Administrators aim to improve communication with students through office hours, but few students attend

Last Thursday, University of Oregon administrator Justine Carpenter sat in an empty boardroom waiting for students to arrive to her scheduled office hours. No students came.  

The UO administration is now offering office hours in an effort to improve communication with students through discussions this term. Every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m., one administrator will lead a topic-driven discussion with UO students in the EMU.

“People can talk about anything. The topic is just an entry point,” said Kris Winter, associate vice president and dean of students.

Past topics have included self care, general education requirements and promoting yourself on social media.

The new administration office hours are intended to connect students and administrators to build lasting relationships and foster productive communication.

The idea came from Winter after she went on a “listening tour” of various student groups last fall.

Winter sat in on nine different student groups, including Oregon Hillel and the Muslim Student Association, to hear what students were saying about their experiences at UO.

“I think that we can always improve communications between students and administration,” Winter said.

According to Winter, the majority of the feedback she received centered around the fact that students did not feel like they knew their administrators.

“This came up fall term. I wanted to be responsive to a tangible ‘ask’ that I heard from some students. That’s why I chose to put it into action this term,” Winter said.

Winter sent out emails to UO administrators to see if they would be interested in hosting office hours for students. She received several positive responses from administrators that wanted to participate.

Carpenter, director of multicultural and identity-based support services, held office hours on Feb. 1 on the topic of “having difficult conversations.”

“I think that having difficult conversations is something that all of us may have to do at one time or another,” Carpenter said.

No students attended these office hours.

According to Winter, these office hours have had low student attendance. She hopes to engage more students and invites them to come to the coming hours.

One way to improve attendance, according to Carpenter, is to offer more incentives to the students, such as free snacks or topics they can connect with.

Carpenter said that either “students aren’t identifying with the topics or they just don’t know that these topics are being discussed.”

Winter has reached out to students through advertising in Quick Quack emails that all students receive. She is open to student suggestions and input for topic selection and increased student involvement.

“I think it’s important for students to know that administrators care about their UO experience,” Winter said.


Schedule for February’s office hours

Administrator Date    Topic
Justine Carpenter  2/1    Having difficult conversations
Renae DeSautel  2/7    Helping a fellow student in distress
DJ Kelly-Quattrocchi  2/8    Code switching: How do identities impact communication?
Cora Bennett  2/14    Student transitions to the UO
Marcus Langford  2/15    Looking for feedback: UO bias response efforts
Doneka Scott  2/21    What is student success?
Laurie Woodward  2/22    Listening session: How can the EMU improve services for you?
Sheryl Eyster  2/28     Developing meaningful connections with staff and faculty


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