University Life to be more integrated with academic affairs

International Week at Mason is one of the many events put on by University Life. (Photo courtesy of Jake McLernon)
International Week at Mason is one of the many events put on by University Life. (Photo courtesy of Jake McLernon)

After a decision by George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera, University Life will now report to the provost of the university, instead of the president’s office.

University Life will continue to supervise a variety of student services such as housing, career services and student government. It is in charge of the organizations that are meant to improve and guide a student’s experience at the university.  

“One critical role that [University Life] plays on campus is to develop programming for students  -- co-curricular, extracurricular, socioacademic programs designed to help students make connections between in-class learning and practical application,” Rose Pascarell, interim Vice President of University Life, said in an email. “The opportunities to more intentionally connect with faculty and departments through the provost will be greater.”

Pascarell said that this could mean a professor will be able to better engage a student in the material taught in class or with classmates.  

“…Faculty wrestle with a myriad of student engagement issues in the classroom,” Pascarell said, “including engagement with one’s own learning of course material, engagement in class discussions, engagement with other students, etc.”

Pascarell explained that the biggest change to University Life would be the attempt to better integrate academic life and student life.

“If we are really wanting a more integrated experience for students, I believe we can forge greater connections between academic and Student affairs, and we have the opportunity to be partners in these conversations differently because we are all reporting to the provost,” Pascarell said.

Provost Peter Stearns said the annual “International Week” was a good example of how student and academic affairs are integrated. Other examples include activities put on by the Living and Learning Communities and projects to improve student retention. These experiences, said Stearns, help to enhance education outside of the classroom.

“I look forward to further opportunities for coordination, in what is already a fine operation,” Stearns said in an email. “Working together -- academics and student life professionals -- I think we can do even better in capitalizing on opportunities for greater student retention, developing internships and other facets of experiential learning, and other joint ventures.”

Pascarell said that students will not notice University Life’s transition in their day-to-day experiences at Mason.

“The University Life/Student Affairs - Academic Affairs/Provost divisions are artificial to students -- most students don't divide their campus experience into categories -- they have one overall Mason experience,” Pascarell said. “If we are successful, then changing reporting lines should just enhance the student experience.”

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