Student Life Committee Meeting June 8, 2022 - Board of Visitors - Christopher Newport University

Board of Visitors

Student Life Committee Meeting June 8, 2022

Present from the board

  • Judy Wason, Acting Chair
  • Regina Brayboy
  • Steve Kast
  • Sean Miller
  • Lee Vreeland

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. Robert Colvin, Vice Provost
  • Kyle McMullin, Director of Athletics
  • Brandon Jones, Director of Community Captains and Program Outreach
  • Olga Lipatova, Faculty Senate
  • Chris Mojica, Cohort I Community Captains Program
  • Bonner Scholar
  • Celine Rosario, SGA President

Not in attendance

  • Chairman Gage Morgan
  • Ella Ward

Call to Order

As Chairman Morgan was not in attendance, Acting Chair Wason called the meeting to order at 9 a.m.

Approval of Minutes:

Sean Miller motioned to accept the April 2022 minutes as submitted, with Acting Chair Wason providing the second and signing as fully approved.

Freshman Admission

Dean Rob Lange welcomed the Committee, following up on his recent report confirming pandemic rebound in terms of application numbers. Applications for the Fall 2022 semester are up 7% and deposits are up 15%. Dean Lange was pleased to report that applications have increased as compared to the recent pre-COVID years. The summer melt rate is anticipated at 3-4%, which reflects the number of students who change their mind about attending Christopher Newport between now and the September census date. Of the 1,200+ deposits that have been received to date, we expect to exceed our goal of 1,150 students by census in September.

In order to meet our goals this year, the admit rate increased. It is important to note, however, that the academic profile of our freshman class is still strong with an average high school GPA of 3.7 and SAT score of 1,200. Other highlights include a 7% increases in out-of-state commitments, with 84 of our incoming freshmen coming to us from outside of the Commonwealth--a 50% increase over last year. Thirteen percent of this incoming class also includes 153 legacies, 80 of whom have siblings who have previously attended Christopher Newport. There are 349 students of color, an increase of 33% as compared to last year. In addition, 425 of the 1,209 deposited students are participants in the President’s Leadership Program (PLP), representing 35% of the freshman class and an 8% increase over last year.

Dean Lange reported planning for Fall 2023 is also in motion, with more than 200 interviews scheduled over the next 30 days, and the expectation of welcoming thousands to the Christopher Newport campus for tours and interviews over the summer.

Adelia Thompson asked Dean Lange about the implications of financial aid challenges, and he indicated that inadequate funding for financial aid and scholarships continues to be an issue. He discussed a student who recently committed to attend who faced significant roadblocks and financial hardships despite her strong academic foundation. Extra assistance was provided by financial aid to help with her emancipation, and as a result, she is now planning to attend.

Enrollment and Student Success

After greeting the Committee, Dr. Duncan Raines elaborated on the recent 2022 Commencement. Of the nearly 1,150 graduates, 15% were legacies, largely siblings of previous Christopher Newport students. She reported that planning for Fall 2022 is in full swing across the Division, with admissions numbers being watched daily.

Dr. Duncan Raines introduced Brandon Jones, the Director of Community Captains and Program Outreach and Chris Mojica, from Cohort 1 of the Community Captains Program and a Bonner Scholar, who joined to provide an overview of the Community Captains program.

Mr. Jones thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present, and provided his background information to include being an alum of Denbigh High School in Newport News, Christopher Newport (2000) and Old Dominion University, where he earned two Masters degrees. His prior work experience includes family and community engagement in addition to K-12, both in Petersburgh and Newport News. Mr. Jones said the unique combination of his own educational experiences in Newport News and at Christopher Newport, in addition to his work experience have prepared him well for his work with the Community Captains program. Many of the people with whom he worked in the Newport News school system continue to be resources for him today.

