Back in the fall of 2005, I sat down with a small group of LIM College students and asked them to do three things: name something they liked about LIM, name something they didn’t like, and suggest a change the College should make.
Thus, the “President’s Student Forums” were born. These focus group sessions are now held three to four times every semester, with one forum each semester geared specifically to graduate students. President’s Student Forums generally take place during the common lunch period and last anywhere from an hour to an hour and 20 minutes.
Ten to 20 students attend each forum. The Office of Student Life invites those who fit criteria for the topic under discussion (e.g. Visual Merchandising majors, sophomores, transfer students, etc.) to sign up online. Participants receive a $25 gift card in appreciation of their time.
Typically, forums are moderated by the administrator responsible for overseeing the department the subject matter falls under. Members of the President’s Cabinet are also invited to attend, as are faculty and staff members who work in areas relevant to the forum topic.
This program is extremely valuable. It gives me a chance to get to know our students better while learning their thoughts and feelings about various College programs and services. The small-group environment is conducive to open, honest discussion.
Over the years, President’s Student Forums have covered a wide range of topics—including, but not limited to, technology, financial aid, community service, residence life, academic rigor, and experiential education. We’ve made a number of enhancements as a result of the feedback we’ve obtained, including adding inter-office phones in common areas—to facilitate students’ communication with administrative offices in various campus buildings—and expanding the use of social media to promote academic resources.
President’s Student Forums allow us to get a better handle on the pulse of the College and learn what’s working and what’s not. Students feel empowered when they are able to express their opinions directly to senior administrators. We are here to make our students’ educational experience the best it can be, so it is critical they have a voice in that process.