Written by Alyssa Wilson ~ Editor-in-Chief
Photo of President Alison Morrison Shetlar giving the welcome speech at Convocation on August 23, 2023. Photo taken by Logan Cantin.
Transformation, collaboration and innovation are the theme words for the 2023-2024 school year at the University of Lynchburg, according to President Alison-Morrison Shetlar.
She introduced the theme words at the annual opening breakfast and reinforced them in her convocation speech as she told stories of five alumni who were transformed by their time at Lynchburg.
She hopes to encourage current students to excel and connect with alumni who can support their transformation.
“The five people that I’ve chosen for this first set of conversations are people who had learning disabilities and overcame them because of their faculty and their staff. People who came in to be country western singers and changed to theater, and now have founded their own production company,” says Morrison-Shetlar.
Morrison-Shetlar hopes that by reinforcing those stories, she can inspire and encourage current Hornets.
One of the themes from the 2022-2023 school year was leadership, in which a Leadership Academy for faculty and staff was established and a Gallup Strengths pilot program launched.
For the 2023-2024 school year and beyond first-years in the General Studies 104 course will be taking a Gallup Strengths assessment to gauge their leadership skills. The goal is that in the next three years, the whole campus will be assessed on their Gallup Strengths.
As Morrison-Shetlar seeks to expand the leadership theme, collaboration is a central focus for her this year.
Morrison-Shetlar says, “A lot of what we do with the collaborations out in the community and in the institution makes us better and allows us to use our expertise to partner with our community and do whatever is needed.”
For example, there is a group of students working on a strategic plan for a local nonprofit. There are also groups of faculty and staff who are working to develop new programs, events and curricula for students.
“Everything we do is to enhance the student experience,” says Morrison-Shetlar.
The Student Development office has been working over the summer to give campus spaces back to students, and update other spaces, like the Turner weight room.
Associate Vice President for Student Development, Kristen Cooper says, “How do we ensure that students are taking care of themselves and that we’re providing resources to best support students through their tenure, as well as creating proactive opportunities and approaches to ensure students wellness?”
The office space in Hundley Hall that once served as the Housing and Residence Life office is now being given back to students in the form of the ‘Well Nest’.
The Well Nest will have a host of different opportunities for students that meet various needs including a game room space, coffee/tea station, herb garden, puzzles and board games.
There is also a meditation/zen space where students have the opportunity to pray, meditate or practice yoga.
In addition to this, the Well Nest has a designated study space that students can take advantage of. The space will be open 24/7 with card access.
Cooper recently shared an email with the campus that listed resources and spaces for student well-being and belonging.
“We want to make sure that a lot of students know that there are resources available for them on campus in the event that they are facing difficulties,” says Cooper.
Student Development is determined to provide resources and opportunities that will make students feel at home.
A Growing University
As the University continues to lean into the President’s pillar of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the university has devised a strategic plan to internationalize the university, starting with 77 international students who arrived this semester.
Although official enrollment numbers will not be released until 10 days after the start of the semester, Morrison-Shetlar says that the university has met and exceeded the goal for enrollment numbers.
Morrison-Shetlar shares that one of the biggest goals of student government is to engage more students with on-campus activities and events. A change happening this semester is the transition from an app called Presence, to Hornet Connect for easier registration for on-campus activities.
All events and information can be accessed here.