The Community Captains program began as a two-year high school college preparatory program to assist high school juniors and seniors for academics and life beyond high school. When he joined Christopher Newport to lead the Community Captains program, there was one cohort of Community Captains. At the time, they were in high school and our challenge became preparing for their time on campus. Presently, there are four cohorts. Cohort 1 consists of 19 students on campus, all of whom are eligible to come back this fall with 95% of them having registered for the term. Cohort 2 was celebrated on Saturday, June 4, 2022, having completed the high school portion of the program. Cohort 3 is comprised of rising high school seniors, preparing for college or their next steps. Mr. Jones indicated that the program does not push Christopher Newport to the students, but the hope is their experience leads them our way. Our commitment is really to the community. Cohort 4 includes the most recently recruited rising high school juniors. Of the various cohorts, two will be on campus in the fall and the other two will be juniors and seniors in high school. The programs for each cohort are different with the intention of meeting their individual needs.

Recruitment begins at the end of their sophomore year in high school, allowing two full years of programming to prepare these students for the next step. He acknowledged the pandemic as having caused a few delays which resulted in a double cohort recruitment this past year.

Mr. Jones shared recent accomplishments including Dean’s list honors for several members of Cohort 1; a presentation at the Virginia Living Museum on gravitational pulls, a community service award, on-campus employment and a Bonner Service Scholar, Chris Mohica. This position requires service hours throughout his time on campus. Chris pitched approval of the Community Captains program as a Bonner site, securing approval for this year so that his efforts will all be in support of the Community Captains program. Mr. Jones also elaborated on the successes of Cohort 2 who were recruited during the pandemic resulting in the majority of their program experience in the virtual setting. Our celebration of these students this past Saturday is a testament to their success.

One of the most recent workshops, the inaugural Day in the Life, involved a day on campus, attending a class, lunch in the dining hall and interaction with student leaders and mentors. Collaboration across campus has been helpful, and the support has been vital to the program’s success.

Mr. Jones discussed his many travels to the various high schools in Newport News with Mr. Curtis Davidson, Office of Admission, in the recruitment of Cohorts 3 and 4. Program qualifications include being a first-generation college student and/or low socioeconomic status as defined by Newport News Public Schools. Recruitment efforts are intentional and service has been an important focus of the program because one of the goals is to foster future leaders. Local service has been promoted through a partnership with the Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads and Sleep in Heavenly Peace in which 26 beds were built to serve bedless children in Newport News (who number at least 350). Service will continue to be an integral part of programming for our Community Captains.

Mr. Jones shared a number of lessons learned. Transition to life on campus was not always smooth and the recommendation arose for a common Core Advisor to provide support. Communication has been a challenge. Another recommendation involved a living and learning community to increase cohesion. A college transitions class has also now been incorporated to teach skills on preparedness, time management, study skills, budgeting, planning and etc. We listen to students, faculty, staff and many others for ways we can continue to grow—the program is ever-growing.

Chris Mojica addressed the group providing his background. He shared that one of his two older brothers graduated from Christopher Newport making him a legacy. Initially, he did not want to follow in his brother’s footsteps; he wanted his own path. His experience with the Community Captains program and the treatment he received from the Christopher Newport staff, specifically the willingness, he noted, to go above and beyond to assist him with an opportunity to live on campus, branch out and participate, fired his desire to be a part of this community.

Chris reported that he is active in the Latin Student Association (LSA), President’s Leadership Program (PLP) and is a Bonner Service Scholar. Chris’ service is directed back into the Community Captains program, allowing him to give back to his community and his program. Chris also discussed the successful Build-A-Bed event in the spring semester with Cohorts 2 and 3, in connection with the Racial Justice Community Fund grant.

Chris discussed his goal of improving cohort cohesion. He mentioned the need for improvement in this area when he arrived on campus and his cohort members were spread thinly. These same students had been more connected in high school, and seemed to lose cohesion once on campus. He also noticed that subsequent cohorts did not seem as connected. For this reason, Chris applied for a Ferguson Fellowship grant to create an after-school program for the Community Captains so they would be able to make friends and create opportunities to help prepare them for their potential arrival on campus, building a support system from the very foundation.

