Improving student success requires work both in and outside the classroom. Over the holiday break, I reflected on the progress IUPUI has made in building better support for students outside the classroom.
One year ago, we transformed University Place Conference Center into Hine Hall with classrooms and student study space. Later in the year, the University Place Hotel became University Tower, with housing for 560 students and our first dining hall.
These freshly configured facilities and the development of private off-campus housing options for students near IUPUI have given the campus a whole new atmosphere. They created expectations for expanding services that support 24/7 student life—not only for the nearly 2,000 students who live in campus housing but also for those who live near campus or who are drawn to stay on campus after class hours because of the presence of extracurricular or cocurricular activities.
The new dining hall has been popular right off the bat. From the beginning of the fall semester through November 30, the dining hall recorded 154,700 total visits, including 132,740 students using their meal plans.
Students are also seeking more fitness and recreation options on campus. IUPUI is partnering with the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS) to offer students discounted memberships to its facility, which includes an indoor running/walking track, basketball court, and an array of cardiovascular and strength training equipment. IUPUI will underwrite the NIFS initiation fee for students.
In the spring, students will be able to use the new outdoor recreational facility across from the University Tower. It has two new sand volleyball courts, two basketball courts, a large green space for informal recreation, two shelters, and a bike rack. IUPUI’s Campus Recreation Office already offers access to the Natatorium.
Having more students on campus more of the time also gives us opportunities to develop experience-based learning, where Division of Student Affairs staff collaborate with academic units on activities that link the classroom to campus and city life.
Guiding many of these developments are the new Principles of Cocurricular Learning (PCLs). The PCLs incorporate IUPUI’s nationally recognized Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs), which have focused the academic mission of the campus for more than two decades, but they do so in a way that shapes learning outside the classroom.
Within a short distance of campus, there are many educational and cultural amenities. IUPUI’s long-standing community engagement gives us wonderful opportunities to further stretch our “borders” for the many more students living on and near campus.
There are increased opportunities for involvement with the more than 350 student organizations, intramural team sports, community service programs and alternative spring break trips. Some 200 on-campus jobs through the Division of Student Affairs engage students in the IUPUI experience and contribute to their persistence to graduation.
A partnership between the Office of Student Involvement and the Organizational Leadership and Supervision program awards academic credit to students for qualifying cocurricular leadership experiences. The courses teach students to make clear connections between their out-of-class involvement and theoretical knowledge related to leadership.
The Residential Based Learning Communities in Housing and Residence Life continue to be an important part of the lives of students living on campus. These learning communities allow students to live in a community of other residents that share a common major, academic focus, or other interest. Among the first were the Women in Science House and Kelley School of Business House. The newest are Physical Education and Tourism Management and School of Public and Environmental Affairs criminal justice and pre-law majors. The communities in University Tower include Honors, Out-of-State Student Experience, Living Your Freshman Experience, First-Generation Experience, and Sophomore Year Experience.
Making a complicated campus like IUPUI into friendly “neighborhoods” by giving students ways to connect with each other around common interests and activities will go a long way toward making sure they succeed in their studies and persist to graduation.