Embedded in the Division of Students’ strategic plan are seven values: respect, excellence, innovation, collaboration, accountability, care and inclusion. Individually and collectively, these values — nested deeply within those of York University as a whole — reflect who we are and who we aspire to be.
In this context, care is both a noun (serious attention applied to doing something correctly) and a verb (to feel concern; to look after and provide for the needs of). Both uses are central to fulfilling our vision to be “Partners in Student Success.” Demonstrating care — by being thoughtful and considered in what we do and how we do it — is fundamental to engagement and success. In a nutshell, students excel when they believe that people are attending to their needs and are invested in their well-being.
In recent years, campus colleagues have been testing a number of hypotheses about how to support students who are at risk of failing a course or becoming academically ineligible to continue. Faculty leaders in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science and in the Department of Biology, for example, have twinned early alert systems with a suite of academic-recovery interventions. A number of Colleges — including Bethune, Calumet and Stong — have implemented an array of retention initiatives, including peer mentoring and supplemental instruction. These efforts reflect York’s commitment to fostering student success. At the end of the day, however, here is what ongoing assessment has revealed: academic performance is positively impacted by even the smallest expression of interest and concern.
We show that concern by making available to students invaluable services through departments such as Counselling & Disability Services, the Office of Student Community Relations, York’s RED Zone and Registrarial Services, and in partnership with other important on-campus partners (i.e. Learning Commons, Community Safety, dean’s offices). We can and must, however, also demonstrate that interest in our everyday interactions by listening to students, showing empathy, coaching them toward solutions or simply greeting them with a smile.
Caring matters and must continue to guide our work.