Priorities:University of North Florida Student Priorities

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UNF 2023 UIF Cohort Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1: Student Canvas Seminar

Project Leaders: Bailey Estep, Dasha Dematte, Ishi Sharma, Gabi Bynum

The University of North Florida is not really familiar with design thinking and innovation yet and we as a group want to to create a course targeted towards Honors Students to get involved in not only the campus but innovation. The first half of the course will be to introduce responsibilities, finances, and how they intertwine with design thinking and innovation. The second half of the course will be targeted to team work around building a university wide event.

We as a group have experienced so much through design thinking and want to give the opportunity to other students. This course will help generate and give a space towards innovation to spread through our campus. We feel as a group that not only will this help the University but students by giving them great resources to succeed throughout their four years and into their given field.

Strategic Priority 2: Responsibility Resource Fair

Project Leader: Bailey Estep

Our university struggles with keeping students engaged and motivated to not only stay on campus but letting students being able to adapt to the new responsibilities of living independently. I surveyed many freshman, transfer, upperclassmen, and international students on what their experiences were as an independent adult so far. Many students struggled with adjusting to grocery shopping, making their own doctor appointments, finding a job on or off campus, or even just struggling with finding additional financial aid to get them through college. I met students who had to skip classes due to picking up extra shifts at work to afford tuition, international students who use the food pantry on campus because they have no transportation to grocery stores that are affordable, students who struggle with budgeting, and many students who suffer from severe homesickness.

To keep students feel included, motivated, innovative, and included to UNF I plan to address this issue with a Responsibility Resource Fair. Once a year every fall semester I plan to partner with our Market Wednesdays to plan a Themed Market Day towards responsibilities. Every table will represent a different responsibility. Some examples are finding car and health insurance, how to properly grocery shop, how to find a job on/off campus, interview and resume skills, how to adjust to being alone, what are the best ways to get involved at UNF, Access to therapy, finding a bank that is in Jacksonville and your home town to better help with banking, and so much more. Many of these ideas were inspired by student responses and what they needed/ currently need as a resource. I hope to not only help students feel more welcomes at UNF but to build our community as a whole towards supporting each other to be the best we can be.

Strategic Priority 3: Financial Literacy Solution

Student Leader: Dasha Dematte

How can we as a community foster an environment that supports a first year student to adapt to their new found independence? We as a community can foster an environment that supports first year students in finding their independence by providing financial literacy meetings to help teach students how to manage finances, debt, loans, etc.To teach freshly 18 year old students (or anyone obtaining their undergrad degree) who are living on campus how to manage their finances now that they are officially on their own with no support system in terms of $$.

A strategic priority for a financial literacy prototype may include showing students how financial literacy can make them financially more responsible and independent as a first time student living away from parents. One assumption to test based off of this strategic priority is the question of is teaching financial literacy a beneficial and relevant enough topic to integrate into our classrooms? A potential way to test this assumption is to have a mock meeting with students and after discussing feedback, ways to improve, and whether it is suitable enough to become part of UNF’s curriculum in the honors program.The way I chose to test my assumption was to create a survey for first time students (see picture) and see how they respond to the initial survey. The initial survey acted kind of like a pre-first meeting survey where it asks what concepts they do know, need extra help on, how can this program/meetings help benefit them best, and how we may be able to supply them for success for the class. I had gotten constructive feedback about my survey and what I learned was to make the pre-survey more in depth because it felt general to my testers and how I can make those meetings more interactive.

Student Priority 4: Innovation - Exposure to Action

Student Leader: Ishi Sharma

Innovation is often associated with specific majors such as entrepreneurship and engineering, when it should, instead, be portrayed as a tool and skill for students of all majors and backgrounds. This strategic priority is focused on exposing students to innovation in the everyday classroom and then equipping them with the resources they need to execute their ideas. The first part of the strategy revolves around creating a physical space on campus for ideation, research and flexible collaboration. UNF currently lacks innovation infrastructure, with the majority of it being spread across campus (such as the VR lab) or only being available to specific groups of students such as business majors. One physical space can help integrate these resources, providing technological and rapid prototyping resources, sensory stimulants and open areas for networking and collaboration. Apart from this, there will also be a people-driven component to the space which will host an annual interdisciplinary innovation challenge, student-led pop-up workshops and a platform for students and faculty with similar research interests to collaborate.

