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Whether you are a returning University of Arizona student or a new Wildcat, it is important to get involved and remain engaged in on and off-campus activities. It turns out this is not only beneficial for building a resume, but also for mental, emotional and academic health.
That's the message UA Dean of Students Keith Humphrey is sending to students.
Looking ahead to the 2012-13 academic year, Humphrey encourages students to be engaged, to communicate with his office and to work to find balance in life. In fact, he and his staff have initiated a set of new priorities to develop more collaborative relationships with students to aid in improved student engagement and success.
Humphrey says he looks forward to participating in UA events and engaging in the many traditions that help to create lasting bonds across and beyond the University. In fact, he not only will serve as an administrator, but one of his sons will be moving on campus as a new Wildcat.
Q: What are you looking forward to this academic year?
A: There are a lot of things that are exciting at the start of the academic year, and definitely this year with new leadership in President Ann Weaver Hart and Provost Andrew Comrie. I expect an exciting year of new energy for the University. Also, there is the energy of the beginning of the school year and of Family Weekend and Homecoming, right on through to the celebration of graduation.
Q: What are you anticipating from the student body?
A: I am looking forward to hearing what new students expect out of their university experience. I think part of our role is to listen really closely to what students hope to achieve and to try and make sure we’re making that happen as, with each new freshman class and each new class of graduate students, things shift a little. And, of course, each fall I always look forward to the Rose Bowl, and I am confident that this is the year that it will happen for us.
Q: For students either on or off campus, whether they are new Wildcats or returning, what do you hope they get out of their experience at the University?
A: I hope they engage as deeply as they can with the University. That to me means many different things: that they are connecting with their faculty both in and out of class, that they are building deep relationships with their fellow Wildcats, that they are participating in a meaningful way in clubs and organizations that they are part of. One of the smart things our students did in choosing to come to a large comprehensive research university is that we have so much they can take from this place that we want them to take as much as they can starting with the first day. There is no one right way to get involved, because it really does depend on what the person wants to do and where they intend to go in life.
Q: What should students know about the role and responsibilities of the Office of the Dean of Students?
A: When I started in October, I wanted the office to be more student-friendly. We have the institutional task of upholding the Student Code of Conduct, and that is very important, but there are ways we will be working to ensure that when a student comes here they don’t feel like they are coming to a principal's office. And students should know about our coordinators of student assistance and accountability. Our coordinators are here to help students to navigate those challenges they cannot figure out where to place. While those coordinators may not be able to fix all issues raised, they can help find the experts.
Q: How can students connect with you?
A: I maintain a Facebook page and encourage students to connect with me there. Also, I keep weekly office hours from 4-5 p.m. on Mondays in the Nugent Building. I invite students to come speak with me personally whenever they need to.
Q: UA President Ann Weaver Hart encourages students to be actively engaged, to have fun during their time at the University and to also be mindful of their emotional and physical health. Why is this advice so important for all of our students?
A: At the end the day, if I were to say we are about one thing, it’s about taking that promise and energy of the admissions letter and making sure we see each of our students all the way through to graduation. Along the way, emotional and physical well-being, along with students being actively involved both in and outside of the classroom are absolutely crucial. This will help ensure that each student is able to go as far as he or she can and achieve graduation. We have many resources at the UA. The Campus Recreation Center and Campus Health Service are tremendous resources. Our dieticians can help you figure out a food plan. Our counseling staff is wonderful to talk to. We have many events throughout the year, like the Finding Community Welcome, which will introduce students to campus and help figure out ways to get involved in our various communities.
Q: What is the value of UA traditions, and which do you especially appreciate?
A: I love some of the small things, like the shaking of the keys at kickoff at a football games, and I love Homecoming parades. My little boys love to go to it, I think mostly because people on floats throw candy at them. But I love the energy of that. And I love how the whole community comes together to move students into the residence halls. I am particularly excited about that because my partner's oldest son will be moving in a residence hall, so I will get a chance to not only be a leader on campus but also to be a parent and start to see things through a different set of eyes. When I think about all of the traditions, they’re really about building a friendly positive community. It’s the wonderful shared experience students have. Traditions are the things that when alumni come back for homecoming they remember. They remember being helped into the residence halls sometimes those are some of the key experiences that stick with students throughout their lives.
Q: The UA has more than 600 student organizations, new learning resources are being introduced and events like the Finding Community Welcome and Family Weekend are forthcoming. Why are these resources important?
A: We are working to make sure that students engage and connect. We know that when students are engaged in at least one activity outside of school in a meaningful way – whether it be a general or Greek affiliated organization, service work or athletics – they do better academically, they are retained sophomore year and, at a greater level, graduate faster than peers who said they weren’t right away. So we are very much intentional in getting students connected right away. One of the things I love so much about the University of Arizona and I think defines us is that we defy the expectations of a large university and that we really do have lots of activities and opportunities for students that make this large place really small, really personal really quickly.
Q: Can you share something memorable about your undergraduate experience and how that has informed your personal and professional life?
A: I’m in a career that is all about promoting student engagement and student success. But, as an undergraduate, I engaged probably too heavily in the out-of-class experiences for my academic well being. There can be too much of a good thing. I didn’t always make the grades that I wanted or that my parents wanted to see me achieve because of the out-of-class experiences. I was the editor of the college newspaper, the officer in my fraternity, I was a resident assistant – a host of things that took up a lot of time. I would say to students: Make sure you work to keep everything in balance because you are here to do so many things, and to do all of those things well.