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Alignment to provide greater opportunity, support for students

Two areas in the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) – Leadership and Engagement (LE) and Well-Being and Basic Needs – have reorganized to better serve the needs of University of Iowa students and support Division of Student Life strategic priorities.

The department of Leadership and Engagement includes the programs and units of Fraternity and Sorority Life Programs (FSL), Leadership, Service, and Civic Engagement (LSCE), and Student Engagement and Campus Programs (SECP). Jamarco Clark will continue to provide leadership to these areas and has been promoted to assistant dean. Jamarco will direct initiatives and develop connections in these units and other DOS units that support alignment with the UI and Division of Student Life strategic plans. In addition, Jamarco will steer additional programs and projects including oversight and advising of the Dean of Students Advisory Board, facilitating the Bridging Our World flag display, managing student award and recognition programs, overseeing the Vice President for Student Life/Undergraduate Student Government priorities funding, and expanding the Division’s work, started this past year, around difficult dialogues, with a particular focus on partnering with academics and the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Leadership and Engagement programs help students develop lifelong leadership skills, offer incredible experiential service-learning, and provide civic engagement opportunities to students both on and off-campus.

Student well-being has been an on-going focus through the Division of Student Life’s strategic priorities as it is a critical component leading to student success. To continue to advance our efforts, Student Wellness, Student Care and Assistance, Student Legal Services, Off-Campus Housing Student Support, Harm Reduction, Food Pantry, and Clothing Closet have been aligned as Well-Being and Basic Needs, which will be led by assistant dean Tanya Villhauer. Steph Beecher, formerly with Student Wellness, and Moni Marcelo, formerly with Residence Education, also recently joined the Dean of Students team. Steph is supporting the Food Pantry, Clothing Closet, and basic needs within Student Care and Assistance. Moni is serving as a Threat Intake Consultant and Student Case Manager representing the Dean of Students on the Threat Assessment Team and liaising with Student Care and Assistance, Student Accountability, and the Threat Assessment Program.

The alignment of these units, the expertise of the staff members, and the important work they do provide the foundation for reaching our goal and meeting the Division of Student Life strategic priority related to student well-being. The collaboration and coordination of these units are crucial to achieving the vision and goals for our students and campus community. By aligning well-being and basic needs services, students are able to more quickly and easily find the resources that they need.

The unique expertise of the staff members across units and their important work directly supports the well-being strategic priority in the Division of Student Life Strategic Plan.

This unit was borne of discussions regarding a well-being model and initiative which began in 2018. The Well-Being Collaborative Work Group, charged by Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen, has been meeting over the past year to develop a campus-wide initiative that advances, encourages and supports a culture of well-being at the University of Iowa. The goal is for the University of Iowa to become a U.S. Health and Well-being Promoting Campus (USHPC) – one that addresses basic needs, fosters a sense of belonging, and cultivates a campus culture of compassion that strives to provide an overall feeling of support by and for our students, faculty and staff.

This definition is based on a vision from the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting University and Colleges – to transform the health and sustainability of our current and future societies, strengthen communities and contribute to the well-being of people, places and the planet. The Charter provides institutions with a framework, common vision, language, principles, and calls to action to become health and well-being promoting campuses.

In May, information was shared about a proposal to construct a building that would serve as a new home to services including University Counseling Service, Student Health, and Student Wellness. In the coming months, we look forward to sharing more about the well-being initiative and engaging with you to support this foundational element to student success.