The second part of this priority is built around familiarizing students with innovation in the classroom. This can be facilitated by the innovation lab or be a standalone project. Fortunately, incorporating innovation is feasible for virtually any subject and does not require any major curriculum restructuring or otherwise. It could be done through something as simple as offering one project-based learning activity, a guided teamwork assignment or using common design thinking ideation techniques while ideating for regular assignments. This can help restructure learning to meet real-world application, helping students actively gauge ways that classroom concepts can be applied to solve problems. They can then be directed to the central space where they can further develop and find the resources to take action on their ideas.

Student Priority 5: Traditional University Wide Event

Student Leader: Gabi Bynum

The University of North Florida struggles with fostering greater student engagement, boosting mental health, and enhancing the sense of pride on our university campus. The idea is creating an annual university-wide event that will engage students and staff to create an environment that will encourage new students to become engaged and keep current students involved on campus. The idea of this event would give students a gateway and confidence to explore other opportunities that UNF has to offer such as student jobs, clubs, organizations, sports, programs, etc. Students can have a difficult time getting involved if the campus does not feel like a welcoming and active community so to start the fall semester with an event that every student and university faculty can look forward to. The main goal is to give those students trust in UNF's community and give faculty the opportunity to get connected to other staff they typically do not have the option to interact with.

Through networking, friendly competition, and common purpose, students will not only become more involved in the campus community but will also find mental health benefits from this event as well. First-time students have a hard time adjusting to a new environment so having a major event that will allow them to meet others will allow for them a comfortable environment to make friends. Each student struggles one time or another at college with classes, jobs, and other obligations that they forget to prioritize their mental health by doing fun activities. This event will give students time to decompress and let the stress of their college workload go for a short amount of time.

UNF 2022 UIF Cohort Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1: Student Collaboration

Project Leaders: Aliesha Brown & Nicholas Swanger

The transition from high school to college is a daunting experience. New students have a week to adjust to a new roommate, explore an entirely new environment, set themselves up for academic and social success, and simply figure out how thrive independently. Additionally, one of the UNF President Limayem's goal is to improve student retention, and to effectively address this issue, we believe that students need to have a strong social support network.

Past the first year, students are locked into their "departmental silos", and collaboration between students is restricted to the group projects, which many students dread, or an opportunity such as a fellowship that allows similarly-minded students to connect. Without appropriately developing the framework that connects students with one another, students are missing out on valuable experiences and lessons for their future professional and personal success.

To address these issues, we wish to establish a mentorship network between students to provide support at critical transition points, primarily for incoming freshman. We believe that this program can be expanded to tackle other related issues such as faculty-student collaboration through linking mentors with faculty mentors, and it we also hope to expand it to other departments and areas to help address UNF's low student retention.

Strategic Priority 2: Marketing and Communications Reboot

Project Leaders: Emma Dvorovy

A huge initiative of this priority consists of trying to help create a more accessible pathway between students and resources. There are so many great resources that are already available at UNF such as the writing center, however we are seeing not much use of them. The easy answer would be that all the students are just not needing this, but that isn't the case. We believe that UNF needs a bit of a start over when it comes to communicating that there are such programs already in place to help struggling students.

We hope to tackle this issue by working with the communication director and restructuring a webpage that already exists. This will be made to be structured in a way that makes information and resources easily accessible and all in one place so students don't have to look in so many different places and ultimately get discouraged.

