A campus-wide effort is underway to create a stronger culture of belonging on campus

University relations

The University of Arkansas is building the foundation for campus-wide dialogues, programs and pathways to strengthen the sense of community and culture of belonging on campus.

“We want everyone at the University of Arkansas to feel like they have a place here, and we are laying the groundwork this summer for changes in our processes and programming to help realize that vision,” said Charles Robinson, President and Executive Vice-Chancellor for Studies and Student Affairs. “The concept of belonging goes far beyond any specific office on our campus. It creates and promotes a culture where each member of our university community looks out for one another and actively works to strengthen a sense of belonging to our university.

A committee includes members of student affairs, academic affairs, student success and academic relations, in addition to student representation. He leads the effort, responsible for defining belonging and identifying areas of the student experience that are critical to creating a sense of belonging.

The committee will be engaging in campus conversations throughout the fall to gather perspectives on belonging and community that will be used to inform an action plan to strengthen a sense of belonging on campus.

The committee applies Appreciative Inquiry to its Exploration of Belonging, an organizational self-assessment technique focused on the process of defining, discovering, dreaming, conceiving and destiny / delivery that helps create a shared vision for the future that engages others in strategic innovation.

“Appreciative inquiry is a coordinated approach that provides a methodology that is theoretically sound, field-tested and flexible enough to be thoughtful, introspective and collaborative in creating organizational change,” said Lori Lander, deputy vice-chancellor for campus life and co-chair of the Committee. “With this focus on life, the hope is that through intentional and open conversations, we can harness positive emotions to increase the coherence and energy that create a sense of belonging for all of us.”

“This is the time of daring that can create lasting transformational change while putting our students at the center of what we do,” said Anthony DiNicola, Inclusion Liaison and Committee Co-Chair. “This is an ongoing exploration and conversation that will continue well beyond this summer, and we look forward to further involving our campus community in this effort.”

While the committee will engage in conversations on campus in the fall semester, committee members will also be holding Dialogue Circles over the summer for those who wish to provide feedback. To participate or to learn more about campus membership efforts, contact Lander at [email protected] or DiNicola at [email protected]

Committee members include:

  • Anthony DiNicola, Inclusion Liaison Officer (committee co-chair)
  • Lori Lander, Associate Dean of Students (Committee Co-Chair)
  • Erin Butler, Chief of Staff, Student Affairs Division (Member of the Steering Committee)
  • EmmaLe Davis, Director of Evaluation in the Student Affairs Division (member of the steering committee)
  • Scott Flanagin, Executive Director of Communications, Student Affairs Division (Member of the Steering Committee)
  • John Post, Director of Academic Communications (Member of the Steering Committee)
  • Fernanda Alcantara, President of University Programs
  • Aubrey Cala, Deputy Director of Greek Life
  • Francesca DAgrosa, Deputy Director for Off Campus Connections
  • AnReckez Daniels, academic advisor for the Multicultural Center
  • Cecilee Ann Essary, Student Leadership Coordinator for University Housing
  • Adrienne Gaines, Assistant Director of Student Services at the College of Engineering
  • Emery Gower, Wellness Specialist and Director of Substance Education and Alcohol Resources for Pat Walker Health Center
  • Rafael Gutierrez, Deputy Director for Transfer Students and Equity and Inclusion Initiatives for the Student Success Center
  • Rae-Marie Hoops, Access Coordinator for the Center for Educational Access
  • Mike Hoover, Assistant Director of Academic Recreation Assessment
  • Amy Schlesing, Executive Director of Strategic Communications for University Relations
  • Mary Skinner, Director of Student Activities
  • Kathy Sloan, Vice-President, Faculty Affairs
  • Quincy Spencer, Director of New Student and Family Programs
  • Angela Williams, Director of Career Services

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