A Striving Beach: 1

Let’s reflect on what we do every day at The Beach to enhance the success of our community. A shared commitment to build a healthy campus environment is our best strategy for optimizing our potential as individuals and as a university. Each staff and faculty member, student, and administrator contributes to this environment by nurturing the academic, social, physical, and spiritual aspirations of everyone.

At the Beach it’s easy to imagine a pyramid! The pyramid I want to explore with you represents levels of services available to support the success of all students.

Universal services and interpersonal interactions are the foundation of our pyramid. These are available to all. For example, we educate students to be critical thinkers and concerned citizens who accept the need to be skeptical, but engaged members of their communities. A great education is a universal service that allows students to apply previously acquired knowledge, skills and understanding to new learning, and predicts enhanced employment, health, relationship, and civic outcomes.

Within the universal, we personalize educational experiences by supporting student organizations that reflect particular scholarly or social justice passions (e.g., French or sustainability) or affinity groups (e.g., athletics, cultural and political organizations, and e-sports). These affinity groups facilitate friendships, promote collaborative engagement, and cultivate problem solving.

Our excellent advisors provide a universal level of service by assisting all students in making the most of their time at The Beach. And our fabulous faculty also personalize education through, for example, long-term active learning assignments, internships, service learning, electronic enhancements, and research mentorship—pedagogies that enable students to deepen learning through experience in multiple contexts.

Student Health Services offers immunizations and other preventive services, and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center provides education critical to developing healthy eating, exercise, and mindfulness habits. Wellness skills are reinforced in experiences that promote growth mindsets, which are so important for persisting in challenging environments.

We have a vibrant and creative community of learners who earned their place at The Beach through a highly competitive application process. Some students, however, may face challenges that could impact their ability to get the most out of their education.

That is why, in addition to these foundational universal strategies to enhance success, we offer targeted services. We know from research and personal testimonies that an equitable environment offers targeted services to students seeking additional support. These community members are most successful when their particular contexts or histories factor into our outreach to them through classroom accommodations, learning communities, creation of ally groups, financial aid, emergency services, legal education, and tutoring, to name just a few of our many targeted interventions that I will expand on in future messages. These targeted services make up the second level of our pyramid.

Faculty, staff and tutors provide one-on-one or small group mentoring to assist students struggling with rigorous academic material or who need special career advice. Additional resources are available from advisors, the Career Development Center, and our Multicultural Center—again to name just a few.

Other members of our community arrive with or develop challenges that require more specialized treatment. We offer health and mental health services through Student Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for students who require treatment to reduce threats to their academic and personal success. Specialized treatment is at the top level of the pyramid and can be quite expensive and labor intensive.

There is significant research about how to enhance population well being. We will never have the resources to offer specialized treatment to every member of the community with a need, but robust universal and targeted services can mitigate the adverse effects of demanding academic and social environments and/or challenging personal histories. These levels of service are also buffers against societal pressures associated with poverty, injustice, alienation, and materialism.

We are resource rich but it is difficult to stay aware of all the opportunities on campus, so over the next few weeks I will outline what we have to offer and share my thoughts on how to foster well being at The Beach. I’d also like to hear from you about how to connect our community to available services and identify gaps in what we do. I am looking for innovative ways to improve the visibility and the viability of our universal, targeted, and specialized services.

Together we can build the greatest place to live, learn, play, sing, dance, jump, glide, run, and work in the nation. Why settle?

My next installment of A Striving Beach will explore with greater specificity how we are all responsible for creating nurturing universal services and interactions. In the meantime, please send me your comments.

Go Beach!