Strategic Priority 3: Indisciplinary Research and Collaboration

Project Leaders: Katherine Evans, Mohamed Elbatouty

After professors, advisors consist of whom students reach out to most when it comes to not only planning their path at any university but also any problems or difficulties they face along the way. We believe that every profession should be open to feedback and insight from whom they are representing as this will allow them to tailor to the environment they find themselves in. At UNF we have an optional Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaire (ISQ) at the end of every semester which asks a wide variety of questions where students rate with a Likert scale of Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree in order to rate a professor in a qualitative manner. Sticking on the subject of advisors, we also want to try to create a better relationship between different departments in order to promote interdisciplinary majors rather than your ordeal, set in stone majors.

We believe that by adding this component, the relationship between advisors and students would improve dramatically as it would create an open dialogue to help assist both parties feel they are seeking what they truly out for.

Strategic Priority 4: Reframing of the Innovative and Entrepreneurial Mindset

Project Leaders: Aliesha Brown, Nicholas Swanger, Emma Dvorovy, Katherine Evans, Mohamed Elbatouty, Jalen Echenique, Jeffery Perera

When asking others about the terms "innovation" and "entrepreneurship", many students seem to have the incorrect mindset that these are limited to certain fields; students assume that entrepreneurship is restricted to those pursuing business degrees, and, similarly, they assume that innovation is limited to STEM majors. Without changing this mentality and encouraging the UNF I&E culture inclusive of other majors, it will be more difficult to gain traction in future endeavors, and we believe that many students will be discouraged to pursue the opportunities we hope to create.

The underlying goal for our initiatives and projects are to create a shift in this mindset to one that:

  • Promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in every major and department
  • Communicates with faculty to promote innovative opportunities within classes
  • Encourages collaborative social and academic environments on campus
  • Empowers students to believe they can innovate and change the world

UNF 2021 UIF Cohort Strategic Priorities

As a Preface: Mental Health is a serious issue on campus that we would like to address, especially after this past year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic; many of our projects focus on addressing mental health and the struggles that are sometimes inherent to it, in order to provide a grounding for facilitating innovation on campus.

Change Story Video

Strategic Priority 1: Therapeutics to Promote Morale

Project Leaders: Kathryn Fox, Keegan Colunga

As is common to the college experience, UNF students often find themselves overwhelmed amidst the host of classes, meetings, extracurricular involvements, etc. that they engage in. Burnout is a very real consequence of this aspect of the student's life going unmodulated. In addition, this may manifest itself differently in students, as stress management is not a universal skill; providing a mode by which students can de-stress or otherwise participate in therapeutic resources on campus is arguably paramount to ensuring students make the most of their time in college.

One way this could take place is by hosting a dedicated event whereby people can bring 'therapy dogs' on campus - in essence providing a space where students can simply de-stress by interacting with the animals. There is much research to back up its efficacy as a therapy method, and it is also a low-cost and low-commitment resource for students as well. In addition, this could also serve as a forum for those with service animals to educate others on proper etiquette, as an effort to raise awareness. We could also use this idea for self-report data to determine its value, using such metrics as students' stress level and grades, to see if there is any causal relationship between the idea and improved performance in academics or otherwise.

Strategic Priority 2: Allyship as a Vehicle for Inclusion

Project Leaders: Kathryn Fox, Jacqueline Small, Keegan Colunga

In the context of discussing and taking heed of mental health, we believe it is important to set up frameworks for the University at large to facilitate inclusivity and raising awareness. Thus, it is important to establish resources for both students and faculty to have at their disposal when aiming to tackle such a multifaceted issue.

Tangible ways to implement this include:

  • Workshops on mental health issues and how to be supportive;
  • Opt-in training seminars for professors to tackle mental health issues and implement strategies in the classroom;
  • Provide training for student RA's and LCA's on navigating mental health crises; among others.

Strategic Priority 3: Facilitating Solidarity Among Students

Project Leaders: Jacqueline Small

It is our conviction that in order to 'grease the wheels' of the I&E dynamic on campus, we must facilitate a sense of camaraderie amongst students. Fostering a sense of community can help greatly in bringing together the collective strengths students bring to the table. Additionally, in the spirit of tackling mental health, this can also serve as a means to provide a colloquy for students who may need a steady support group.

