Board of Visitors

Student Life Committee Meeting September 24, 2021

Present from the board

  • Gabe Morgan, Chair
  • Regina Brayboy
  • Sean Miller
  • Lee Vreeland
  • Judy Wason

Present from Administration, Faculty, and Students

  • Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success
  • Dr. Kevin Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Rob Lange, Dean of Admission
  • Adelia Thompson, Chief of Staff
  • Dr. John Finn, Faculty Senate Representative
  • Mary Romanello, Student Government Association President

Not in attendance

  • Steven Kast
  • Dr. Ella Ward 

Call to Order: Because Chairman Morgan was delayed, Regina Brayboy called the meeting to order at 8:42 a.m.

Approval of Minutes:

Regina Brayboy motioned to accept the minutes from the June 2021 meeting, which was seconded by Judy Wason. 

Freshman Admission

After introductions, and as a follow-up to the efforts discussed at the June committee meeting, Rob Lange addressed summer melt which impacted enrollment of the fall freshman class. In June, 1,055 net deposits had been received, and at census (two weeks ago), the number was 1,012. (Note: 19 of these students are Community Captains; 4 of whom are from An Achievable Dream for a total of 5 students from an Achievable Dream.) The budget for FY22 was shaped based on 1,000 new freshmen.

Lange is encouraged by the freshman class profile, with an average high school GPA of 3.8 and SAT Score of 1,214. In addition, 40% of these new students are in the President’s Leadership Program and/or the Honors Program, 121 are legacies and 26% of the freshman class are students of color, which is the highest percentage of the freshman class in the modern Christopher Newport era.

Dean Lange compared this year’s early indicators falling somewhere between 2019 and 2020. Lange shared that there was a 67% increase in the number of personal interviews conducted with high school rising seniors this past summer compared to last year.

Dean Lange reported on Christopher Newport’s partnership with 3E Marketing to modernize our marketing, recruitment, and communication plan; online presence; and social media marketing efforts. The first campaign was launched less than two weeks ago, and he hopes to have results to report at the next committee meeting. The intent is to track online behaviors of prospective students and their influences to differentiate messaging, and prioritize marketing and recruitment activities.

Dean Lange shared that the Office of Admission is back on the road again, visiting schools and college fairs in-person combined with virtual programs. Our first in-person open house event in 18 months is scheduled for tomorrow (September 25) with 650 in-person guests registered and 75 who plan to attend virtually. The President’s address and the various panels across campus will be livestreamed to accommodate our virtual guests.

Our application for 2022-23 went live last month; we are up in submitted applications as compared to this time in 2019, prior to the pandemic. In terms of the admission process compared to last year, we are up in all metrics -- high school visits and college fairs, campus tours, interviews, event participation, and application submissions. We will continue a hybrid approach with all of our in-person events, as well as stand-alone virtual options, to maximize outreach.

Enrollment and Student Success

Lisa Duncan Raines began by reporting a 100% student compliance rate with regard to the vaccine requirement put in place by the Board of Visitors, nearly 94% of whom are fully vaccinated. The remaining 6% have an approved exemption on file. As the result of the requirement, 29 students were disenrolled for non-compliance as of the established deadline. Of those, six students were re-enrolled after meeting the requirement, resulting in a net loss of 23 students. An additional 60 students withdrew before decision day because of the requirement (or additional COVID concerns).

Our overall retention rate was at 87% prior to these withdrawals. As 21 of the withdrawals were sophomores and nine of the disenrolled students, our first-year retention took a hit. Dr. Duncan Raines reminded the group that our second-year students had a very different experience in their first year on campus. She confirmed that a plan is in place to stay in touch with those students, to offer support and assistance with getting them re-enrolled.

Overall, Dr. Duncan Raines reported that our students have done a fantastic job with compliance. A weekly report of students who are required to participate in weekly testing is provided to Student Affairs, and Dr. Hughes will elaborate on that process a little later.

Dr. Duncan Raines discussed efforts over the summer to reflect on lessons learned to discuss what worked well and not so well during the challenging times of COVID. Based on these lessons, our student support services are now being offered in a hybrid fashion, both in-person and virtually, to best accommodate our students. The experience gained in sharing documents has enhanced virtual student support components. With all of our in-person events, safety protocols remain in place to include masking, distancing, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. All participants are notified in advance about these protocols and expectations. In addition, we ask that employers and graduate schools visiting campus send vaccinated and symptom-free representatives.

