.

Summary: This is a book written by Daniel Kenney that discusses the ever-changing college campus, and the fact that all campuses require a design or a plan to be successful. There are many factors he brings to light about the campus, the universities, and the way everything is run. Kenney studies the way colleges and universities have changed over the years, and how it has impacted community involvement. The dynamic of community changes with things such as online classes and requiring students to live on campus for one year. Kenney seems to stress the idea that campuses are changing; yet the institutions are not adapting to such change.

Opinion: This book examines many college campuses ranging from Harvard to Western Wyoming Community College. Western Wyoming Community College is only about 2 times bigger than Marylhurst, so it is easy to relate their involvement and campus community to ours. Many students don’t realize all the different departments and areas that each has a head and a team. The design of a campus is important for its stability. Because Marylhurst is so unique there isn’t one design it fits into. This also contributes to the things that have become less assessable to student. The community part of Marylhurst’s design could be strengthened.

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McCallum, Constance L. “The Perception of Adult Learners Concerning their Satisfaction of Their Educational Experiences in a Midwestern Community College” (2012). Dissertations. Paper 30.

Summary: Dr. Constance McCallum conducted a study examining what aspects of a students’ life affect their satisfaction with their education. There are many needs and expectations adult learners expect. The study came to the conclusion that everyone’s experience and background are so different that there needs to be an institution that specifies in adult learning.

Opinion: Marylhurst is such an institution, but there are aspects at which we are not as strong. If a student doesn’t feel welcome and happy to be here they will not stay, recommend us or enjoy their experience here. Focusing on community and building stronger bonds between faculty, staff, students and the surrounding areas will help give students a stronger connection to Marylhurst.

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Oja, Michelle. “Student Satisfaction and Student Performance.”  The Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. 19.1(2012).50-56. Web. 19 November 2012.

Summary: This is a research journal based on a study done about satisfaction of students on community college campus. Through the research collected in these studies they found that students with higher grades seemed more satisfied with their overall school experience, and, conversely, students with lower grades had lower satisfaction. There isn’t any evidence as to which caused the other but I think the environment around the students can easily inspire but also discourage their learning. The way fellow students and staff treat a person can affect their work. There are a lot of factors that could affect one’s experience.

Opinion: Marylhurst isn’t a community college, but its status as a commuter campus and adult learning environment gives it a lot of similarities with one. Many community colleges don’t have on-campus housing, many activities or much community building. There are ways Marylhurst can learn from these campuses to try to rise above. I think a stronger community could be something that inspires instead of the discouraging lack of one.

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