This would most likely take the form of a recurring fellow-hosted (or appointed student) event whereby students can gather together in a 'vent space' - simply put, a safe space for students to vent their frustrations, or even discuss high points in their personal/professional lives. There is no imperative to frame it negatively; but rather to characterize it as a no-judgement space for students to conglomerate and discuss the state of their mental health. Drawing from candidates' experiences within UNF's Honors College, perhaps the 'fishbowl' conversation model can be implemented.

Strategic Priority 4: Creative Outlet

Project Leaders: Matthew Lashenick

As aforementioned, student burnout can be a crippling issue. Therapeutic methods for stress management are an easy way for students to better manage their academic experience. For our first strategic priority we discussed the merits and efficacy of the use of therapy animals with students. In contrast, with this priority we aim to provide a more student-centric model, as well as implement a way for more impactful student involvement.

To that end, this project would entail providing a recurring walk-in event for students whereby they are given materials and drawing prompts as a pseudo-art therapy; it can be as structured (i.e. a defined game with rules) or unstructured (i.e. minimal direction, student can draw whatever they envision) as the students wish. The aim is twofold; provide another mode for stress reduction, as well as provide a means for students to get involved as facilitators, once again feeding into the point about community-building from the previous project.

UNF 2020 UIF Cohort Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1: Introducing Innovation on Campus

Project Leaders: Erisa Gjoka, Rory Hampson, Tala Sartawi

Showcasing Innovation to bring awareness and inspiration to the student body at the University of North Florida is a priority to our cohort. We want to enable students to thrive by equipping them with resources that motivate them to think more creatively in their respective fields. Innovation is hardly something that is confined to one or two disciplines; it is a versatile enhancement to all fields. If put forth utilizing the proper strategies (design thinking, prototyping, team collaboration, etc.), students should be able to take principles and wisdom from the opportunities provided to them and take that forth into their daily lives, finding unique ways to contribute to the creative and innovative atmosphere at UNF.

1. Perhaps through a TEDx conference series, or a mock Shark Tank event in which students could pitch their ideas to successful entrepreneurs and potential investors. These experiences would allow I&E to reach students from all disciplines. Through events like these, students would be able to brainstorm, prototype, collaborate, network, and possibly gain mentors along the way.

2. An open Maker Space called MindHUb at UNF

  • This open design thinking space would be a center located on campus that would provide students with a space to work on ideas and prototypes
  • MindHub at UNF makerspace would include: rooms for teams to work on ideas, a huge whiteboard wall for students to brainstorm ideas and think out loud, 3D printers and other tools necessary for making various prototypes.
  • Available to the students will also be an I&E advisor that would provide the students with opportunities on and off-campus for innovation and entrepreneurship. This advisor would be the middle person between the center at UNF and the Entrepreneurship Center Downtown.
  • Provided by Mindhub are seminars and events focused on design thinking, productivity, team collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship in various fields of studies on campus.

Strategic Priority 2: Marketing & Communications

Project Leader: Maxwell Twardowski

Something that we have noticed as we have begun to investigate potential issues at UNF is a major lack of marketing and communication in regards to the resources offered to students at our university. UNF has many resources to offer, and students may know about some of the better marketed ones, such as the counseling center and the international center, however certain other resources the university has to offer, such as the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which hosts startup businesses and offers different entrepreneurial services to UNF students and members of the community, as well as the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which deals with research done by graduate and undergraduate students and can offer grants or other different project management services to students. These resources, although extremely useful and can be major assets to UNF students, are not well advertised or marketed, and a solution such as a website with information on every resource UNF has to offer could be a major help to make sure these services are properly utilized.