Chris shared that the Community Captains program has allowed him to see things within himself that had not seemed possible. He recalled driving past the campus, seeing students socializing on the Great Lawn and feeling disconnected. The opportunity did not seem possible to him. Specifically, he felt like he would stick out and not fit in, and the opportunity was bigger than the circumstances from which he came. Chris thanked Mr. Jones, Dr. Duncan Raines and the entire Christopher Newport community for showing him that his circumstances had nothing to do with what he could achieve. If he was willing to take the risk, all things were possible. Chis has discovered he truly can be a leader and credits the program for this newfound belief in himself.

Steve Kast thanked Mr. Jones and Chris for their comments, and confirmation that the program is achieving great things.

Mr. Jones followed up with appreciation for the program having been moved under Dr. Duncan Raines’ leadership. The increased collaboration with Student Success has proven to be tantamount to program growth and success. He believes both the University and the City of Newport News are better for the Community Captains program. Mr. Kast also thanked Dr. Lee Vreeland for pushing on-campus living for the Community Captains, as he feels it is an essential aspect of their overall experience and vital to their success. Mr. Jones mentioned that one of the Cohort 2 members who had planned to commute changed her mind, wanting to live on campus after her recent experience at the end of year celebration. She knew she wanted to be a bigger part of our community. A concerted effort is made to include the few commuters into the many activities with the hope that they will change their mind; we have ensured that cost is not an obstacle to residential living.

Mr. Jones concluded by sharing that four members of Cohort 2 applied to be Bonner Service Scholars. Of the four, two received offers, with one accepting and the other accepting a Wason Center for Leadership scholarship.

Student Affairs

Dr. Hughes began by celebrating a successful year. In terms of COVID, he stated that students persevered with 4,000 having been tested for COVID this past year. Of those students, 450 were positive and 1,600 were case managed throughout the year. Masks were worn until spring break, which served our community well. There is so much to celebrate—honor graduates, where our students are getting jobs, where they attend graduate school, medical school or law school, military celebrations, etc. We celebrated students who cannot be with us at Commencement as they have advanced in academic areas or athletic competitions. He acknowledged the special year for our students with the extra celebrations surrounding our President and First Lady.

Providing schedules for Setting Sail Schedule and the PLP adventure, Dr. Hughes confirmed preparation to transition students and families to the University, to share what is important and how to embody the life of significance.

Center for Honor Enrichment and Community Standards (CHECS)

Kyle McMullin, the Director Athletics, addressed the Committee acknowledging the successful coaches and athletic experiences provided to our students as they compete for championships. Student athletes are challenged to do their best on and off the fields.

The Annual Report of Student Athlete Discipline considered data from the Center for Honor Enrichment and Community Standards (CHECS) reflecting comparable rates of infractions in both student-athletes and non-athletes. Mr. McMullin stressed that in terms of recruitment, coaches are encouraged to bring student-athletes to campus who belong at Christopher Newport University. They are encouraged to be confident that those student-athletes will want to be on campus even if athletics was not an option. Our coaches do a good job of identifying athletic recruits who want to be part of our community.

Student-athletes represent 15% of the student population, and of the academic integrity cases, 13% were student-athletes. The Student Athletics Behavioral Policy is reviewed with our student-athletes every year. In addition to CHECS, our student-athletes must answer to their individual coaches. Communication is intentional with Alyssa Reddy, Director of CHECS, Carrie Gardner, Associate Athletic Director and Kyle McMullin to ensure success.

Student Government Association (SGA)

Celine Rosario greeted the Committee, introducing herself as a rising senior from Loudoun County and being involved in SGA and Greek Life where she serves as the Director of Diversity for her sorority. She reported that students are happy to be back together and have appreciated the return of study abroad opportunities, in-person internships and summer research on campus. Preparation is ongoing for Light the Night, on August 21, 2022, which will be a mask-free event on the Great Lawn. The Student Honor Council is planning recruitment for the fall as well. The Campus Activity Board won two awards from the National Association of Campus Activities, South Region to include Board of Excellence and Social Media. She reported looking forward to working with the Board and providing updates throughout the year.


With no further discussion, Acting Chair Wason adjourned the meeting at 10:00 a.m.

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