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Enhancing Student Services with the New Center for Advising, Records and Enrollment Services, Wellness Center and Learning Commons

Training Drills with New Jersey State Police and Local Law Enforcement
Aquinas Hall : Brusar Office
Training Drills with New Jersey State Police and Local Law Enforcement

Caldwell, N.J., July 13, 2015 – If you build it they will come. There’s been quite a lot of building on campus this past year—not shovel-in-the-ground building, but beautiful new renovations for repurposing of existing space, all with the goal of enhancing services for students.

The new Center for Advising, Records and Enrollment Services, known as Caldwell CARES, houses academic advisement, registrar and institutional research, the bursar and financial aid.

Located on the first floor of Aquinas Hall, Caldwell CARES “is a one-stop-shop, multi-office concept with the aim of increasing student service,” explains Ian White, the university’s registrar.

Junior Amy Hickman appreciates the convenience. “The biggest benefit that students will receive from CARES is being able to utilize several departments at one location.”

Caldwell CARES features a large self-service kiosk where students can use computers to register for courses, pay bills, access their unofficial transcripts, and check their class schedules and degree audits, which show their progress toward graduation. “The center looks very technologically updated, and it is a very comfortable environment,” says Hickman.

When they enter the center, students immediately see four enrollment management employees who represent the different departments. . These employees are cross-trained in the different areas to answer student questions and to provide them with immediate assistance.

Behind those four employees are even more staff with specific expertise, which Hickman says is important for students to know. “One thing that I think should be stressed to students is that in the center you can still talk to someone alone in a room away from other departments or customers.”

Wellness Center

The new Wellness Center on the second floor of the Newman Center is joining the body, mind and spirit by combining the Counseling Services, Health Services and Campus Ministry offices.

Robin Davenport, director of the Counseling Services Office, and Cindy Striano, director of the Health Services Office, are looking forward to providing holistic care to students and to having mental and physical care together in one department. “When you increase collaboration and proximity, students get a better quality of care … it’s a totally different vibe now,” says Striano. Davenport points out that research is clear about the mind/body connection when treating physical ailments and mental health issues, “so it makes sense to have the health and counseling services situated in the same location.”

With the offices housed in the same space—along with Campus Ministry, led by Chaplain Father Al Berner—it will be easier to plan new holistic programming that addresses the needs of the whole person,” says Davenport.

There is a common waiting area with educational materials. Receptionists from Counseling and Health Services greet students. Striano says students may not be aware that no fee or insurance is required. “It is a great opportunity for students to get care in the ever-changing health care market.”

“This is a win-win for everyone,” says Joseph Posillico, vice president for enrollment and communications. “The students benefit with better and more holistic services, and the university is able to also provide more housing opportunities for students.” The move of the Health Services office from Mother Joseph Residence Hall to the Newman Center allowed the repurposing of space to construct beautiful new dorm rooms to accommodate the university’s growing residential population. Posillico sums up the moves this way: “We owe it to our students to provide them the best services possible, and these two major initiatives will certainly do that.”

Learning Commons and Center for Teaching and Learning

The Jennings Library opened two new spaces in July: the Learning Commons and the Center for Teaching and Learning. The Learning Commons is designed to encourage collaboration and offers an array of seating options as well as academic support from the Writing Center and the library. The Commons is fully wireless, and with technology infused throughout, students can bring their own devices, borrow laptops or work together in specially equipped booths. The Center for Teaching and Learning is a new space adjacent to the Learning Commons that is specifically designed for faculty. It includes a resource center with access to the latest research and best practices in teaching and learning. It also provides meeting space and workspace for developing grant proposals, incubating research ideas and engaging in collaborative research with colleagues.