With over 25,000 students enrolled, Wayne State University is tasked with managing their organization administrative processes as efficiently as possible to ensure their staff has plenty of time to focus on creating opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and build a sense of belonging on campus. As the campus’ primary Engage administrator, Heather Marks oversees this vision on by strategically prioritizing the roll out of Engage features after the campus migrated from OrgSync in 2018.
Wayne State University
There are so many different aspects of Engage you leverage today. As an administrator, how do you identify and prioritize projects in Engage? What are some of the projects you have tackled that have had the most exciting consequences for your students?
At Wayne State, the students’ needs are always the priority when we identify projects. The previous system for organization management was not working out for us and was difficult for the students to use, making registration our first priority. Since transitioning to Campus Labs, our registered student organization numbers went from just under 300 to over 500 in the span of three years. We took the rapid growth as a successful sign of an easy to understand process: more organizations were incentivized to register themselves, rather than operating under the radar because they didn’t want to deal with a clunky system.
Next came our event reservation process. What had started as a paper form that was roughly adapted to a digital form was revised into an event reservation process that sped up the response time and cut down 75% of our front office staff work – leaving them more time to focus on helping our student organizations in other ways.
After those two projects were completed, we wanted to bring training materials to our students so they could better understand the Engage tools available to them, at any time. We created the ‘Engagement Navigators,’ a series of brief student-created and student-recorded training sessions available on YouTube and our Dean of Students Office website.
A recent pillar of your work on Engage has been related to campus elections. Why is this work important to you and what you have accomplished with the Engage elections tool so far?
Part of my responsibilities include overseeing our Student Senate elections each spring. After migrating to Engage, I approached the Computing and Information Technology (C&IT) staff member who built the existing election system to make sure the tool would meet our needs. He quickly told me “yes” and asked if we could adopt the tool across campus, as C&IT was already in talks of retiring the outdated in-house system. He and I worked together to develop a process allowing campus units the ability to manage their own elections and connect with me for advanced features when needed. With the adoption of the election tool, we have had five successful unit elections, one student organization election that used multiple eligibility lists and the last two years of Student Senate elections have received record breaking numbers of voter participation.
Wayne State is considered one of the most engaged campuses within our community of 700+ student engagement institutions. Tell us more about how you engage with other institutions and what value it has given you so far.
Working with other institutions has given us the opportunity to expand and go beyond our initial goals (organization registration and event reservation). Our first collaborations happened while revising our event process. We looked at the reservation processes of multiple institutions of a similar size and setup to ours. We also looked to other institutions while developing our first Paths programs this past year. We launched in September after many Campus Labs webinars and conversations with peers at and after Connect 2019.
The collaboration I am most excited about is projected to happen this spring (2020). We are planning a roundtable-style conference that will bring Michigan-area Engage institutions together to discuss best practices, success stories and involvement challenges. I have been in conversations with a few other Michigan peers at Connect the last few years and I am thrilled that we’re finally making it happen.
Our sincere thanks to Heather Marks for sharing her experiences with us. If you’d like your campus to be showcased, reach out to your consultant.