Strategic Priority 3: Mental Health

Project Leader: Jules Gerstein

Although students report that they believe UNF is an environment that actively encourages positive mental health and the wellbeing of students, they also report that marketing among organizations and resources promoting positive mental healthcare fall short. We believe students should actively be aware of their mental health and have sustainable resources to address it. While the counseling center offers various resources, the lack of participation and centralized outreach may cause students to withdraw from seeking mental healthcare or miss out on opportunities. Perhaps, through a campus-wide Mental Health Awareness week students could benefit from events led by mostly students, but also the psychology department and counseling center to spread awareness about the importance of mental health. We would use this week as an opportunity to highlight resources available and to stress how mental health practices can improve not only our personal success but academic and professional success. This week would not only be a temporary fix but have a long-term plan to address mental health inequities. Furthermore, we would approach departments across campus to partake in the promotion of mental health resources on campus and to encourage open dialogue among students and professors. With a reported decrease in the quality of education due to the pandemic, students are missing out on personal connections and opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations. Addressing departments about this issue could also improve how students view their education and their mental health during this difficult time.

During Mental Health Awareness Week:

  • Mental Healthcare Resource Fair, exposing students to resources on campus
  • Suicide Awareness Walk, 5k walk to promote suicide awareness, and physical activity that is scientifically proven to increase dopamine levels
  • Workshops, such as: How to Manage Stress, How to Cope with Academic Failure or Unmet Expectations, Mediation Practices
  • Guest lecturers from professors on the correlation between taking care of your mental health and productivity
  • Guest speakers from students who could share their personal struggles with mental health and strategies

Strategic Priority 4: Building a More Interactive Community

Project Leader: Tala Sartawi

A big issue that UNF students often complain about is the lack of a strong student community on campus. This is due to the commuter nature of UNF. As a team, we believe that helping create a well-knitted community on campus is an essential first step to help students.

Community Room:

  • As simple as this sounds this idea would help create unity amongst the UNF student body as it would provide them with the place where they can go and hang out and mingle.
  • It would have comfy couches, a snack bar, a coffee machine, and a few board games, and a TV screen.
  • The idea behind it is to provide commuting students with a place to relax and hang out in-between classes instead of sitting in the library. As the library is already a crowded place with not enough seating.
  • For the idea to be successful it needs to be properly marketed and strategically placed in the middle of campus in an obvious location in order for students to easily locate it. The location is crucial as it has to be close to most buildings to make it more accessible and practical so that students can go there in between classes

The Change Story of the 2020 UIF Cohort

Strategic Priorities: 2019 Cohort

Strategic Priority 1: Connecting Students With Resources

Project Leader: Courtney Ardizzoni

Discuss the marketing of innovation, through multiple social media sites for a large selection of students to give their ideas for innovative solutions. Both upper and undergraduate students are excited to give their opinions on change at the university and hope to actually have an opportunity to speak on these aspects in the future.  Using social media and flyers to promote upcoming events and innovative programs are the best way currently to share this information, but in the future we are hoping to continue to innovate using multiple platforms to provide all students with the chance to get involved.

Strategic Priority 2&4: Innovation Solution Challenge

Project Leader: Anastasia Daniels

The third prototype we created was an event similar to an escape room that challenged teams of students to create a solution to a problem in an hour. The event is called “Innovative Solution Challenge”. The students will be given a prompt to solve a real-world problem. Each team will consist of 4-6 members and they will be in the rooms at the same time. They will all be given the same prompt to solve and can only use the materials provided in the room. Ideally, the solution to the problem will be theoretical and they would use the materials to be able to illustrate the solution. Real-world problems could range from income inequality to racism. Materials that would be in the room would range from markers and papers. At the end of the hour, the students would present their ideas to the other groups. The goal of the event is to encourage innovation and design thinking among each group and for the groups to also see how others from different backgrounds decided to solve the same problem. 

