The below message was sent from James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and chair of the JED Steering Committee, on October 10, 2017.
Dear Undergraduate Students,
I am writing as chair of the Steering Group to give you an update on our Campus Assessment with the The Jed Foundation (JED), the nonprofit organization that has been helping us review and enhance our wellness efforts on campus.
Last week, members of our Steering Group, which includes students, faculty and staff, spent a half-day with representatives from JED Campus to hear their evaluation of the materials that we submitted last spring. The materials we submitted included responses to the standard JED-developed 120-question form asking us to describe our policies, programming, services and outreach that support student health and wellness, as well as our addition of proposals by the Columbia College Student Council, the Columbia Engineering Student Council, the General Studies Student Council and the Student Affairs Committee of the University Senate. The JED representatives also gave the Steering Group feedback from the two student focus groups and two faculty focus groups that we added to our Campus Assessment.
In looking at all of these materials, JED found that while we have many effective programs and policies, there were also areas that they could help us to enhance and strengthen. Below are several areas of focus they recommend:
emphasize a culture of care to address stress culture;
better coordinate and communicate our programs and offerings;
enhance the understanding of what Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) offers;
provide additional opportunities for students to find connection with peers, with advisers and with faculty;
give all community members the skills and knowledge necessary to identify, reach out to and refer students who may be struggling; and
evaluate and enhance space use on campus taking into consideration social space that every undergraduate can access.
Importantly, JED noted that students, faculty and staff have all demonstrated a genuine interest in engaging in this process to better the emotional well-being of our community. This is indeed something that so many of us on campus have been focused on and that we are committed to as an undergraduate community.
Based on our conversation, JED will be providing specific recommendations and actions to consider as we build a Columbia Strategic Plan. We will then determine what other partners we will need to participate in our work, and will, of course, continue to solicit feedback from all corners of our community. Over the next few years, JED will continue to help us track our progress and provide guidance. And when we have fully implemented the strategic plan that JED has helped us develop, we will participate in a post-assessment process with JED, which will include a consultation on how we can sustain the work that we have done with the organization and continue to implement best practices.
Our focus is on enhancing the Columbia experience for you and your classmates and for future students. I will update you as this process proceeds and encourage you to continue to connect with your advisers, your residential staff, Counseling and Psychological Services, and any other resources, should you need any support.
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education
cc: Peter J. Awn, Dean, School of General Studies
Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science