Board of Visitors

Student Life Committee Meeting April 16, 2021

Present from the Board

  • Gabe Morgan, Chair
  • Regina Brayboy
  • Steven Kast
  • Christy Morton
  • Ella Ward
  • Judy Wason

Present from Administration, Faculty, and Students

  • Lisa Duncan Raines, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success
  • Kevin Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Rob Lange, Dean of Admission
  • Adelia Thompson, Chief of Staff
  • Rachel Holland, Faculty Senate Representative
  • Lauren Janes, Student Government Association President

Chairman Morgan called the meeting to order at 10:45 a.m.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes from Student Life Committee meeting of February 7, 2020 were approved.

Freshman Admission Update

Dean Lange reported that a clearer picture of admission numbers would be available during the June meeting as acceptances and deposits continue. Due to the shift from early decision and early action to regular decisions, applications and deposits have lagged somewhat. May 1 is the deadline for deposits.

Dean Lange discussed the impact of COVID with regard to on-campus visits as they allow Christopher Newport to shine, and the inability to offer that experience for the six months campus was closed has negatively affected application numbers and yield rate. Participation in virtual recruitment events does not compare to traditional on-campus offerings. On-campus Admitted Freshman Days typically brings more than 1,000 visitors to campus, while 500 guests total are registered for two online Admitted Freshman Day events scheduled for next week.

The Office of Admission continues to monitor daily deposits and analyze the waitlist for further action. On a positive note, the upcoming freshman class presents with a strong academic profile, an average GPA of 3.8 and increased SAT scores compared to last year (although far fewer students were able to take the test, due to COVID).

Freshman recruitment continues for this fall, and began months ago for fall 2022. On-campus tours have recently expanded from individual families, to allow groups of 10. After offering 14 online events in the fall and participating in 50 college fairs and 300 individual high school remote visits, admission staff attended another 35 recruitment programs, and hosted 31 events so far this semester (including a PLP/Honors event last night with 120 students. A creative in-person event was held this past weekend in the University’s largest market to “bring the campus” to an Alexandria, Virginia drive-in. Connections were made with 250 students over two nights, and the event involved alumni, faculty, staff and students. As previously, mentioned, two admitted freshmen events are scheduled for next week.

Dean Lange concluded by extending his thanks to the Christopher Newport community for their assistance with recruitment efforts.

Enrollment and Student Success Update

Dr. Duncan Raines discussed the 10th Annual Signing Day event, which had been modified due to COVID and inclement weather. The successful celebration was held in the Trible Library with COVID protocols in place, and resulted in 96% student participation. The Halfway There celebration followed the event in the Gregory Klich Alumni House. Those students unable to physically attend the event were provided with gifts and access to videos from campus leaders.

Dr. Duncan Raines reported a five percent increase in tutoring thus far this year. Plans are ongoing to offer summer tutoring both in person and virtually, with a concentration in STEM and language courses. Also noted was an increase in Captains Care referrals from faculty.

Dr. Duncan Raines advised of two pilot programs; the first of which is a micro-internship program designed to enhance internship opportunities in an otherwise difficult time. The program involves 44 projects, providing up to 50 hours of experience with both for-profit and non-profit agencies. Many of these opportunities are paid, and others will provide service hours. As of this week, 329 applications had been received. Of interest, interactions with employers has increased by 250% in the past few weeks when compared to this time last year.

The second pilot program is slated for summer with a goal of supporting our 1st Generation College population. Typically, 20% of the freshman class is comprised of 1st generation students, who as national data indicates, have different needs. This program will be approximately six weeks in length, beginning after Setting Sail and covering four themes.

Dr. Duncan Raines reported that approximately 1,200 candidates are anticipated to graduate in May. In addition, the Class of 2020 will also have the opportunity to be in attendance for a walk across the stage. Currently, advising and registration are in process for the summer and fall terms.

Student Affairs Update

Despite challenges due to the pandemic, Dr. Hughes began by saying this has been one of Christopher Newport’s finest years. Students were credited with adhering to guidelines and doing the work required. No major modifications to campus have been conducted this semester, following guidance provided by the Governor.

Within two weeks of the crest of positive COVID cases on campus, our community returned to single digits. Currently, four students have positive test results with 10 in quarantine. Case numbers are dropping on campus and no targeted testing has been conducted. The positive cases seen have been manageable and only mildly symptomatic. The clinic has tested 170 students, with a positivity rate less than 10%. No exit testing for students will be required, but options will be provided locally should the need exist.

Dr. Hughes advised that the campus vaccine clinics have gone smoothly and supported President Trible’s goal to serve in a community partnership. To date, on-campus clinics alone have provided over 25,000 vaccinations. Service has been provided to the local community and the Christopher Newport community as well as assistance provided to the College of William and Mary and Thomas Nelson Community College. Over 2,000 of our students have received at least one shot, and over 900 faculty and staff have been vaccinated. The Christopher Newport community alone has received 4,400 doses. The University is well ahead of our peers in the state with special thanks to Amie Dale and Tammy Sommer.

Practices requiring physical distancing and face coverings continue. There are currently no plans to require vaccines for incoming students, as per Commonwealth guidelines.

Dr. Hughes reported a reduction in on-campus mental health visits, attributing this to virtual contact with at-home providers, which has become more accessible.

Dr. Hughes reported that student engagement activities continue to be a priority on campus despite the pandemic. This year there have been 33,000 interactions between resident assistants and students; PLP continues to offer the leadership series and virtual service within the community. Clubs on campus remain active with approximately 200 events each semester, and there are 10 new organizations with 200 new Greek members. Theatrical and athletic events have continued. Plans for commencement activities on May 8 for the Class of 2020 and May 15 for the Class of 2021 are ongoing. Traditions such as walking across the stage, the penny drop, the bell ringing, and a visit to the Klich Alumni House will continue.

Steve Kast thanked Dr. Hughes for the clear COVID communication to the campus community.

Sheriff Morgan followed up by thanking Dean Lange, Dr. Duncan Raines, and Dr. Hughes for their extra efforts and professionalism.

Student Government Association (SGA)

Lauren Janes reported an overall improvement in student morale on campus, and contributed the boost to reduced restrictions regarding COVID, better weather, vaccination opportunities, and end of term. Overall, the study body is pleased with the University’s efficiency and vaccine opportunities. On campus organizations are focused on engagement opportunities for the fall. The SGA is excitedly planning next year’s Light the Night tradition. There has been increased involvement with the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, and new SGA president has been elected for the 2021-22 academic year, Mary Romanello. The most evident lesson learned this academic year has been the impact of in-person interactions on our students, both mentally and academically, and the importance to foster those interactions even in times of crisis.

Faculty Senate

Dr. Rachel Holland had no official comments to address with the committee, but indicated she would provide a report of today’s meeting to the Faculty Senate.

Adjournment

There being no further discussion, Chairman Morgan adjourned the meeting at 11:35 am.

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