Black and Gold Committee
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UWM Black and Gold Committee

Investing in UWM's Students
UWM's Black and Gold Commission
From Planning to Action
June, 2003

        Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

Two years ago, I visited with about 20 classes and student groups across campus. It became clear to me that it was time for a concerted, campus-wide discussion on how we continue to improve the student experience at UWM. We formed the Black and Gold Commission and asked the 12 faculty and staff and the 12 students on that group to take the 2001-02 academic year to thoroughly research the UWM student experience and to "set the table" for our work over the next few years to ensure that UWM's growth as a premier urban research university is lead by our focus on students.

We're here today to provide an update on how the recommendations from the Black and Gold Commission have evolved to a myriad of actions across campus. And describing these activities will be 8 students who are part of the over 130 students engaged in the work of Black and Gold Committees across the campus.

I'm delighted to start us out by introducing the student and faculty cochairs of the 2001-02 UWM Black and Gold Commission: Isaac Monteagudo, a junior in Business, and Carol Haertlein, Professor of Occupational Therapy.

The Work of the 2001-02 Black and Gold Commission
         Isaac Monteagudo, Junior, Business
         Co-chair of the Commission

The UWM Black & Gold Commission was formed in 2001 by Chancellor Zimpher to come up with creative ways to improve the quality of the student experience at UWM.

The commission, which was a partnership between faculty- such as Carol Haertlein- students, and staff, looked at retention and other data, and took special care to listen to the people of UWM. We held townhall meetings, conducted surveys,-and ultimately, produced a series of recommendations which are outlined in the yellow handout you have before you.

To give you an idea of the work done, one of the recommendations was forming a "one-stop shop" -type Student Success Center.  Another idea was to strengthen UWM's existing First Year Experience program while working to improve student success in bottleneck courses.

Today, UWM continues to focus on student success in a variety of ways. Amanda Snyder, a graduate student in Communication and a member of the UWM Black and Gold Steering Committee will tell you more about the ongoing work.

The Work of the Current (2002-03) Black and Gold Committees

Amanda Snyder, Graduate Student, Communication
Member of the UWM Black and Gold Steering Committee and the College of Letters and Science Black and Gold Committee

A primary recommendation of the Black and Gold Commission was to establish what they called focus on students committees in each school and one for the university.  These committees are now in place, and to describe what's going on in three of our schools are:

Ananth Chiravuri from the School of Business Administration
Neil Grove from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning
Rose Billingsley from the School of Nursing

Illustrations of Black and Gold activities in the:

School of Business
         Ananth Chiravuri, Doctoral Candidate, Business

The Black and gold committee at the School of Business met last November and decided on 6 areas of importance.  These included class room instruction, student services and communication.  We have taken many initiatives in these areas and are in the process of implementing many more in the future.  Today, I will talk very briefly about a few of them.

One of our first initiatives last semester was to conduct surveys of both undergraduates and graduates in order to confirm the areas of priority.  The results did validate our initial planning.  In particular, several initiatives were implemented towards enhancing classroom instruction as it was the highest priority for both undergraduates and graduates.  

Last spring, Teaching Assistants were given mid term evaluations by their students so that they could adapt and enhance their teaching to the students before the semester concluded.  In addition, the teaching working group conducted professional development seminars for faculty, staff and teaching assistants in order to enhance their skills.

This summer, the School of Business is introducing a new career and development course for undergraduates with an objective of teaching them valuable skills such as creating a resume, preparing for interviews and effective networking.  

We are also implementing 2 novel initiatives next semester.  The first initiative is the implementation of a block scheduling program for freshmen.  This is being done with the cooperation of the College of Letters and Science.  Initially, 90 freshmen would be grouped together as cohorts for 2 courses.  We expect this program to enhance the learning of students and enrich their experiences because research has shown that studying as cohorts does lead to such advantages.  The second initiative is the implementation of a major orientation program for students after their sophomore year.  The objective of this program, which would be done for accounting and HRM, is to guide students early towards their chosen careers instead of waiting until their senior year.

These are just some of the initiatives of continuous improvement that we have undertaken since last semester to enhance the students experience.

We thank all involved for their support and look forward to your continued support in the future. Thank you.

