IPFW Improves Campus Community Initiatives with Community Student Portal

IPFW now has a completely web-based software hosted by Symplicity called Community that allows students to manage all aspects of their groups, clubs and organizations. The Office of Student Life and Leadership implemented the software system in August as a way to give students the ability to easily manage their co-curricular activities.

The Office of Student Life and Leadership worked with Symplicity to implement Community in an attempt to streamline the paper-based process that was used in the past for managing student groups.

“The filing system we used before we had Community was a pen and paper process,” Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for student life and leadership, said.

According to Price, this pen and paper process was inconvenient for both staff and self-registering students. Before Community was implemented, students interested in starting a campus organization had to print off the application online, fill it out and return that application to the Office of Student Life and Leadership. The office then stored each student organization application in a paper file. If the student wanted to make changes to that application they had to come back into the office and pull their file to make those changes.

“Community now allows us to digitize those records so that the students can easily manage groups, rosters and activities from within the system,” Price said.

Community also gives students within an organization the ability to find out about events on campus, keep track of event attendance and communicate with other members within the organization.

“Community is really beneficial to the members of the Active Minds group because it helps us plan out our events and lets us grow our member base a lot more than recruiting in person,” Manal Saeed, president of active minds, said in an email. “It also lets our current members know what we’re planning in advance, so they can plan to be there.”

Transitioning to Community also makes it easier for students to generate and manage their co-curricular transcripts. A co-curricular transcript is a university document that complements a student’s official academic transcript. Community offers a co-curricular transcript tool that allows students to document all of their student organization participation, membership, study-abroad experiences, honors, awards, scholarships and any other campus-based services students are involved in and have achieved throughout their time at IPFW.

In addition to being able to easily manage a student organization and co-curricular transcript, Community also offers a feature to help the campus move forward in some of the other campus community initiatives by sending out the student newsletter known as “True Blue.” According to Alex Wulpi, communications assistant in the office of the chancellor, the chancellor’s office decided to use Community as a platform to send out the student newsletter because it offers message tracking capabilities.

“The message tracking capability lets us know the percentage of the recipients who opened the newsletter,” Wulpi said. “This comes in handy because this information helps guide our decisions about what content to include and whether to adjust the design or layout to increase reader satisfaction.”

Community also adds more well-crafted content to the True Blue newsletter as opposed to sending it out by email through the student LISTSERV. “We didn’t like sending the newsletter out through the student LISTSERV because it was just a wall of text and links.” Wulpi said. “Community allows us to add basic HTML markup and pictures to make it more interesting and aesthetically pleasing.”

All students can login to Community by visiting www.ipfw.edu/my-community and use their current IPFW student username and password to access their personal profiles. Once students are logged on, they can create an event request, co-curricular transcript and find out about other student organizational events happening on campus.

Success at IPFW’s Third Annual Community Service Fair

IPFW hosted its third annual Community Service Fair on Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. in the Walb Student Union Classic Ballroom as an effort to connect students and community members with local not-for-profit agencies.

Over 40 agencies were present at the Community Service Fair to offer students, staff and faculty members information about the various volunteer opportunities available within the community.

“Most of the agencies will take volunteers for different activities throughout the year and try to get them engaged throughout the community by volunteering and networking with the organizations they might be interested in working with now or in the future,” Casey Eisenreich, graduate assistant for the office of student life and leadership, said.

A wide variety of not-for-profit organizations and volunteer opportunities were available at the fair including Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Alliance, American Red Cross, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Junior Achievement and many others.

“A lot of students assume volunteer work means picking up a shovel or getting your hands dirty,” Eisenreich said. “This event allows students the opportunity to see all of the organizations that need volunteers for really diverse causes, and that there’s a fit for anyone who wants to make a difference.”

According to Eisenreich, the goals for this year’s Community Service Fair include connecting individuals with agencies they are interested in, creating awareness of the various volunteer opportunities and increasing the number of volunteers to support the not-for-profit organizations and each of their causes.

