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The Disconnect Between Students and Staff at NDNU By Cynthia Rinaldo

Operating as a private Catholic institution allows Notre Dame de Namur University to offer certain social needs students may not receive in a public-school system, but does it fulfill their student connections?

Every week at NDNU students receive various emails from the NDNU staff revolving around emergency matters, news about the campus, and newsletters with events and personal stories. NDNU staff spends a lot of time on these e-mails hoping that they can make a difference on campus, but are they really concerned with knowing if the students have actually read them or not? Do students feel like they have a connection with the staff and that their voices are being heard?

Fabiola Malfabon, a senior communications student said, “I only read the NDNU newsletters sometimes if they catch my attention, but if it is just news it does not really interest me. When there are cool pictures or fonts I am more interested in reading them.”

Malfabon did not check her NDNU student email, where newsletters are sent, until her senior year. “Since it is my senior year I wanted to be more on top of my work and that led me to read the newsletters and NDNU emails.”

Grace Kim the Assessment and Outreach Librarian in the Gellert Library observes and researches ways to better communicate with NDNU students, “I create surveys for students so that they can give feedback on ways we can improve our services or if there is anything they would like to see in the library that we do not already provide. I send the surveys out to Zack from the Marketing Department so he can put them into the NDNU newsletters.”

Although Kim, researches the best ways to effectively reach out to students by having student workers take her surveys, and John Hofmann, the Institutional Research and Assessment Director to asses her work, the feedback she receives after the surveys are put on the newsletters is minimal. “I do feel like the library staff is making a difference but at the same time the survey response rate is 20% which I heard is normal but I would like it to be at least 80%. It would help us if students could reach out and tell us what we can improve on. I want students to know that just because we are not reaching all of the them; it does not mean the library is not doing their part,” said Kim.

“I feel that the most valuable engagement I get with students is when they come up to me and ask me questions at the Reference Desk,” said Kim.

According to a Peterson’s, private universities offer smaller class sizes and easier access to professors, which can be beneficial to a student’s educational experience. As mentioned on the NDNU website in Hallmarks of a Notre Dame de Namur Learning Community, “We actively support the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, psychological and social growth of the members of our learning community.”

Carrie McKnight the Director of Career Services, said “I help students with career planning, internships, programs, and set up events on campus. Students have mentioned that they would like to see more connections with big employers like Facebook and Google. Since we are a small school it is sometimes hard to make contacts with big corporations.”

McKnight would like to notify students that, “We are here, Career Services is open to students who want to plan their future and Sr. Dorothy Stang Center is open for students when they need someone to talk to about concerns on campus.”

Although NDNU is a small private school in Belmont, McKnight believes we can take advantage of the size to reach out to students more effectively.

“I think that we are a small enough school to have students have their voices heard. It also depends on how active the students are,” said McKnight.

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