A Letter from the Vice President of Student Affairs
During my years of formal higher education, I was personally active in many activities outside the classroom and feel these powerful “social connections” helped me to succeed academically and now in my life and role as a Dean of Students. However, in recent years, it has become more and more evident that today’s higher education landscape often negates the positive power of student involvement, and ignores the need to address a proper balance between “social” and “academic” education, and there is a widely held assumption that being involved in student clubs or organizations may distract students from serious studying. Despite the call for the merging of academic and co-curricular life and mounting evidence indicating the contributions of student involvement to overall psychological development and cognitive development, co-curricular involvement is often considered unnecessary or secondary to academic pursuits.
During my many years as a Student Services professional, I have often wondered why many undergraduates feel they are making the most of their years in college yet others are less positive about their experiences. What is the difference? I believe students who view their time in college as productive and positive are almost always those who are involved and connected outside of the classroom. This type of involvement must be significant and can occur in any number of meaningful ways including: joining a club or organization, playing intramural sports, performing in an organized campus entertainment troupe, serving on a student government committee, volunteering, writing for the school newspaper, or any other type of on-going purposeful social involvement.
I often stand before parents of potential students and boldly state that our institution can offer one of the best educations anywhere because we provide strong connections for students outside of the classroom. If our students choose to take advantage of the opportunity for involvement, it will help them succeed in their post collegiate lives, enter graduate school, or eventually secure full-time employment. In a world filled with advancements in modern technology, daily face-to-face interaction among students is increasingly rare, and during the past few years this question has been the topic of many discussions across our nation. When a mission of any institution of higher learning refers to educating the “whole student” then we cannot ignore the basic human needs to socially belong and contribute as part of that education. I encourage Utah Tech students to explore the links listed on the side bar of this page, and to discover the social opportunities available on campus; to find for themselves what the “Utah Tech Spirit” is all about.
Del W. Beatty, M.Ed.
Vice President of Student Affairs