Board of Visitors

Student Life Committee Meeting April 14, 2022

Present from the board

  • Gabe Morgan, Committee Chair
  • 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
  • Mary Romanello, Student Government Association President
  • Celine Rosario, Student Government Association President Elect.
  • One visitor, Deborah Roundtree

Not in attendance

  • Regina Brayboy
  • Steven Kast
  • Sean Miller
  • Ella Ward

Call to Order: Chairman Morgan called the meeting to order at 8:32 a.m.

Approval of Minutes:

The Committee approved the February 2022 minutes as submitted, with Chairman Morgan signing in approval.

Enrollment and Student Success

Dr. Lisa Duncan Raines began by acknowledging the busy spring semester across campus, notably in the Center for Career Planning with individual appointments, fairs, presentations and workshops. Efforts to grow relationships with employers have continued, with many employers having increased technology utilization and virtual operations. The Spring Jobs and Internships Fair was held over two days, with the first day consisting of the traditional, on-campus fair and the second day including a virtual component to maximize opportunities for our students. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) and Towne Bank were among student favorites. Teacher Interview Day, for our graduate Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) students, was successful, with many of our students already having contracts in place. In addition to the scheduled fairs, employers continue to visit campus on an individual basis. Among these, student favorites include PenFed, BioMAT USA Atlantic, Octapharma Plasma, SUNY Maritime College, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice and the Secret Service.

The number of jobs and internships has continued to increase this semester with more than 32,000 new postings. Student engagements remains strong with workshops and individual appointments. The popular microinternship program, Short, High Impact Project (SHIP), will continue this summer with projects spanning two to eight weeks in length, with paid offerings as well as unpaid opportunities counting as credit toward service hours. The student application deadline is approaching, and employers will soon notify selected students. Projects involve data collection and analysis, website design, youth development and more.

The 11th annual Signing Day was again held in the Paul and Rosemary Trible Library to allow for distancing with nearly 100% of our second-year students in attendance, formally declaring their major. In addition, we enjoyed celebrating our student-athlete scholars as we inducted 64 students into the Chi Alpha Sigma honor society. Students inducted have earned junior status and a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.4 or higher while also excelling in their sport.

The Academic Success team has provided more than 15,000 touchpoints this semester, with 2,100 academic coaching appointments and over 1,600 individual tutoring appointments.

Our Community Captains program continues to grow with four active cohorts presently ranging from high school juniors to college sophomores. The 19 members of Cohort 1 are fully immersed in campus life and nearing completion of their second semester as full-time Christopher Newport students. The nearly 60 students of Cohort 2 will be celebrated on campus on June 4 and recognized for completion of the pre-college portion of the Community Captains program. Cohort 3 has participated in several on-campus program days and will continue to engage with campus over the summer. Nearly 90 interviews for Cohort 4 have been conducted, and decisions are being made to finalize that cohort. Supportive programming included A Day in the Life which was held in conjunction with CNU Day offering the Community Captains an opportunity to attend class, dine in Regattas and engage with current Christopher Newport students. In addition, the Community Captains were gifted books and invited to attend a book signing with Margot Lee Shetterly. Nearly 30 Community Captains from Cohorts 1 and 2 participated in a day of service in collaboration with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, and worked with others to build 26 beds for children in need in the Newport News area. Grant funding helped to provide materials, and Newport News Shipbuilding donated mattresses. Our volunteers were asked to join in the delivery of the beds and will have the opportunity to witness the impact of service firsthand. Thus far, more than 40 activities and events have been organized for the various Community Captains cohorts.

As we approach commencement, there are nearly 1,200 graduation candidates anticipated.

Chairman Morgan expressed his sincere appreciation to supporters of the Community Captains program, and reinforced the impact of diversity and inclusion in the ability to change lives. Dr. Duncan Raines expressed that she has learned a great deal from the Community Captains and is pleased to now see siblings from previous cohorts becoming involved in the program. Brandon Jones will be joining the June meeting, along with a Community Captain, to discuss the program in more detail.

