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Awarding support

National recognition for 'one-stop-shop' student support

Student Life

By Elizabeth Furey

Memorial University is the recipient of the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services (AACUSS) Award of Excellence in Student Services for a collaborative web initiative called MUN Up.

The words "MUN Up" are in yellow and pink in a black circle. A purple and pink cloudy sky is the backdrop. The words "The sky's the limit with Memorial's new resource hub" appear in white at the bottom.

A one-stop-shop online hub, MUN Up was developed early in the COVID-19 pandemic to bring together supports and services for students to help prepare them for remote learning.

Created by a pan-institutional team from student services, marketing and communications, information technology, and teaching and learning functional areas, the hub includes access to transition and orientation programs, remote and online academic support services, virtual events, community engagement opportunities and links to campus-specific supports.

“Memorial University stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic and created a comprehensive, integrated and hassle-free approach to address ever-changing and uncertain realities of the pandemic that affected student learning and engagement,” said Dr. Hardy Cox, associate vice-president (academic) students.

“We are very appreciative and excited to be recognized by AACUSS for this collective work to support students. MUN Up brings together important online content, services and supports from across the university all in one place to help students succeed in challenging times.”

Beneficial to student life

The AACUSS Award for Excellence in Student Services is given annually to a member of AACUSS or a member’s department that has demonstrated excellence or exceptional service through the development of a new initiative beneficial to student life, directly or indirectly, over the previous year.

“Within MUN Up, new and revised programs were introduced, such as Kickstart, and a series of campus-specific orientation and transition programs – MUN 101 and the Peer Mentor Network and MUN 501 for undergraduate and graduate students at St. John’s campus; MI Journey for Marine Institute students; and Your Grenfell Experience for Grenfell Campus students.

“There are also resources like the Academic Success Centre, tools offered by the Centre for Innovation in Technology and Learning to support online and remote learning, and the Ask Me Live Studio,” said Dr. Hardy Cox.

Hundreds of students

Kickstart began in June 2020 to give high school students a taste of how a university course works, get a better understanding of what is expected of them as post-secondary students and to (virtually) meet future classmates before classes began in the fall.

Hundreds of new students continue to participate in the program in spring/summer.

From there, new students at the St. John’s campus transitioned into MUN 101, a fully online early orientation and transition program for first-year students to adjust to university life, learn the ropes, become part of the community and prepare for success.

“This one-stop-shop has allowed us to continue to support holistic student success throughout our students’ journey at Memorial.” — Dr. Donna Hardy Cox

It was delivered in Brightspace, Memorial’s learning management system, to help students get acquainted with many of the tools and resources they would be using when they officially started their degree program in fall 2020.

The Peer Network, an online group peer-mentoring program, was launched to actively support student social connection and foster a sense of connection and community for new Memorial students during their first term.

The Ask Me Live Studio sessions brought together academic leadership, students and others from across campuses. The 30-minute, live question and answer sessions featured expert guests from Memorial staff and academic leadership.

The Academic Success Centre was developed to give students access to Memorial student supports ranging from help centres to technical support to accessibility services. It also contains a student event and workshop calendar offering seminars, workshops and more, all designed to support academic success.

Fall Welcome 2020, one of Memorial’s orientation programs, ran in the beginning of September and involved the modification of a week’s worth of in-person events to be delivered mostly remotely instead, including academic events, Academic Matriculation and faculty/school orientations, as well as social events, like the Coffee Night Social and Student Volunteer Bureau Trivia Nights.

With the majority of students continuing their studies remotely through the 2020-21 academic year, online resources such as MUN Up and the Virtual Academic Success Centre proved invaluable in supporting student success.

“This one-stop-shop has allowed us to continue to support holistic student success throughout our students’ journey at Memorial,” said Dr. Hardy Cox.

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