By Kim Gordey
Everything from enhanced entrance awards and service standards to new study spaces will greet University of Calgary students this week as they return to campus.
This “extreme makeover,” which began last year, aims to create a student experience at U of C that is unmatched across the country.
The changes are based on student feedback and additional research from across North America, and are focused on increasing support for students, improving student service and expanding student space. Imbedded in all of the improvements is a commitment to rigorous evaluation of their effectiveness.
“The change to the student experience has really touched all aspects of life on campus,” says Sheila O’Brien, special advisor to the president on student life. “The energy and momentum has really let students know that we are not just talking about change—we are creating it. And it is all based on what they said is important.”
The improvements to the U of C student experience begins with a significant injection of money into the automatic admission scholarship program. As of March 2006, high-school students with top grades are now eligible for automatic admission scholarships of up to $1,750 as a result of a $1-million enhancement to the admission scholarship program, with Direct Energy Business Services as the lead sponsor.
But the support doesn’t stop there. The U of C has been aggressively fundraising to create more than $30 million in student scholarships and bursaries for undergraduate and graduate students.
This year, students are seeing the benefits of the largest gift in the university’s history: $25 million from Torontonian Seymour Schulich for 102 scholarships, three academic chairs and discretionary funds for the Schulich School of Engineering.
Long lineups and the first week “run around” used to be an unavoidable element of university life. Not so in the new service environment—online and on campus. A one-stop electronic service for all processes involved in registering will be complimented by one-stop in-person service for more complex student issues.
By the end of this month, more than 20 newly renovated student spaces will opened, included 16 residence lounges, as part of Take Your Place, a 40th anniversary project to increase and improve meeting and study spaces for students across campus. A total of 40 spaces will be opened overall.