Student Affairs

With housing selection, exams and graduation, Dr. Kevin Hughes indicated this is a very stressful time of year. He has enjoyed seeing normalcy return to the Great Lawn, with a sense of community increasing as the weather improves. The maskless return after spring break went well and there have been no real COVID concerns thus far.

Dr. Hughes reported that we have invested a great deal in our leadership program, and he is often asked about the President’s Leadership Program (PLP) and the balance with academics, athletics, etc. We do ask more of those students, and they meet the challenge. We send our PLP students to present at both national and international conferences; currently our students are attending a technologies conference in Vancouver, a society for neuroscience in Chicago, and a council for social work education in Orlando. In competitions, our top-notch leadership program shines, having placed 1st and 2nd at a VMI conference, and recently placing 2nd at the Student Global Leadership Conference in London, where they placed ahead of a team from Wake Forest and behind a second-year doctoral student. The conference was on big ideas – and this recognition highlights the experience they are getting at Christopher Newport University.

End of year celebrations have filled the calendar with honor society inductions, Student Organization of the Year, Deans Service Award, Employee of the Year, Silent Leader, in addition to populations that may have found a smaller community; our Lavender Ceremony (LGBT) and multicultural graduate ceremony, both of which include alumni. With assistance from the Alumni Association, these students are introduced to groups that will go beyond their undergraduate experience.

Over 50,000 hours of community service have been logged, and Dr. Hughes reported we are on track for 75,000 hours in total, most of which has been provided in the Peninsula area by our student athletes, Bonner scholars, student organizations, etc.

Dr. Hughes acknowledged the impact of COVID, and reiterated that students are reaching out for support services. He noted a 6% increase in counseling over the academic year, with crisis interventions doubling. Efforts will continue to have these students participate in ongoing counseling as these students have opted not to participate in sustained treatment. COVID has enhanced virtual support opportunities. Anxiety and depression have been the most common mental health issues both pre- and post-pandemic. There has been a big push for virtual counseling sessions on campus and throughout the country.

Dr. Hughes is pleased to see Christopher Newport traditions return such as the Captains Ball, which was recently held. The community is coming back together with new officers in student organizations.

Looking forward, Dr. Hughes expects to discuss an updated policy in the June Student Life Committee meeting. The Governor recently signed into law an amended version of Chapter 8, Title 23.1 Article IV, which relates to higher education institutions and hazing. Known as Adam’s Law, this is named after a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman who passed away as the result of a hazing incident involving alcohol. The purpose of the law is prevention, and it includes student organizations, athletics and club sports. It requires in-person prevention training for current members, new members and potential new members, and must be offered during an orientation program. An immunity clause is required and an annual publication of statistics. This will require Board action to the current hazing policy, 9015. A resolution will be presented as well as an update on athletics from Kyle McMullin.

Chairman Morgan asked Dr. Hughes about incidents on campus, and he reported very few reports of hazing on campus. Currently a misdemeanor, there is discussion of felony level charges. Hazing is a broad term and can relate to many activities. Dr. Hughes’ concerns center around alcohol-related hazing, sleep deprivation and forced fitness. Celine Rosario indicated that her Greek life experience on campus involves a very strict anti-hazing policy.

Chairman Morgan discussed policy changes across the board in various organizations in this regard. Dr. Hughes indicated there are statewide conversations taking place on this issue.

Freshman Admission

Dean Rob Lange was pleased to begin with two non-admission interactions he experienced recently that spoke volumes about the type of students we have at CNU. One was an email from the Director of Sales/Marketing at an Outer Banks resort, complimenting Christopher Newport students who recently attended a Sigma Phi Epsilon event. Our students were polite and thankful, and no complaints were received throughout their stay. In addition, all rooms were left in good condition, and trash was removed. The hotel employee mentioned that this was a first in his 20 years hosting similar events for college fraternities. Chairman Morgan asked Dean Lange to read the complimentary letter at the full board meeting.

He also wanted to point out that while completing his dissertation, he needed to interview students and solicited volunteers through a survey. He was hesitant to do so during the busy end-of-term activities. In response to his request, Dean Lange received over 200 responses from students willing to participate. He has appreciated their enthusiasm with no real incentive for participation, other than to assist him.

