While seniors are planning for post-graduate life and students across the campus are solidifying summer plans, William Jewell College’s many departments are reflecting on the past year and looking for ways to improve the campus in the future. This week, “The Hilltop Monitor” asked four department heads to address the strengths, challenges and priorities for their departments in the next year.
William Jewell College has undergone many changes in the past five years. Jewell athletics joined the NCAA as a Division II program and the face of the campus has changed with the new Pryor Learning Commons. Further, students, faculty and staff are adjusting to Jewellverse with all its associated benefits and challenges.
Dr. Darlene Bailey, director of the Athletics Department, stated that in Jewell’s fourth year as a division two school, the Athletics Department has moved out of the transition phase and into a period of stability.
“We’ve had changes in our program,” Bailey said, “but overall we’ve had good continuity in our staff, and we continue to have pretty good continuity of students in terms of building our teams.”
Now out of the transition phase, the Athletics Department faces challenges regarding resource allocation, regulation compliance and the demands of an instant, digital world. Even with limited resources, Bailey is still feeling the pressure to post instant game scores ad constantly update Twitter feeds.
In light of these changes and challenges, Dr. Bailey stated that the mission of the department has remained the same.
“[The goal is to] recruit, retain, and graduate quality students to be as competitive in our athletic programs as we can possibly be,” said Bailey.
Bailey also identified increasing campus involvement among student athletes and telling the stories of students in Jewell’s athletic program as objectives for the upcoming year.
“I think there’s this notion that athletics are down the hill,” Bailey said. “But if you look at the student athletes, individually and collectively, most of them are involved in a lot of things. They write for the paper, or they’re in a sorority, or they’re in debate, they’re doing research. To be able to tell that story is something I’d like to do better […] to better tell the story of the Division II student athlete experience.”
Dean of Admissions Cory Scheer works to recruit prospective Jewell students as early as their sophomore year in high school.
“We think of our priorities in terms of three year rolling priorities,” Scheer said. “So right now we’re very, very focused on the recruitment of our 2015 class, but we’re also communicating and reaching out very intentionally with rising seniors and current juniors. So we’re really building that pool of students that will look at Jewell in 2016, and we’re also communicating already with sophomores. We know that the earlier the communication is the more opportunity there is for Jewell to be in consideration for their college choice.”
Scheer identified the Admissions Department’s greatest challenge as the same challenge every admissions department faces: making Jewell stand out. In order to meet the challenge, the Admissions Department uses a customer relationship management system to communicate how a Jewell education benefits current students and how it has helped alumni succeed. Admissions also benefits from strong cooperation with Jewell’s faculty. Scheer believes that one of the best ways to communicate the value of a Jewell education and to determine if Jewell is the best fit for a prospective student is for the student to visit Jewell’s campus.
“We have to be able to get students on campus to see whether or not Jewell is a good fit for them,” Scheer said. “Because that’s the most important decision for a student, is it a good fit or not, it’s nearly impossible for a student to enroll at Jewell unless they’ve been to Jewell for something. So we want to make sure they come on campus to experience Jewell, to interact with current students, to talk to faculty, to speak with staff and to experience what Jewell is all about.”
Scheer has been the dean of Admissions at Jewell for eleven months, and he identifies his staff as the greatest strength of the department.
“The greatest strength that we have is our staff and the team I have the privilege to work alongside,” Scheer said. “We have a very, very strong commitment to insuring that we provide an exceptional experience for our prospective students, whether that’s through the events that we host on campus, or when we have students that do individual visits, or our communication that goes out, through paper or publication. It requires a really dynamic and exceptional staff in order for that to occur, so that is our number one strength.”
Chad Martie, director of Campus Safety, is responsible for maintaining the safety and security of the Jewell community. Echoing other department heads, Martie identifies one his department’s greatest strengths as its strong relationship with Student Life and the administration. In addition, the department enjoys a “positive and collaborative relationship with the Liberty Police Department, Clay County Sheriff Department and Liberty Fire Department.”
In case of emergency, all campus safety officials are trained in CPR, AED and First Aid. Nevertheless, Martie identified one of Campus Safety’s challenges in the next year as quickly responding to non-emergencies.
“As on many college campuses, [dealing with] parking and responding to non-emergencies in a timely manner are always a challenge,” Martie said. “The officer on duty must prioritize his calls, and this leads to people sometimes having to wait longer for non-emergency responses than I would like. This is something that we strive to eliminate but does arise from time to time.”
Campus Safety also continues to be challenged by the parking situation on campus.
“The parking is always going to be a hurdle that will need to be overcome,” Martie said. “My staff in part with William Jewell College will continue to try to control and improve the parking issues on campus. Having all members of our community park where they should would really help and would make our campus safer for all.”
In the next year, Campus Safety is planning to advance the building captain program which trains campus citizens to be prepared in emergencies such as tornados or fires.
Behind the scenes, Jason Rombalski for director of Facilities Management, keeps the campus machine running through a cycle of preventative maintenance to the campus infrastructure and the ability to respond quickly to emergencies.
The preventative maintence cycle is a Student Life – Facilities collaborative master plan. This plan includes data on the life expectancy of various objects in the residential spaces such as lightbulbs, furniture, paint and carpet. By documenting the life expectancy of each item, Facilities and Student Life can make a long term plan for maintaining all residential spaces. This process allows for more accurate budget forecasting and ensures that all residential spaces are kept to a certain standard.
Despite data-driven planning, Facilities still faces emergencies such as clearing snow and ice from roads and walkways or responding to unexpected accidents.
“We generally have the ability to respond quickly when we need to,“ Rombalski said. “We have great cooperation within our community to achieve the things that we need to […for example, dealing with the flooding] in Marston, and in that staff, faculty and students have been fantastic to work with.”
In the past year, Facilities replaced the roofs of Eaton Hall and Browning Hall and repaired the roof on Ely Hall. This was a large capital project supplemented by insurance money from storm damage. In addition, the interior of the Lambda Chi Alpha house was painted and community space was added in Jones. In the upcoming year, Facilities is planning to continue updating campus infrastructure and better prepare themselves to respond to emergencies.
Rombalski summed up the feelings of all four department heads about the upcoming year.
“I’m excited for where we’re headed. ‘Improving’ is the word, absolutely.”