Student Affairs

Student Affairs staff making impact in areas of health, safety and wellness


A couple of years ago, leadership within the Division of Student Affairs identified core themes as part of its strategic planning process. Theme identification was part of the division’s ongoing effort to better define its scope in support of the university’s goals as an institution. The four areas that resulted were health, safety and wellness, student learning, inclusive excellence and staff experience.

This past week, colleagues from Student Affairs came together in a new series known as Experience: IMPACT. The interactive series, held in Hendrix Student Center, is designed to bring light on some of the great work being done across the division in support of Clemson students. The first session focused on the areas of health, safety and wellness.

“We wanted to hold these gatherings to celebrate the great work being done across our division,” said Kristin Walker-Donnelly, director of assessment for Student Affairs Business Operations. “Hopefully, these sessions will inspire conversations and ideas to increase the quality, efficiency and relevance of our work.”

After a brief welcome, the floor was turned over to five successive speakers, who were allotted seven minutes to present on a recent project, focusing on challenges, action items and outcomes. Then, each speaker answered questions for three minutes before making way for the next topic.

Reggie Hawthorne of University Housing and Dining
Reggie Hawthorne and his team prepared over 7,500 beds for students living on campus in 2018-19.

Last summer, University Housing & Dining staff faced the challenge of turning over more than 7,500 beds to have them ready for the fall semester. The challenge became even more formidable when considering Clemson held about 130 camps over the summer, with an estimated reach of more than 15,000 guests.

Camps are often overnight and are held throughout the summer months, meaning the impetus for efficiently turning rooms over falls largely on the shoulders of the facilities, maintenance and custodial staffs.

Reggie Hawthorne, who oversees custodial and building support for University Housing & Dining, cited additional challenges such as extended-stay camps, which lead to staff overtime hours, weekend facilities work, contractor delays and short turnover times. His staff prepared to meet the room readiness challenge by establishing clear communication among all stakeholders, through effective pre-planning and proper sign-off protocols.

A streamlined process utilizing available technology systems for sign-offs helped ensure a smooth delivery of services.

“Part of the process is making sure we’re ready if things get missed,” Hawthorne admitted. “Our deadlines give us three to five days prior to students moving in. The sign-off from each group means it is ready for our team, so when the baton is handed off, we’re in good shape.”

Gary Wiser at a Student Affairs function in November 2019
Gary Wiser, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, recently presented on the implementation of Step UP! bystander intervention training at Clemson.

The University of Arizona recently developed a national curriculum for bystander intervention known as Step UP! Its goal is to educate students to be proactive in helping others who may be in need.

Gary Wiser, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, adopted the program training and implemented it in Clemson for the first time in the fall of 2018. His goal and subsequent challenge was to educate about 4,600 fraternity and sorority members — roughly 25 percent of Clemson’s undergraduate population — across 46 different organizations.

The interactive curriculum began with “train the trainer” programs so that staff would be better equipped to use the information effectively and know how to file CARE reports and document incidents through the Office of Community and Ethical Standards, among other things. From there, Fraternity and Sorority Life staff focused on pre-rush education for men affiliated with the Interfraternity Council.

“If they did not receive the education, they would not be eligible to go through the bidding process,” Wiser noted. “Overall, we educated about 3,800 students over the course of 2018-19 and after doing it again with new members this fall, we estimate about 94 percent of our members have gone through Step UP!”

How students perceive their abilities to be active bystanders following the training has increased exponentially. Seventy-seven percent of students surveyed prior to the training said they felt equipped to help in problematic situations. After taking part in the program, that number jumped to 94 percent. The same was true of students feeling equipped to actually intervene, which grew from 84 percent prior to training to 93 percent after it.

Kimberly Poole, associate dean of students, at a recent presentation in November 2019
Kimberly Poole serves as associate dean of students at Clemson.

The dean on-call system was put in place to support students outside of regular business hours. For instance, if a student is transported to a local hospital and Clemson staff has been made aware of it, the dean on-call process is initiated to support his or her transition back to campus and to follow-up with impacted peers and family members as needed.

Because of an increased role managing the response, the Office of Advocacy and Success took on the challenge of identifying additional staff to serve in a dean on-call capacity. More than 100 responses had been documented each of the previous two academic years through the process.

Acknowledging the workload produces a lot of wear and tear on her staff, Associate Dean of Students Kimberly Poole initiated a lean process to review the system for efficiency. What resulted was a new three-tier, dean on-call system unveiled this fall. Action items included the development of new protocols, training of capable staff and an engaged coordination with partners in Student Affairs and beyond.

“It’s all about making sure the students are served, primarily outside of regular work hours,” she said. “As long as we’re made aware, our goal is to follow-up with impacted students in every situation.”

Jenny Rodgers of Campus Recreation at a November 2019 presentation
Jenny Rodgers speaks on the addition of F45 to Swann Fitness Center at Fike.

Campus Recreation wanted to cater to a national trend of boutique fitness studios, while also building community and a place of belonging centered around the idea of fitness.

Enter F45.

This program combining the elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit and functional training in a 45-minute workout has proven to be an effective method for burning fat and building lean muscle.

Over the summer of 2018, Campus Rec brought members of the Clemson University Police and Fire departments together for a 12-week, integrated F45 fitness program complete with bloodwork, BMI assessments and Physimax testing. Students were recruited and trained to serve as entry-level instructors, free from the weight of national accreditation often required.

In the fall of 2018, Swann Fitness Center at Fike welcomed a permanent studio location dedicated for F45.

“A lot of students are used to an Orange Theory Fitness style environment,” said Jenny Rodgers, Campus Rec’s assistant director for fitness and wellness. “By us bringing the boutique style into our facility, it’s helped us break down those barriers. We have the ability to scale a workout up or down to meet the needs of everyone who walks into the room.”

It’s worked, too. More than 450 current members have combined for over 33,000 check-ins in just over a year since its inception at Clemson.

Ric Patton of Aramark during a Student Affairs event in November 2019
Ric Patton addresses colleagues from Student Affairs on recent additions and enhancements to Schilletter Dining Hall.

Schilletter Dining Hall — located on the east side of campus in the Bryan Mall area — is among Clemson’s oldest campus dining locations. Recent additions to the on-campus inventory, such as the Fresh Food Company at McAlister Hall and various fourth-floor options in Douthit Hills, have given students more flexible options than ever for their dining experience.

Schilletter was suffering from an outdated atmosphere, menu monotony and overcrowding. Some stations were suffering from a lack of visibility. That is, until recent renovations that have students speaking quite fondly of the facility.

Aesthetically, the dining hall was adorned with new colors, light fixtures and a revised layout that has allowed for an improved flow of visitors.

“Some of the specific changes have made for a more impactful dining experience overall for our students,” said Liz Sturgis, marketing manager for Clemson dining provider Aramark.

On top of the physical changes, the 2018 updates included a larger pizza station, breakfast-all-day counter and an expanded menu. The changes resulted in glowing reviews, in some cases, including one anonymous student in a recent survey.

“It’s very easy and flexible to make combinations and customizations of different foods for it to be healthy, yet tasty at the same time.”

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