New Office of Student Engagement Introduces New Opportunities

By Alex McIntyre / The Daily Wildcat  Kelly Maroney, a systems engineering major and senior engagement ambassador works at the front desk of the Office of Student Engagement in the Student Union Memorial Center on Thursday, Feb. 18. The new office had its
The Daily Wildcat | By Devon Walo | Published 02/19/16 9:00am | Updated 02/19/16 2:19pm

The UA opened the Office of Student Engagement in order to help UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s new university-wide initiative.

One of the main focuses of the initiative is to maintain an environment of 100 percent student engagement, according to the UA Never Settle website.

The office opened in October 2015, but held its grand opening last week. It is located on the main floor of the Student Union Memorial Center between Sabor and Core.

Senior coordinator for student engagement and head of the office, Alexis Rhyner, believes that this will be a beneficial environment where students can become more integrated into the UA.

“The campus really needed a hub where people could really connect with all of the experiential and learning engagement that happens on campus,” Rhyner said.

Through the total student engagement initiative, students are able to enroll in for-credit programs or non-credit engagement experiences that will transfer to their engagement records and go on their transcripts, according to Rhyner.

Kevin Bonine, UA professor in the College of Science and director of education-outreach and outreach initiatives, said engaging students outside of the classroom is not only an effective way to keep them at the university, but it also improves their educations and employabilities.

“The Office of Student Engagement is a fantastic resource for us to make UA students aware of opportunities that we have available at Bioshpere 2 and the College of Science,” Bonine said. “Specifically in the context of research internships, other internships and outreach opportunities.”

Committees and development teams around campus are used as liaisons to help direct students who are interested in getting involved outside of the classroom.

Alongside administration working within the Office of Student Engagement, Associated Students of the University of Arizona Sen. Andreas Zai gives a student’s perspective on what the program does.

“That’s where I come in,” Zai said. “As an ASUA Senator, we are obligated to sit on university committees that require a student representative.”

Members of the committee meet once a month to vote on programs that applied to be considered an engagement opportunity, according to Zai.

“Our main goal is to help students connect with engagement and experiential learning across campus,” Rhyner said. “Having this office and having this initiative is pretty innovative for a campus our size, so we want to make sure that we are here to support students and to give students that opportunity.”

Rhyner said they are still trying to get the word out about the new office, but they have kept busy thus far with students who are interested.