May 1 is the enrollment verification deadline, so we will know where we stand on May 2. In terms of applications, Dean Lange reported that more applications were received this year than in recent pre-COVID years. He expects to receive as many enrollment deposits in the next two weeks as have been received in the last four months, since initial offers were made through Early Decision. A dramatic shift has been noted from Early Decision and Early Action to Regular Decision, reflecting an expected delay in submission, as well as a spike in admit rate. The academic profile of applicants remains been strong. Dean Lange addressed the volatility of the yield rate over the last couple of years, and anticipates Christopher Newport to fair better than last year, coming in between 1,150 and 1,200 freshmen. He acknowledged the historical “sweet spot” of 1,200 to 1,250, and this year’s minimum goal of 1,150.

Student Government Association (SGA):

SGA President Mary Romanello addressed the committee, indicating that most classes still have a mask requirement, with some being mask-optional. She has found everyone to be respectful of themselves and each other in terms of masking policy, and has found communications to go much more smoothly particularly in her foreign language class. Mary indicated the semester has been busy, and the student programming calendar has been filled with daily activities. The Campus Activities Board (CAB) is hosting Springfest tomorrow on the Great Lawn with hundreds of organizations participating. Student Honor Council is hosting Honors Week presently, with different activities each day. The Student Diversity and Equity Council (SDEC) has been busy, most recently highlighting Women in History, both at Christopher Newport, and in higher education as well as historical figures. A few SGA delegates participated in this event, one of whom works at NASA. Another delegate who is running for a committee chair next year recently accepted an internship with the FBI. SGA is fortunate to have a great bunch of delegates moving forward. The Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted an undergraduate development conference, focused on collaborative leadership. Greek life has been active, enjoying time on the Great Lawn, participating in formals and getting back to normal. Our Black fraternities and sororities on campus have been doing a great deal of social work, hosting a showcase, a beautiful event, where African American singers, dancers and songwriters come to share their art, both students and alumni, hosted each year with proceeds going to charity. SGA hosted Staff Appreciation Day. SGA has also hosted a stress relief workshop with free snacks and pillows in the room. Mary indicated this is her last meeting as SGA President, and thanked the committee for their service and encouragement. After commencement, Mary will be serving as a residential fellow on East Campus.

Celine Rosario introduced herself as the SGA President Elect, a rising senior majoring in Business Management and Communication Studies. She has been active with SGA since her first year, and is a member of Alpha Phi Theta. She is excited to begin with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She serves as the Director of Diversity in her sorority and will incorporate her knowledge into this position. She will continue to support other initiative such as campus safety (lights), accessibility (doors) and the replacement of missing bricks. Celine would like to see community involvement increase with two days of service and plans to attend local council meetings to facilitate collaborations. One of the SGA delegates has experience in software and applications, and plans to work on an application that will provide information about all that is offered on campus, but in one place. She will lead the first all-female SGA leadership organization, and is also the first Hispanic leader.

Closing:

Chairman Morgan discussed the need for a strategic planning event to evaluate our current model. He suggested an internal conversation regarding national trends and where we see ourselves. Our model is based upon a small, liberal arts, residential campus with a class size of 15, a business school with no online component, and Chairman Morgan feels a strong conversation needs to be explored. Chairman Morgan also discussed the idea of a return on investment in terms of a college education. Dean Lange indicated students are traveling more, and more options are available to them.

Dr. Lee Vreeland asked about financial aid package timeframes, and Dr. Duncan Raines indicated the students should have received their packages. Dean Lange pointed out that the decision for net cost continues as a concern for all students when considering affordability, and return on investment as Chairman Morgan stated.

Judy Wason asked about data from graduating seniors in terms of jobs, and Dr. Duncan Raines provided information on the survey conducted each year six months after graduation. The most recent survey in 2021 reflected nearly 97% of the graduates as either gainfully employed or enrolled in graduate school.

Adjournment: There being no further discussion, Chairman Morgan adjourned the meeting at 10:00 a.m.

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