New Student Affairs programs seek to enhance experience for students

Katlyn Campbell

Iowa State University has introduced three new programs within the division of student affairs.

Student Affairs Fundraising, Student Health and Wellness and Assessment and Research were added at the beginning of the school year under the office of Martino Harmon, senior vice president for student affairs. 

Elizabeth McAllister, development officer for student affairs fundraising efforts, works closely with the ISU Foundation to secure and manage gifts donated to Iowa State.

“We work with alumni and supporters for those who are philanthropic and would like to give money to the university,” McAllister said.

The gifts received can support anything from the veteran center, greek life, the health center, counseling efforts and even financial aid.

“My work is centered around ensuring that students get not only an outstanding education but that financial need is not something that gets in the way of them achieving an Iowa State degree,” McAllister said.

McAllister travels regionally and to other states in search of potential donors and attends meetings on campus to widen her awareness of what students are doing on campus and what’s important to them.

With her new position as development officer, McAllister hopes that by bringing awareness about needs on campus she will be able to engage supporters and alumni in a way that they feel their gift is meaningful.

Another new program added this academic year is Student Health and Wellness.

Mark Rowe-Barth, director of student health and wellness, hopes to expand the program through collaborative efforts between faculty and students.

Because this particular division of student affairs has only been around for a few months, Rowe-Barth works primarily with student wellness manager Brian Vanderheyden.

Rowe-Barth oversees the development of a campus-wide wellness program that aims to engage other members of the Iowa State community, including wellness coordinator Stephanie Downs, who focuses on employee well-being, in order to broaden the work that they’re capable of accomplishing.

“Partnerships are critical in terms of engaging students and colleagues across campus to all be involved,” Rowe-Barth said.

Holistic wellness, health promotion and prevention programing are just a few topics that the new program hopes to address at Iowa State.

“The reason [the program] exists is because we know from a lot of research that student wellness is critical to student academic success, and retention and persistence to graduation,” Rowe-Barth said.

In mid-February to early March, an official launch of student wellness will take place with a ribbon cutting and open house. Its website and social media accounts will be launched, and the recruitment process for peer health educators will be announced.

The division of student affairs also launched an Assessment and Research program.

Matthew Pistilli, director of assessment and research, works with department heads and programing coordinators across the division of student affairs to prioritize what needs to be done to receive the best outcome for programs on campus.

The assessment and research program focuses on two separate concepts. With assessment, an understanding of what the student affairs departments are doing locally is evaluated. That can include analyzing a new program within the residence halls or looking at a program within the dean of students office.

“We’re going to assess [the program] to ensure that what we wanted to happen actually happened, and if it didn’t, where didn’t we hit that mark,” Pistilli said.

Within the assessment category, Pistilli looks at what was achieved, what can be improved and what students got out of the changes.

Research, however, is aimed at using those determined conclusions to apply them outside of local context.

“So if we did a research project here, the hope would be the results and the outcomes could be used by other institutions or other places,” Pistilli said.

Pistilli hopes to introduce the principles of co-curricular learning as the director. This essentially outlines what needs to be accomplished by and for students in order to leave Iowa State with the best knowledge possible.

As the only person within the student affairs assessment and research program at Iowa State, Pistilli also foresees more staff members coming on board and a doctoral student to work with in the fall.