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Baker Report: The importance of making connections

August 8, 2014

Doug BakerAs students prepare to arrive on campus for the first time or return to NIU for another year, I want to touch on the importance of making connections with our students.

Earlier this week, I invited all NIU employees to an Aug. 20 town hall meeting to talk specifically about “Welcome Days” and the things we are doing to make our campus a better place for our students to live and learn. This event is part of an overall initiative for enhancing our dialogue with our faculty and staff throughout the school year, and will enable them to ask questions and raise issues that are on their minds. While the meeting will detail welcoming activities for both students and their parents, this sense of welcoming and inclusion should not be limited to just the first couple weeks of the academic year – it is really part of who we are as Huskies.

A recent Purdue-Gallup study found that students are three times as likely to thrive if they connect with someone on campus who stimulates their thinking, cares about them and encourages their aspirations for the future.

NIU students should expect a rewarding experience tailored to individual needs, desires and talents and in line with their long-term objectives. Getting to know our students through mentorship and other daily interactions creates bonds that allow us to provide this type of engagement. It also has a positive impact on retention and ultimately graduation and student career success. And isn’t that what we’re all here for?

Attaining a college degree – even with its associated costs – will most likely lead to a rewarding, healthy life in the long run when students feel embraced by the university community and truly engaged. This is why we are focused on making what is a large university with a large breadth of resources feel more like a small college. Welcome Days is key to beginning this engagement process. We look forward to welcoming our students on campus and really rolling out the red carpet for them.

Forward together,