Conversation Café came to life on May 7, 2014 as the result of innovative planning and a critical look at the unique climate of student affairs at UAA. The Planning Committee considered the current needs and values of Student Affairs staff where 89% of survey respondents said they were interested in opportunities for communication and collaboration across departments or functional areas, 87% interested in having social interaction with colleagues, 84% interested in learning about the job function of other departments in Student Affairs, and 82% interested in preventing burnout and maintaining motivation (SA Staff Development Needs & Interest Inventory, October 2013).
Café Responses to Student Affairs Themes
Student Affairs colleagues were invited to join, engage, and explore two of the following cafés throughout the day that are rooted in our Student Affairs core themes. Exploring issues together encourages new ways of thinking, creates new possibilities, and engages diverse perspectives. Colleagues will delve deeper into the topics discussed at the conversation cafes throughout the upcoming year. The ideas and themes produced will also help advance Student Affairs strategic planning and staff development efforts.
Student Learning & Success
Create opportunities that recognize the value of student experiences and learning development; this is success even without attaining a degree. If a student graduates with a degree but $95K in debt, is that success? UAA should be more accountable for student debt, not just for their success.
Café hosted by Jennifer Headrick.
Emphasis on streamlining the UA system to meet student needs and advancing the state of Alaska for the people of Alaska; strengthening partnerships and communications to create a more consistency and pride across the UA system. What does school spirit mean to UAA?
Café hosted by Whitney Brown.
Advance the Profession
Creating a culture where staff actively engage in research, professional development, and innovative use of technology. Greater emphasis on cultural competencies, embracing diversity, and reflecting the cultural diversity of the student body. Centralized Student Affairs on campus.
Café hosted by Ryan Hill.
University & Community Partnerships
The unique significance & responsibility UAA has to Alaska’s economic future and development. Does this significance and responsibility currently match our efforts in town and gown relations? Where do we meet and where do we fall short in best practices in this arena?
Café hosted by Sam Holsthouser.
Student, Staff & Faculty Well-Being
Connectedness & belonging brings purpose & meaning. Great appreciation in getting to slow down, connect with colleagues, and concentrate on issues that matter to everyone as a whole. Valued expressing their roles and beliefs in the larger campus values and seeing how they connect.
Café hosted by Rachel Murdoch.
The day also featured a custom video celebrating Student Affairs at UAA, the recognition of all colleagues and their amazing stories, inspiration and acknowledgment from speaker David Coleman, and five Seawolf Howls. Seawolf Howls are 10-minute talks grounded in the Student Affairs core themes contributed by UAA faculty and staff that provide colleagues an innovative look at topics near and dear to student affairs and UAA.
Watch the Seawolf Howls – click on the links below.
Conversation Café built community, strengthened relationships, and engaged everyone’s unique contribution and voice to harvest motivating conversation and enhance cross-department collaborations. As a result of participating in Conversation Café:
100% of survey respondents met at least one new colleague;
94% had the opportunity to share their voice about topics that matter;
89% engaged in meaningful conversations with colleagues;
81% learned more about the work being done by other departments within Student Affairs;
81% have a better understanding of the mission and impact of Student Affairs at UAA;
78% made contacts with other departments and feel more comfortable to collaborate with them in the future; and
78% feel more connected to UAA.