Workgroup to release survey on student services

Abbey Whittington, Associate News Editor

Workgroup No. 1, focused on student services, discussed the budget for student services and how to make programs more efficient at their meeting Thursday.

Heidi Hawkins, assistant university budget officer, and math professor Peter Andrews focused on analyzing the budget for student services.

Andrews said when he looked at the budget it looks like the services are losing and hemorrhaging money that would be appropriated by student and general funds.

“The trends are pretty consistent. I think the management has been good. Those that traditionally lose money are losing less money and ones you would hope break even are breaking even to small profits,” Andrews said. “Those that usually make profits are making slightly more money now.”

Andrews said the decrease in revenues seems to be because less services are needed since there are less students.

Hawkins said in her findings she looks at the decreases as appropriations rather than losing money because for the most part the departments are still within the means of the budget they were given.

“The departments have been managing their funds as well as to be expected,” Hawkins said. “Trying to avoid overspending, there are few areas that are struggling, but a lot of that mainly appears to be due to lower enrollment because they are student free driven.”

Workgroup chair Rick Roberts, chair of the counseling and student development department, said most of the student service committees he has interviewed said they are already working on reorganizing efficiencies.

Roberts said the second thing he thought was interesting from his interviews was how much the student services fill a part of “Eastern’s DNA,” and what makes Eastern unique is the student affairs and student services place in the role of recruiting and retention of students.

Eric Davidson, interim director of Health Service, has been interviewing the student services not under student affairs.

He said a reoccurring theme he found from his meetings is that student demographics are changing.

“There is a real need to continue focusing on special populations, diverse groups, those types of things,” Davidson said. “As we continue to have a more diverse student population if we cater to those needs and meet those needs that in turn could be used as a marketing and retention tool.”

Davidson said one of the other topics that seems to keep coming up is the needs of Eastern students today are different than the needs of students 10 years ago.

He said whether the services provide preparation academically, socially, emotionally or physically, there is a need for broader and deeper coverage in areas that will require specialization.

“One of the needs that clearly was stressed was the idea and the concept of financial literacy,” Davidson said. “Students are leaving the institution with great debt; they’re not able to really manage their money effectively and that is one of our greatest needs in terms of retention.”

Davidson said centralizing services like tutoring could help save money and the efficiencies might improve the quality of student services.

“A lot of the student services in many ways directly connect with the outcomes we have in our institutional mission statement,” Davidson said.

English professor Angela Vietto said Eastern is providing services similar to other institutions at a lower cost.

Hugo Escobar and Kallee Peebles-Tomes, student members of the workgroup, have been asking students questions about services on campus.

They each had five questions to ask five different students.

Some of the questions Escobar asked are which services students think are the most appealing to incoming students, how they feel about the faculty or staff that worked to help bring them the services, and how often on a weekly basis the students have used these services.

Escobar said many students showed most concern for the low amount of Building Service Workers because they have noticed the trash overflowing in garbage cans around campus.

The group plans to send out the survey through email as well as on Eastern’s Facebook page.

 

Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]