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As I review the division’s accomplishments over the past year and contemplate our future, I am reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein, "To look to the future, we must first look back upon the past."

Indeed, the division and I owe much to the former Associate Provost for Education and Student Life, Valerie T. West, EdD, who retired in March 2009.

During almost five years as Associate Provost for Education and Student Life, Dr. West established a new structure to bring together university-level student support services, and forged closer collaboration among college faculty and student support personnel.

Dr. West established many new and important initiatives including the Student Leadership Academy and the division’s staff recognition program. In addition, she was a strong leader in the areas of diversity and interprofessional education, bringing the National Coalition Building Institute to campus, and spearheading the Creating Collaborative Care (C3) initiative, which is at the center of our ten-year SACS accreditation reaffirmation. We will continue the initiatives Dr. West established, and her leadership has helped us move forward. We wish her happiness in this new phase of her life.

Since Dr. West’s retirement, we have continued toward excellence, as the theme of this report indicates—charting a new course. With Board of Trustees’ approval, we changed the division’s name to Education and Student Life (ESL), connoting a renewed sense of energy and a proactive approach to creating a positive learning environment at MUSC and helping students achieve their academic and professional dreams.

As our vision, mission, values and goals were meant to be living documents that respond to shifting needs and priorities, we will revisit these over the next year and make adjustments based on several beliefs. We believe the best educational outcomes are achieved when the student life mission is carefully aligned with the academic mission, and the values and skills taught through co-curricular activities are viewed as crucial to the professional growth of our students. This has led us to be fast at work developing a brand for student life that marks us as integral to students’ education and raises the prominence of MUSC’s educational mission. We are important advocates for students and their educations and important resources for all on campus about emerging issues in student life.

We prize an evidence-based and best-practices approach to programming and assessing our effectiveness. We believe all our activities should be assessed through an educational lens, and student life faculty and staff are best understood as teachers inside and outside the classroom. We will infuse scholarship into what we do, partnering with students to ensure their voices are heard. We will collaborate with our colleagues in the colleges to create a health-promoting environment on campus. We will also create new knowledge in the student affairs arena and carry our innovative practices to other institutions, creating a standard for others to follow.

I am honored and privileged to take the helm of the division of Education and Student Life and provide leadership to the extraordinary group of talented professionals whose expertise and dedication to excellence create a positive environment where tomorrow’s leaders can learn together. Thank you for your attention to our accomplishments and goals described in this report. We in Education and Student Life are thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon Dr. West’s legacy and chart a new course to the next level of excellence.

Darlene Shaw, PhD
Associate Provost for Education and Student Life
 

Set your course by the stars,
not by the lights of every passing ship.
- Omar Bradley

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