January 2020
Letter from Lyn
I hope each of you took time to rest and connect with family and friends over the holiday break. I have come back refreshed and energized for this semester. At this time of year, we reflect on past accomplishments, changes, and challenges and ready ourselves to meet the New Year full of optimism. It is out of that optimism that we adopt mantras and make resolutions. We review the missed opportunities of our past and promise to actively and positively participate in the challenges of our future.

As I cast my retrospective gaze over the last year, I see many successes, including the soon-to-be-open Bengal Welcome Center, a full-time position dedicated to marketing for the division, a Benny’s Pantry on the Meridian Campus, hiring an Executive Director of Central Academic Advising, the restructuring of NSO and Freshmen Registration, and the development of a comprehensive program for our first year students. These successes would not have been possible without a team of hardworking, positive people. As with all endeavors, we still have room to grow. Slowly, but surely, we strive to do better each day.

You might see where this is going and think, “Aha, this is where Lyn is going to challenge me to make a resolution,” but you would be wrong. I am going to challenge you to set a goal. A resolution, by definition, is a firm decision to do or not to do something, while a goal is defined as the object of a person’s ambition or effort—an aim or desired result. On the surface, it might seem like resolutions and goals are the same thing; however, I find that goals engage us in planning, preparing, and taking action to achieve our desired outcomes.

In the spirit of the season, with ambition and optimism urging us on and room to grow in front of us, I challenge each of you to set a goal. Whether it be personal, professional, or spiritual, take the steps necessary to plan, commit to, and work on your goal. Envision what your life will look like as a result of achieving your goal, taking steps to achieve your goal, realizing that setbacks are inevitable, and rallying yourself to continue moving forward. Creating goals helps us focus our energy, improve our path, and develop ourselves, and I can see no better path for moving forward into the New Year. 
The Benny Awards: Celebrating Extraordinary Individuals
At Idaho State University, we have an incredible number of intelligent, inspiring, dedicated people who have made enormous efforts to truly make ISU the place to be. These individuals tend not to seek praise or recognition. Rather, they strive to make a difference because they love ISU and want to improve the student experience. The Benny Awards were created as a way to celebrate and honor these individuals and their contributions.

The Benny Awards began as ASISU’s End of the Year Banquet at which they celebrated their accomplishments and welcomed incoming officers. Lowell Richards, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, worked to expand it and turn it into something more encompassing of the university, something that would celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of students, clubs, staff, and faculty. Thus, the Benny Awards became a new ISU tradition. This year, on April 20, 2020, Student Affairs will be honored to host the 3 rd annual Benny Awards.

Benny Award recipients are nominated by those who notice their hard work and contributions. There are 11 award categories for which students, clubs, faculty, and staff may be nominated, including Outstanding Event, Graduate Student Leader, Undergraduate Student Leader, Exemplary Service, Roar Bengal Roar Spirit Award, Inspirational Bengal, Outstanding Student Organization, Faculty Member, Staff Member, Distinction in Student Affairs, and Alumnus. Recipients of these awards, as well as those who nominated them, are invited to a formal dinner, where nominees are acknowledged and celebrated. Last year, Staci Phelan received the Award of Distinction in Student Affairs.

We invite you to nominate extraordinary individuals who contribute toward the success of students and of Idaho State University. Nominate your colleagues, students, and those you know and admire by Friday March 6, 2020. Nomination forms can be found at https://www.isu.edu/bennyawards/.
Staff Spotlight
If you have not had the opportunity to work with the person in this month’s staff spotlight, you may be new to campus because our featured staff member this month is as much a staple of ISU as Benny himself. For 34 years, Val Davids, Student Activities Coordinator, has been a positive, energetic, and delightful presence at ISU.  

What do you do on campus?
I have had many roles on campus, all of which involve student engagement. I currently advise the Student Activities Board, Student Organizations, Greek Life, and Club Graphics. I also have the pleasure of planning the ISU Summer Concerts series held on the quad lawn every Thursday night during the summer.

How long have you worked for ISU?
I am always excited to tell people that I have been working for ISU for 34 years. I am often asked when I will retire, and I am pretty sure I have been telling people that I will retire in the next four years for at least the last eight.

What has been your favorite experience at ISU?
When you have been here as long as I have, it is incredibly difficult to narrow experiences down to just one favorite. I may have to mention two. I truly enjoy working with students and watching them succeed personally and professionally. As an advisor, there is no greater reward than seeing a student succeed! I would have to say my next favorite is relationships I have built here. Some of the students and staff have become my dearest friends. 

  What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to spend my spare time in the company of my friends and family. I enjoy working in my garden and designing my flower beds. I enjoy Pocatello, and I am particularly fond of hiking the hills around our wonderful town. For those of you who may have spotted me in my noon workout gear, you may have already guessed that I also love Zumba.

If you could do or be anything for a day, what would you choose?
I was split between two things, but after about 20 seconds of thought, I narrowed it down to just one. I would like to be a roadie for Def Leppard.