For the actual development of the project that I would lead, I would have to book rooms in the Student Union for each team to be in as well as a bigger room for all the teams to present their project in at the end. All of the team members would have to put up flyers and spread the word around campus for students to start creating their teams. Ideally, we would have 4 teams of 4-6 people. Once these teams RSVP, we send them the basic rules of the game and have them arrive early. Prior to their arrival, we set the rooms up with the materials. When the teams arrive, each fellow debriefs a team and they all begin at the same time. After doing this event once, we will learn from the students what worked and what didn’t and make improvements for the next. We would hold this event twice a semester. 

Strategic Priority 3: Teaching Innovation Institute

Project Leader: Evan Maslin

Priority three in our two-year strategic plan is a formal redesign of the Teaching Innovation Institute offered by the Office of Faculty Enhancement. The curriculum of the institute will focus on equipping faculty with the tools needed to integrate creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skill-building activities into the classroom. This project is going to require the coordination of resources and the collaboration between several different departments/institutes/offices on-campus. 

  • Determine if there is funding available to provide faculty members with a stipend and/or future development funds 
    • The value of the stipend or the future development funds must be equivalent to what the faculty member would have received if they had taught a summer course 
  • Collect quantitative data pertaining to student engagement/participation in the classroom, benefits of utilizing alternative teaching methods (on GPA, retention rates, etc.), and faculty interest in the program
    • This will be collected via academic journals, speaking with professionals in the field, and by conducting a student opinion research survey 
  • Establish a partnership between the Office of Faculty Enhancement, Taylor Leadership Institute, and University Innovation Fellows 
    • Ensure that each party involved designates an official liaison tasked with developing and administering the institute 
      • Office of Faculty Enhancement: Dr. Dan Richard 
      • Taylor Leadership Institute: Dr. Matthew Olhson 
      • University Innovation Fellows: Evan Maslin 
  • Redesign the current training curriculum to focus on innovative teaching methods and student skill-building while ensuring to receive both faculty and student input 
    • Host multiple brainstorming and prototyping sessions with both faculty and students
      • Two of each type of session per semester  
  • Secure a venue for the program, advertise, and select participating faculty
    • Host the institute at either the College of Education or Adam W. Herbert University Center 
    • Advertise the institute to faculty members by sending out a university-wide email, posting information on social media, and meeting with faculty members identified as premier candidates
  • Have faculty reflect on their experience at the institute and if there used any of the methodologies taught in the semester immediately following their completion of the institute 
    • The initial reflection should be completed no more than one week after the conclusion of the institute 
    • Faculty will be sent a survey and asked to complete at the end of the first term immediately preceding their successful completion of the institute 
  • Improve the institute for the next year 

Strategic Priority 5: Funding Student Innovation

Project Leader: Thatcher Hart

The last priority of the long term planning of promoting innovative thinking at UNF would be to help encourage and incentivize students to come up with innovative solutions to the problems that they see on campus. Coordinating different funding sources in order to come up with a substantial pot of money that could be allocated for these innovative purposes. Combined with the previous steps in our overall plan this would help create an environment on campus that would highly encourage innovative ideas to be spread across campus 

  • Survey students about likelihood of participating if eligible for financial compensation 
    • Get a better understanding of where the money needs to go and the amount of students that would be interested. 
  • Talk to Student Government, the Honors College, and other colleges about donating money 
    • Construct an agreement to see what percentage of the funds would come from each donor or if a single entity on campus would be funding the entire scholarship / TLO
  • Set up committee/group that would allocate the funding to the students 
    • Have this croup encompass both students and faculty having representation from all levels of the university to better gage the amount of impact that each project would have on the university as a whole.
  • Create more awareness of the opportunity on campus once it is put into place. 
    • Put up flyers on campus and have teachers spread the word in classes and have them try to identify students with these ideas to persuade them to step forward and pursue the objective they have in mind
    • Send out email blasts to the students faculty and administration of the university to further spread awareness. 
    • Start having current social media accounts that are aimed toward the correct target having posts that would persuade these innovative projects to collect the money to advance the idea.

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