While we’re hot on the topic of campus feedback, let’s look at the larger picture of what it means for a post-secondary institution to truly engage and support its entire community. Although there is no denying the importance of student feedback, college and university employees have their own needs and insights, all of which deserve close consideration. Why? The only way to maintain an inclusive and supportive institutional culture for today’s scholars, leaders, learners, and workers is by allowing all of their voices to guide innovation and provoke positive change. A common theme emerges when talking about student engagement in higher education, which is that staff and faculty play a crucial role as facilitators and major sources of support. When placing this type of responsibility on their shoulders, it is important to ensure that they have access to the resources, to not only rise to the occasion, but to do so in an environment that is engaging and conducive to their own well-being. A disengaged workplace is unlikely to set the stage for an engaged student body.
With that said, student feedback has the potential to shine a light on any issues or concerns affecting all campus community members, including those working “behind-the-scenes”. Data collected regarding student use of campus services and program attendance, provides some insight into what’s working, where extra support is needed to meet the demand, and any gaps in service provision. These insights have the potential to open doors for important discussions within and between departments regarding workplace resources, support, and culture. As we know, regular consultation among IT leaders with IT management and staff prompts increased departmental inclusion efforts. Similarly, encouraging department-wide professional development sparks deeper innovation, as well as higher satisfaction and retention rates, all around. Just as these correlations are applicable to other areas of campus, the under-representation of millennials and minority groups is hardly restricted to higher-ed’s tech enthusiasts. The desire for an increasingly diverse and engaged workforce that both reflects and inspires today’s student population must be met with a willingness to actively promote and support such diversity, beginning at the highest level of campus leadership. So, while programs and services are being implemented to assist students as they overcome unique challenges to engagement and success, campus leaders must ask themselves whether they are providing managers, staff, and faculty with the same support and opportunities to thrive. Diversity begets diversity, after all.