Wise Words from the VP, November 2017

Nov. 1, 2017

It’s so exciting when we receive affirmation that acknowledges the important work we do with students every day on the Forty Acres. Recently, UT Austin and the Gallup organization released a new report, “What Starts Here Changes the World: Examining the Outcomes and Experiences of Longhorn Alumni.” Various campus partners, including the Division of Student Affairs, worked collaboratively with Gallup during its Spring 2017 survey of university undergraduate alumni.

Gallup focused on five categories of well-being identified as purpose, social, financial, community and physical. These factors of well-being were defined by life moments such as fulfillment in daily work, strong social relationships, financial security and physical health.  Not surprisingly, Gallup found that being extremely involved in extracurricular activities is one of two undergraduate experiences that strongly correlates to the likelihood of alumni thriving in more of the well-being categories. This qualitative data reinforces the value of the daily work we do in Student Affairs and how it has long-range positive implications for alumni.

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Based on the report, a quarter of UT Austin alumni (25%) strongly agree that they were extremely active in extracurricular activities (national comparison, 19%). As well, the research also showed that students who identified themselves as involved in extracurricular activities tended to have stronger skills in life management, career planning, and cultural participation. While Gallup uses the term “extracurricular,” we have long considered these experiences “co-curricular” to illustrate how the work we do in Student Affairs is a collaboration with academic experiences.

The concept that engaging in student life experiences leads to the development of leadership skills, job preparation, and life lessons, is not new. However, seeing data that supports our understanding of the importance of our roles in helping shape the college experience, strengthens our resolve and commitment to the work we do. Through the results of this UT Austin Gallup Alumni Report along with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) First-Destination Survey and the Association of American Colleges and University (AAC&U) VALUE Rubrics, I encourage you to explore  the positive outcomes that Student Affairs has on the success of our alumni.

I thank each one of you for helping to shape our students not only while on campus, but for their lifetime. This report reaffirms what we know; that what we do inspires our future leaders to change the world.

Hook ‘em,

Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students