A farewell to student affairs

A photo of Weber State University president, Brad Mortensen. Taken Dec. 2018.

A town hall meeting was held on Feb. 14 over Zoom to present Weber State University’s new “Aligning to Amplify” plan. As presented by WSU President Brad Mortensen, this plan aims to promote collaboration between Academic Affairs and the soon-to-be-renamed Student Affairs.

Through this plan, the administration hopes to help students navigate WSU resources on campus and online more efficiently, therefore increasing student retention.

“I’m really committed to pushing forward to have Weber State be a place where students — no matter their income, their race, their ethnicity, their backgrounds — they have the same opportunity for access to our programs and be successful in our programs,” Mortensen said.

Aligning to Amplify responds to data trends showing a steady decline in Weber State enrollment, despite high participation in concurrent enrollment programs. The plan also focuses on the high number of students who attend some college, but do not attain a degree.

Data presented at the meeting also showed predictions that as high school graduate numbers decrease throughout the next decade, colleges will be dealing with more intense competition than ever before.

With these trends and predictions in mind, Aligning to Amplify will reorganize divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. As part of this reorganization, the Student Affairs department will be renamed and a new position will be created for the update.

This reorganization is also designed to promote collaboration between the departments, such as more direct reporting between them.

As the plan is executed, the administration will continue to assess current efforts.
Following the update of Student Affairs, Student Success coaches plan to be introduced to the students of Weber State. These coaches will focus on helping students to navigate Weber’s non-academic resources such as the food pantry, housing, FAFSA resources and more.

A survey was conducted among students, faculty and staff concerning the renaming of the Student Affairs department. Overall, the most popular option across the populations surveyed was changing the name to Student Access and Success. The final decision, however, will fall on Mortensen.

Execution for Aligning to Amplify is expected to begin in July, starting with budgets and position adjustments, as well as the posting of the new division’s vice president position.

“I think, overall, the challenge is that change is hard,” Mortensen said. “I can understand that this does introduce some ambiguity and some uncertainty … and to me, that’s really the biggest challenge. By being able to try to adapt and move forward, but knowing at the same time that we may need to adapt again, to have that open conversation and try to find the best way to move forward together is something that I’m very committed to.”