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How to forge strong student-faculty-administration relationships

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Due to the massive increase in communications technology, the need for diverse team collaborations and the establishment of interpersonal relationships has exponentially risen. In college, it is especially important to take advantage of any opportunities that will help increase communication between you and the university’s faculty and administration. Forging student-faculty-administration relationships can result in innumerable opportunities. These individuals have a variety of knowledge to share with the ones who choose to tap into them. These people have amazing experiences to share with you and serve as great potential mentors. Many universities are beginning to understand how important creating these relationships are and create opportunities like study abroad, internships, and social events all to encourage their students to get in touch and communicate!  Although it is easy to feel intimidated by these people, know that they only want you to be successful. Many times, you’ll find that they are willing to work with you extensively to ensure that you get the most out of your university experience.  Now you might ask, how do I start forging these relationships at my university.


We always hear the cliche from our parents, “It’s not about what you know, it's who you know”; however, as old as this saying is, it still rings true today. Colleges have recognized the importance of meeting other students. They stimulate this ideal by giving students icebreaker activities at their orientation weekend to meet new people. Even the RA (Resident Assistant) in charge of your dormitory unit attempts to cultivate friendships. What’s up with all of this?

The answer is peer networking. Peer networking has become one of those new-age buzzwords colleges and employers like repeating over and over again. Fostering relationships with students at your respective university is a crucial step in the networking process. Reserving yourself to only like-minded people or people with the same major will not only limit yourself, it will also deprive you of seeing other opportunities in the future. Think of meeting different people as analogous to a diverse stock market portfolio. So go out, and meet different people. You can meet people through various mediums. For instance, LinkedIn, a social media site, has thrived off the networking binge.

Once you go out and meet new people, find students who share your similar passion. They can be younger or older than you. If they are older than you, and they’ve experienced things that interest you, ask them about it. See if there’s a possibility for you to experience those things in the future. On the flip side, once you experience insightful activities, figure out a way to “pass down the torch” to younger students. You can also directly recruit other students to eventually take your place; the utilization of transition documents is key here as well.


Connecting with faculty can often be a tricky process for students as they go about their academic career. However, those that do so earlier on often find that

There are unexpected rewards to building those relationships. For first year students, this might be an exclusive opportunity to join a prestigious organization or for upperclassmen it might look like an chance to be recommended for a new internship or job. Whatever the case, those that have built relationships all tend to feel that the faculty members really care about the wellbeing of their students.

For those that are just beginning on their journey to building a relationship, the first step is to become interested. Those in the classroom, show that you care about the subject and be willing to explore the topics outside the set curriculum. You can do this by asking engaging questions that allow the professor or instructor to elaborate more about a detail. If asking a question in class is not an option, perhaps send them an email and ask it there. If there is time after class reach out to them. Let them know who you are and why you are there; begin allowing them to put a name your face.

Get involved. Put yourself in an organization. Get to know the faculty advisor. Advisors tend to be heavily connected with those across the campus and they are a great resource to have. Gradually, as you build your reputation not only will your credibility grow in the eyes of faculty but also your relationship. A benefit to this route is that the number of doors of opportunity that open are directly proportional to how dedicated you are.

Finally, as a developing student leader there will be opportunities to enact a positive change on your campus. If you wish to do so, be prepared to connect with some new and familiar faces. While you prepare to present your cause, having past credibility with some faculty can often lend the proper authority to speak on topics involving the university. By championing this cause, not only do you demonstrate passion for the school but you also demonstrate a greater understanding of the internal workings of the university. This is a great moment for you to begin building a connection with higher administration.


Though administration is often viewed as unapproachable by students, almost like a CEO of a major corporation to the average worker; making purposeful connections with administration is critical to making positive change. Establishing connections with the chairs of departments, who may also be your professors, is one way to overcome the barrier between administration and students.  Once these connections are established the chairs may be willing to assist students in bridging the gap between the students and the higher levels of administration.  

When considering which chairs to approach first look for individuals who have experience in the business world in conjunction or prior to their experience as faculty.  Faculty or administration that have experience in the working world are often more open to innovation and entrepreneurship and may not be as afraid to rock the boat of the standard mode of university operations.

A general rule to follow when determining the level of interest and engagement of prospective individuals in administration is to approach them no more than three times with your proposal.  Keep in mind that Chairs and other individuals in administrative roles are often much busier than the average faculty member and may take more time to get back with you.  Even though the beginning of the semester is often more relaxed for students this is typically not the case for most individuals in administrative roles.  Asking to meet with Chairs between the first two weeks of the semester and the last two weeks of the semester may yield a more enthusiastic response.



1. Fellow creates a proposal for a problem

The initial step towards solving a problem is to create a solution proposal.  A one-page document that lists the problem and the proposal in short will suffice.  Thanks to Dr. Mary Foster of Morgan State University, the attached template can be used towards your proposal. Here is an example:

Problem: Lack of communication between stakeholders/students and students/students

Possible Solution: Designing a board that can enhance the communication between both parties to enable creative collisions of new ideas.

2. Fellow connects with advisor

Connecting with an advisor is supercritical.  Find a faculty member who has a serious dedication towards entrepreneurship and someone who has the ability to break through departmental silos.  It is very important to check up with your advisor often to make sure that you are both on the same page.  If the person you have chosen to be as your advisor does not seem motivated or interested, then find a new advisor!

3. Fellow presents proposal to advisor

Once you have made a connection with an advisor, you can now bring that proposal to your advisor.  At this meeting, you can collaborate with them, bounce ideas off of them, and potentially create a better solution.

4. Advisor contacts dean

Deans are very busy people, so it is important to use their time efficiently and respectfully.  Your advisor should have had some sort of contact with a dean to smooth over the introduction process.  The main reason to have your advisor make the first approach is so when you pitch your proposal the dean, your name resonate with them.

5. Fellow presents proposal to deans

Be respectful and courteous of your dean’s time.  You should not be afraid to speak with a dean, as they are all interested in improving the education of their students.

6. Proposal goes into actual creation stage

After approval from your dean, it is now time to start the inital steps toward creating your solution. This step is most likely going to require money, so it is important to ask around for funding. DO NOT BE SHY. Once you secure the funding, you are halfway towards solving another problem on your campus!

Below is an example from Morgan State University: