Caroline Wilkerson ~ Staff Writer
Dr. Aaron Smith, the new Vice President and Dean of Student Development at the University of Lynchburg, has a vision for a collaborative student experience on the Central Virginia campus..
According to the University of Lynchburg website, “University of Lynchburg President, Dr. Kenneth R. Garren, announced the decision Monday in emails to students, faculty, and staff. Dr. Smith had served in an interim role since May 21, 2019.”
Dr. Smith said, “I want the students of the University of Lynchburg to know who their representative is. Afterall, I am working on behalf of the students. I want the students to be heard, and I am excited to have the opportunity to do that.”
He indicated that he was currently assessing the current campus landscape as it pertains to student life. Smith said, “I must first assess situations before implementing anything. However, one thing that we have been working on is creating an environment that is not only beneficial to students in the classroom, but outside the classroom too. We are doing this by adopting the strategies of NACE 8. We believe this will help set our students apart and give them the most well-rounded experience.”
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 8 helps to identify the competencies that are needed for “career readiness.” According to the NACE website, the eight key competencies include: critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, digital technology, leadership, professionalism and work ethic, career management, and global and intercultural fluency.
Smith continued, “We plan on using the NACE 8 during school sponsored events, to help develop and expand students’ competencies, in-and-out of the classroom, and prepare them for the world outside of college.”
Students around campus have indicated that some of the issues that are at the top of their list of campus improvements.
Senior, Elissa Presslein, said, “I know who Dean Smith is because I went to get a t-shirt on Friday, after an email was sent out. He was very excited to meet all of the students and just wanted to get to know everyone, which I feel is very important in someone who is representing the students. The main thing that I want and that needs to be changed on campus is parking. It sucks getting home from work at 10:30 p.m. and having to park far away from my house.”
Elizabeth Gerhart, also a senior, said, “Dr. Smith is our dean of students. I would love for the dean of students [to] create more social programs for the students on the campus and help to administer the parking issue around campus as well. I think it would be a great idea to plan a concert based off the students votes to create more engagement in our campus life.”
Smith said, “We are all for listening to our students. I will share everything with you, unless President Garren asks me not to, but overall I am very transparent. I want to make sure the students are being heard. If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact the Office of Student Development, the Student Government Association (SGA), and even myself directly, and I will try my best to solve the situation.”