Welcome to the inaugural issue of the newsletter of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA). We’re the undergraduate academic support and policy people and units within the Provost’s area of Academic Affairs, comprised of the former Office of Undergraduate Education and the Office of Academic Engagement.
We are excited to share stories of accomplishment, innovation, and resilience among our students, staff, and faculty, and to share timely information that you can use. We also want to introduce our talented staff to the larger WSU community, and highlight our programs’ many events that appear on our online calendars.
We chose “Star” as our title for its many evocative resonances: light, brilliance, direction, guiding, distinction; and as an acronym for problem-solving and storytelling methods. It is, as well, a traditional name for a newspaper (Evening Star, Morning Star). Galileo’s ground-breaking work was The Starry Messenger. We hope the DAESA STAR illuminates the distinctions of our students, staff, and faculty; provides light and guidance where needed; and points toward solutions to problems and barriers. Ultimately we want this collective work to support a more just and equitable student experience and institutional structure.
—Mary Wack, Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement
Creating change to meet COVID-19 challenges
When face-to-face teaching and learning activities were abruptly halted mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DAESA’s people and programs switched gears immediately to continue to serve the needs of students with as little disruption as possible throughout spring and summer and now into fall. We transitioned to offering online classes, services, communication, and workshops. We responded immediately to pressing financial needs of students anxious to continue their education. We are offering Zoom- and YouTube-based presentations and workshops on many topics to varied audiences. And, we even helped WSU professors engage undergraduates from across the nation in virtual, NSF-sponsored summer research.
The Office of Academic Engagement, for example, rapidly processed applications from hundreds of low-income students so as to distribute a half million dollars in aid in just over a month. The Writing Program’s Writing Center reached out to provide summer school students with convenient appointments for online peer tutoring. International students enrolled in the freshman seminar class (UNIV 104) did teamwork and lessons completely over the internet. DAESA’s Academic Success and Career Center switched to online academic and career counseling, and launched employer signups to have a place at WSU’s first virtual career fair in October. Several DAESA units recorded videos and staffed discussion sessions as part of the university’s virtual Alive! summer orientation program for thousands of incoming new students. The Common Reading Program delivered virtual expert guest lectures related to topics from the 2019-20 shared book, and continues to line up speakers and events for 2020-21 readers of the new book, Born a Crime, by TV personality Trevor Noah.
Plans and lively discussions have continued as DAESA staff and programs prepared for fall semester. Be sure to visit our DAESA website and those of our programs and units, as well as our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts. You’ll find a wealth of information.
Meet Our People
The inaugural Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) Staff Excellence Award was presented to Kelly Demand, project director for College Affordability Programs. The award heralds the OAE team member whose exceptional contributions have recently advanced student success, and who exemplify the characteristic spirit of its community. Over the past year, Demand proved to be instrumental in securing a BECU partnership through her leadership of OAE’s college affordability programs, completed the process of becoming WSU Pullman’s only accredited financial counselor, and managed WSU’s largest emergency grant-aid program—the Crimson Community Grants—when COVID-19 disrupted spring semester. She recently completed her M.A. in English focusing on the rhetoric of financial literacy.