At the recent Accounting Days recruitment fair, 23 firms were represented for post-graduation jobs and internships. Of those firms, 70% were ranked by Inside Public Accounting (IPA). As the result of this fair, some of our students had 9, 10 or 11 interviews over the two-day event. Our accounting majors have a job, perhaps even their choice of jobs, when they graduate, or they have made graduate school plans to secure the necessary credit hours for the CPA exam. Next week, our Jobs and Internships Fair will take place over two days, with the first day being an in-person event and the second being virtual for those employers with continuing travel restrictions. Of the companies registered for this event, 20% are Fortune 500 companies. Next month, we will host a jobs and internships fair specifically for students majoring in physics, computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, cyber security and information science. We will also host a graduate school fair later in the month. Dr. Duncan Raines indicated that of the employers who come to campus for recruitment efforts, nearly 40% are Christopher Newport graduates who continue to serve as ambassadors for the University.

Dr. Duncan Raines elaborated on the positive impact of the increased in-person interactions with students. Overall, individual student appointments within the division have increased by 64%. The Center for Career Planning alone reports over 3,300 student interactions as compared to 155 at this point last year—a significant increase in student engagement. Job postings have more than doubled and the University has facilitated four times the amount of employer hosted events as compared to last year. The FBI was on campus last week for an information session for which over 100 students participated. Efforts continue to develop our micro-internship program, to increase paid internship opportunities year-round. A great deal of positive feedback was received from both our students and the participating employers with regard to this pilot program.

Dr. Duncan Raines reported that fall semester tutoring appointments began this week, with more than 220 tutoring sessions already completed. At the department’s request, we have developed and initiated our own version of Supplemental Instruction (SI) in physics and two computer science courses. With SI, a peer tutor attends class with students and holds study and tutoring sessions with those same students. We have 30 peer mentors working with more than 300 new freshmen, with over 700 meetings conducted to date. Nearly 900 students have completed tutoring orientation as of this week, which is the first step in the tutoring process.

Advising begins next month, with registration for the spring and summer terms to follow. Dr. Duncan Raines reported that efforts to develop a new program involving peer mentors and accountability pods is in motion, with more information to follow based on the specific needs of our first-year students given their high school experience during the pandemic.

Chairman Morgan asked whether we are able to track the hires resulting from our job fairs. Dr. Duncan Raines advised that we do have these data available in cases where the students and/or employers have provided us with an update. We have relationships with approximately 5,300 organizations. Many students stay in Virginia, the District of Columbia or Maryland, and many are interested in working for federal agencies. The career fair experience is beneficial to our students providing networking opportunities as well as exposure to various employers with a wide range of positions.

Student Affairs

Kevin Hughes began by indicating the University largely achieved the goal set for the Fall 2021 experience being similar to the Fall 2019 experience. The vaccine mandate played a huge role as well as the efforts by our students, faculty and staff. Testing compliance has been critical, and the documentation efforts – which was a heavy lift by Dr. Duncan Raines and her team – have made tracking this information possible, allowing us to reach 100% compliance. We are trying to provide more freedoms with controls in place; though no tailgating is permitted at this time, we are allowing outdoor activities with more participation, movement between residence halls, larger capacity dining, all while wearing masks when inside. Isolation and quarantine locations remain available for students in need who choose to remain on campus. Not all schools continue to provide isolation/quarantine areas which can lead to underreporting. Mandatory testing of students who have not been fully vaccinated has been the biggest step. On average, we conduct 230 to 240 student tests per week at the Wellness Center with roughly 1,000 completed to date. Our student-athletes are tested separately through the Athletics Department while in season and in compliance with NCAA requirements. In both instances, students are assigned a time slot to appear for testing. Faculty/staff testing is handled differently and is completely separate from student testing. Through the student testing process, we have had five confirmed positive cases in our Riverside Clinic and four through the Athletics Department. As of today, there have been no positive cases reported since September 7 through that process.

Missed testing appointments have not been a big issue. The first missed appointment results in a warning; the second missed appointment results in a CHECS violation; and the third missed appointment results in a removal from campus with a return contingent upon a negative test. Most students tested through the Wellness Center have been negative. To date, a total of 25 positive student cases have been reported since the start of the fall semester, some of which were reported by students who sought tests off-campus . Last year’s numbers were significantly higher in terms of surge cases and cumulative reports. This semester, our highest weekly total of positive cases was seven, and there are currently four. Strep has been more of an issue. To date, we have required 82 students to isolate or quarantine; while many of our students do not isolate on campus, 26 did utilize our on-campus resources to quarantine/isolate.