“I think all three of those goals have been met,” Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for student life and leadership, said. “Given that over 200 people attended the fair and were able to witness just how many opportunities there are to help the community.”

In addition to the multiple volunteer opportunities, the Community Service Fair offered free food and giveaways. The students were also able to earn a free lunch if they filled out their Community Service Fair passport by visiting 12 agency tables.

“As a Don to Don coach, I see this event bringing more community to the campus, along with the added benefit of allowing students to network with various organizations to make connections,” Hideto Tanimura, student employee for the student success and transition office, said. “It’s amazing what can sprout from just a simple hello.”

This year, the Community Service Fair was sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Leadership, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Chancellor’s Council on Diversity and Career Services.

The Community Service fair is one of several events that occur during IPFW’s Diversity and Community Engagement Week, a week dedicated to promoting opportunities for community engagement and supporting IPFW’s diversity and beyond.

In addition to the Community Service Fair, IPFW will be hosting another community service event in the spring called The BIG Event. The BIG Event is a one-day service project where students, faculty, staff and alumni connect with the Fort Wayne community by volunteering a day of service for over 50 local not-for-profit agencies. This year The BIG Event will take place on April 16, 2016.

Office of Student Affairs Working to Cut Costs and Keep Tuition Low

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – IPFW’s Office of Student Affairs has allocated $2.6 million for its operating budget for fiscal year 2015, which is 1% of the university’s budget.

The operating budget for Office of Student Affairs marks a 0.1% decrease in total expenditures compared to the previous year. The bulk of this decrease is represented by the cutback in general expenses and supplies by $28,820 in the current year.

“The Office of Student Affairs is working to cut costs where we can in order to keep IPFW’s tuition from increasing any more than it needs to,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs George McClellan said. “We are very aware that a lot of our students are working class people, so we take the cost of education very seriously.”

McClellan said the Office of Student Affairs has pursued a variety of initiatives to reduce general expenses and supplies costs by decreasing the amount of paper used, staying aggressive about negotiating service contracts with vendors, requesting prize donations to give away during orientation and finding cooperate sponsors to help fund events such as the Big Event.

The Office of Student Affairs has also been able to generate additional revenue with the help of a $1.2 million Student Support Services TRIO grant from the U.S. Department of Education. McClellan said this grant helps fund Student Support Services, the Upward Bound program and certain academic support services including academic advising, tutoring, financial aid counseling and career assessment.

In addition to keeping IPFW’s tuition low, “the Office of Student Affairs prioritizes budget spending on the departments, people and programs that contribute to student success,” McClellan said.

According the fiscal year 2016 Office of Student Affairs budget summary, 20% of the operating budget is allocated to the Department of Dean of Students and its associated programs including Services for Students with Disabilities, Peer Educators Program and the IPFW Parkview Student Assistance Program.

16% is allocated to the Department of Student Success and Transitions and its correlated programs including the Mastodon Advising Center and the Crossroads program.

15% is allocated to the Department for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and its associated programs including the Center for Women & Returning Adults, Military Student Services and the Resource Center.

The operating budget does not cover all student service programs. David Reynolds, business manager for student affairs and enrollment management, said 37% of student service fee dollars are spent on student programs and activities organized within the various departments of student affairs. Some of the programs and activities that are funded by student service fee dollars include intramural sports, the Communicator, Casa tutors and the Student Handbook.

All students pay the service fee. Student service fees for the 2015-2016 academic year for undergraduates is $12.95 per credit hour. The student service fee amount has increased by 2% since 2014-2015 academic year.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Leadership, Kasey Price, said a lot of the student service fee money goes back into student wages. The operating budget for the Office of Student Affairs increased in hourly wages by $25,017 from last year’s hourly wages, which includes payment for student labor and part-time staff.

“A lot of the positions for these student programs are filled by student workers, so the student service fee dollars end up back into the students’ pockets,” Price said.