School of Architecture and Urban Planning
         Neil Grove, Junior, Architecture

The strategy of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning can be broken down into "four areas of concentration:"

First, we sought to get the word out to faculty and students about the Black and Gold Committee.  This was accomplished through:

a) implementing a website, linked to the SARUP home page
b) posting flyers around the building
c) emailing SARUP students about recommendations and actions

These forms of dispersing information allowed for the door of communication between faculty, students and the Black and Gold Committee to open.  It also allowed for a flow of current and reliable information, minimizing rumors.

Second, issues of Building Maintenance within the School or Architecture and Urban Planning were a common complaint among faculty and students.

a) A meeting was held with the quadrant supervisor of custodial staff, and a new cleaning plan for the Fall of 2003 will be implemented.

b) first aid boxes have been installed in strategic locations, and signs have been placed in every room detailing the location of these boxes.

Third, a letter is to be sent to all graduating seniors by Dean Bob Greenstreet in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, asking ways to enhance the student experience at UWM and the School or Architecture and Urban Planning.

Lastly, a "town hall meeting" was called inviting all students and faculty from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, which was the first meeting of its kind in several years.  This allowed for an open forum for students and faculty to ask questions and raise concerns.  Most of these concerns related to changes within the school, budget cut concerns, and building cleanliness.

School of Nursing
         Rose Billingsley, Senior, Nursing

The School of Nursing Black and Gold Committee commenced in the spring of 2003.  The first priority of the School of Nursing's Black and Gold Committee was to uncover the concerns of nursing students.  Surveys were distributed to nursing students in all levels of the nursing program.  Some of the top priorities of these students were scheduling of classes in the nursing major, financial concerns, and updated labs and technology.  In the fall, the Black and Gold Committee plans to reconvene to discuss these concerns further.  The School of Nursing's Black and Gold Committee comprised of faculty and students will collaborate to address the students' concerns.

Illustrations of campus-wide Black and Gold activities

        Student Success Center
            Amanda Snyder, Master's Candidate, Communication

In addition to the great work being done in the schools and colleges, we have university wide action teams in place. 

One such team is the Student Success Center.  The commission recommended the creation of a "one-stop" campus center where no student is ever more than two clicks, two calls or two people away from the answers to their questions regarding UWM. 

The Student Success Center action team is moving forward with several recommendations to create effective "quick wins" on campus.  These recommendations include:

  • Creating a virtual Student Success Center or website
    • An online survey distributed by the Student Success Center action team produced 879 student responses regarding what they would like to see on this virtual Student Success Center website.  These responses will serve to guide the action team in choosing the contents of the website
    • Among many other requests, students asked for UWM specific weather, a more effective search engine, and a scroll bar announcing up to date events, news, and deadlines

  • We'd also like to Post a universal symbol or icon at each student services office to help students identify a link between these locations
  • We plan to establish best practices in customer service and disseminate these practices throughout all student service offices
  • In addition to this, every office on campus will be supplied with a customer satisfaction box, complete with student services icon and feedback cards
  • "You Are Here" maps are to placed throughout campus to help new students with directions
  • Teams of Student Success cohorts will be created and led by student ambassadors who would be responsible for communicating accurate information to peers
  • Finally, the Student Success Center plans to provide real-time web based group advising sessions, which would give students a chance to receive academic advising online

The Student Success Center action team is also generating intermediate and long-range plans for a physical space that would house this student hub.  Intermediate plans include occupying a central and visible office space on campus.  Long-range plans include building, acquiring, or remodeling a building that would house the Student Success Center. 

Spirit Commission/PantherPride
        Kory Kozloski, Junior, Pre-Law
        President, UWM Student Association

Student Leadership and SA
         Tony Rodriguez, Junior, Political Science
        Vice President, UWM Student Association

With the developments that have come from the Black and Gold Commission of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the progression of the Student Association is ensured.  With a new Student Association Administration having been elected, we have the honor of not only representing our students at the local, state and national level, but working with the Black and Gold Commission to provide our students with stronger leadership trainings, providing more support for programming and event planning and implementing, an over all increase of school pride. 

As the 2003-2004 Vice President of the Student Association, I stand affirmed that the recently appointed Presidential Cabinet and Student Senators will embrace the Black and Gold Commission in our endeavors to better suit the needs of our students.  Our Bringing SA to You campaign is rooted in the ideals of the Black and Gold Commission and with this dedication and commitment; our leaders will not only benefit our students, but our surrounding Milwaukee community.