In keeping with our core values, Dr. Hughes discussed Day One of Service which involved the entire freshman class and focused on discovering Newport News and what it means to be a Christopher Newport student. To effectively include all new freshmen, the Center for Community Engagement partnered with the President’s Leadership Program and Orientation and Student Engagement.

Dr. Hughes reported the Honors Convocation included both the Class of 2024 and 2025 in separate ceremonies.

Dr. Hughes stated that our students are encouraged to find something to join - to find an on-campus community. Targeted receptions have been coordinated for underrepresented populations, including our multicultural student population and our LGBTQ student population. This approach is designed to help them find their community as soon as possible. He feels good about where we are and indicated that we are close to where we want to be.

In response to Chairman Morgan’s questions, Dr. Hughes indicated that our numbers for counseling services provided through the Health and Wellness Center are higher than last year but not quite as high as in the fall of 2019. He is pleased our students are seeking assistance in-person as opposed to using telehealth options. Dr. Hughes indicated that students who are off campus due to illness are encouraged to stay in touch with their faculty members who in some instances offer virtual office hours. Dr. Duncan Raines indicated the Provost has given faculty some flexibility in determining how to best assist students due to absences. John Finn from the Faculty Senate reported that there are no expectations that livestreaming will continue, and absences due to illness will all be treated the same. Professors are finding ways to respond to students based on the demands of the course(s).

Student Government Association (SGA)

Mary Romanello shared details about the Light the Night event which went very well. Last minute adjustments were needed, and several plans were submitted for review with quick action on Dr. Hughes’ part. Mary remained in regular communication with Dr. Hughes leading up to the event. All participants were required to wear masks, provide Campus Clear proof, and vaccination compliance was based on our Honor Code. Hand sanitizing stations were placed throughout the event with delegates assigned to monitor compliance. WCME Radio provided the music. The students had a wonderful time and were excited to be together.

Mary discussed upcoming projects, to begin with a second day of service and community outreach scheduled for the first week of November (Habitat for Humanity – Hampton Roads area and Beach Clean Up Crew) with assignments based on a first-come, first-served basis. The hope is that next semester this second day of service will be bigger as there is more time to plan the event. Details continue to be finalized, and safety protocols will be observed throughout.

Mary indicated the SGA takes great pride in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The SGA met over the summer to discuss this topic, and they are currently amending their constitution to include more efforts. The SGA wishes to be inclusive of all students and has discussed distributing pronoun buttons as an educational opportunity. They are making plans to implement a gender-free bathroom in the David Student Union and are working with Christine Ledford to accomplish this initiative.

The SGA’s sustainability team has placed a stormwater sign in front of the stadium to educate individuals on the impact of storm water.

Chairman Morgan advised Mary that Dr. Angela Spranger would be an excellent resource for their DEI team, as she is the Chief Diversity Officer for the University.

Faculty Senate

John Finn was present on behalf of the Faculty Senate, and agreed to provide an update to them regarding today’s discussions. He reported that appreciation for the vaccine mandate and mask policy was the sentiment from an overwhelming majority of the faculty.

Closing

Chairman Morgan thanked Regina Brayboy for leading today’s meeting due to his late arrival, and he addressed the Heritage High School shooting earlier in the week. He reminded the committee to keep their ears to the ground and stressed the importance of saying something if you see something. As we can never be too prepared for unfortunate events, he encouraged planning and training efforts to come off the shelf more than once annually.

Chairman Morgan commended Dean Lange, Dr. Duncan Raines and Dr. Hughes for all of their efforts and confirmed his belief that mandatory vaccinations were the correct course of action.

Judy Wason addressed the group regarding the recent inaugural Distinguished Virginians Program event with the Wason Center for Civic Leadership, featuring Virginia Supreme Court Justice Bill Mims, Senator Jennifer McClellan, Hampton City Treasurer Molly Ward and former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Greater than 1,000 Christopher Newport students attended the successful event, and they were well engaged with the panel.

Introductions of the newest Student Life Committee members, Lee Vreeland, President and Chief Executive Officer of An Achievable Dream, and Sean Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, were made.

Adjournment

There being no further discussion, Chairman Morgan adjourned the meeting at 9:49 a.m.

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