It’s not an ending, but a beginning within Student Affairs

In May, the Division of Student Life held its annual Collaboration and Partnership Award Event, an opportunity to reflect, celebrate, and show gratitude toward our campus partners and each other, applauding the collaborative work done to support student success throughout the 2018-19 academic year.

Normally, the focus would be primarily on the past year, but as this was the last event with the Division of Student Life as it looks today, there was an opportunity for deeper reflection. It’s public knowledge that a reorganization process is taking place to more fully integrate with the other departments under the Vice Chancellor for Students Affairs this year, and as a result, this division will look different next year while maintaining its focus on UW-Madison students.

Over the course of the division’s over decade-long existence and with the help of past leaders including Dean of Students Lori Berquam, Mary Rouse, and Paul Ginsberg, Associate Dean of Students Kevin Helmkamp, and other student affairs professionals still on campus and some departed, the team has made a lasting impact on campus.

A few divisional highlights include:

There is now an established support system for those experiencing hate and bias incidents and a restorative justice option for those seeking to take responsibility for their behavior. The commitment to social justice has provided services, workshops/trainings, and spaces that are welcoming and inclusive to all students. The team also helped push forward the campus preferred name policy, expanded gender neutral bathrooms, and advocated for health care for those transitioning.

The group implemented a campus leadership framework, an inclusion education program for all new students through Our Wisconsin, a Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN) for registered student organizations, and a reformulated Wisconsin Experience along with a course for incoming students.

Also, a combination of technology and personalization have transformed orientation (SOAR) and administrative systems and processes in departments like the McBurney Disability Resource Center, International Student Services, and Center for the First-Year Experience. Multiple student cultural centers have also been established to build community for our students.

While these are only a few of the many accomplishments that make up the division’s legacy, all of it was achieved together, with student success at the forefront of the work.

The May event celebrated our incredible partners, staff, and student leaders with awards and recognition from the 2018-19 academic year:

Now on the verge of the next evolution as a division, one which will ultimately benefit our students, we collectively bid farewell to the academic year, and to the Division of Student Life as it looks now. Looking to the future, our impact on students will be even greater with our new partners within Student Affairs. We have an opportunity to touch more student lives, and we see this time as not an ending, but a beginning with our colleagues from Recreational Sports, University Health Services, and the Wisconsin Union.

Interim Argyle Wade concluded the event:

“To all of you in the Division of Student Life: I’ve been honored to serve as your interim dean of students this past year. That honor wasn’t connected to the title, but because I had the chance to represent such an impressive group of people. You made that part of my job easy. Thanks to those who encouraged me this year: Whether it was an email, note, tweet, or pat on the back, you were lifelines that kept me going.  Thank you for all you do for our students and as always, On, Wisconsin!”

– Argyle Wade, Interim Dean of Students, 2018-19