What is your favorite thing about your department?
My favorite thing is the community we have built for students. We are very student-centered, and we have the opportunity to engage with incredibly diverse student populations. We assist students, so they come regularly for meetings to find out the answers to questions a nd sometimes just because we are a comfortable place to hang out and play chess.

Who is your leadership inspiration?
My leadership inspiration is not just a single person, but a collection of many individuals who have inspired and encouraged me.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
I love to organize my planner. I currently have the Happy Planner. It’s a place where I can create and decorate to my heart’s content. Some might know that I am a planner, but honestly it is something I really enjoy. Don Paulson, the former director of Counseling and Testing, used to say that some people will put something they have already done on their list just so they can see it and cross it off. I would have to say I am definitely that type of person and planner.

What are you most excited or passionate about?
I’m passionate about learning new things. My daughter and I recently attended a Pinners conference in Utah. This conference featured over 100 Pinterest-based workshops. I was able to attend workshops ranging from traveling abroad to meal planning. I feel learning something new enriches my life in many aspects.

What would you like people to know about you?
I would like people to know I truly enjoy my life!

What is currently your favorite show on Netflix?
I don’t have the internet so I am not aware of what is on Netflix. Recently, my friend hooked my TV up with a digital antenna though, and I have found I really like watching “This Is Us”…and MeTV has some great reruns of “Bonanza.”  
Changes in Academic Advising
In November, Corey Zink became the Executive Director of Academic Advising. For the past six years, Corey has been working as the Director of Student Services for the College of Technology. During his tenure in COT, the retention rate increased to 82% and the graduation rate to 70% among COT students. In his new role, Corey is focused on unifying advising efforts across campus and making the campus community aware of the impact advising has on student retention and persistence. 

One of the biggest hurdles in academic advising is getting students to meet with an advisor. Typically, students don’t seek out an advisor until there is a problem. Corey hopes to redirect efforts to engage students in seeking the assistance of an advisor well before a problem or emergency arises. In an effort to improve this relationship, students will be assigned an advisor as part of the admission process, and this advisor will remain with the student throughout their educational career. This first-point-of-contact process should enable the student and advisor to begin forming a relationship before the student’s first day on campus. Corey is also developing an Academic Advisor training program, which can be used to create consistency for students and support for advisors, and an Advising Best Practices resource that can be utilized by all academic advisors.

In addition to these new initiatives, Corey is working with Freshmen Registration and New Student Orientation to develop mandatory advising sessions that will become part of the completely revamped New Student Orientation set to begin this summer. In conjunction with all of these efforts, Central Academic Advising is also welcoming the Athletic Advisors into their office space located in the Museum building. According to Corey, this move just makes sense—not just for the support of the students, but also the advisors.  
The Career Center would like to highlight the Career & Life Planning (COUN1150) class , which is offered each semester. This class is especially helpful for students who are undecided, but is valuable for all students as it helps them
1. Make confident major/program and career decisions
2. Take helpful career assessments
3. Research occupations and careers
4. Clarify areas including interests, personality, values, and skills
5. Have access to fantastic online career guidance programs like FOCUS2
6. Review job outlook and hiring trends
7. Build a professional resume
Beginning in January, Counseling and Testing is promoting a semester-long mental health awareness project for the entire campus community through the art of origami called "Senbazuru: 1000 Paper Cranes." Japanese folklore says that the crane lives to be 1,000 years old. This tradition says that, if you fold 1,000 origami cranes, your hope/wish/prayer will be granted. We will be hosting tables throughout the semester at which the campus community will be invited to write a wish and fold it into a crane to add to an installation that will be displayed in May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. Sometimes it takes an entire community to come together to make one wish come true. Please join us by folding a crane to add to this installation as a symbol of community, hope, and help. Let us know if you would like to participate. We will supply you with paper and instructions.

Housing would like to extend a sincere thank you to staff members who volunteered at the Late Night Breakfast in Turner. This annual event was a huge success with 210 students attending and 10 staff members volunteering!

New Student Orientation is hosting three open forums for faculty and staff. The forums will present an overview of the summer 2020 New Student Orientation programs and provide the opportunity for faculty and staff to give feedback to the orientation team. No RSVP is needed.
Tuesday, January 14
2 p.m., Wood River room

Thursday, January 16
4 p.m., Wood River room

Friday, January 17
11 a.m., Wood River room

Sandra Carrillo, TRIO McNair Scholar and TRIO SSS participant, has been awarded a fellowship from the American Political Science Association (APSA). She is one of 12 scholars in the US to receive this fellowship. Sebastian Madrigral and Joselynn Castillo, TRIO SSS participants, have been accepted to the INBRE program for summer 2020.

In December, TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) submitted an Annual Performance Review to the Department of Education for the 2018-2019 academic year. The program exceeded all of its objectives and is happy to report that 85% of our students persisted from one year to the next, 91% of the students served achieved good academic standing, and 31% of those served received their Bachelor's degree within 6 years.
Student Affairs and Enrollment Management | isu.edu/studentaffairs