Some service offices relocated to Campus Life Building

By Kurt Bitting

DeKALB — Several offices providing student services and support have moved to different locations, altering what can be found in the Campus Life Building.

Dean of Students Kelly Wesener Michael said the moves are part of a broader plan to enhance the student experience.

The Disability Resource Center, Students’ Legal Assistance and Testing Services offices have been relocated within the Campus Life Building. Other offices are set to move but have not yet done so.

Wesener Michael said the moves are part of the Holmes Student Center project to centralize student resources.

Renique Kersh, associate vice provost of student engagement and success, said moving student service offices to the Campus Life Building is directly tied to moving student leadership groups to Holmes Student Center and the academic services into the Founders Memorial Library to improve the student experience.

“The move itself can’t really be seen in a vacuum because it’s part of a larger strategic vision to enhance the student experience,” Kersh said. “So the reenvisioning of the Campus Life Building and the collocation of student services [are] considered an expansion of the center of campus.”

Wesener Michael said the process of moving student service offices to the Campus Life Building began when the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development moved to the Holmes Student Center to work more closely with other student organizations.

“It’s an intentional effort by NIU to support student success, to end some confusion that is also called the Huskie shuffle and to really make sure that students have easy access to what they need to support their academic success here at NIU,” Wesener Michael said.

Wesener Michael said the office moves will allow students easy access to regularly-used student service offices. She said the moves also allow staff to collaborate in the same space to better serve students.

Cathy Doederlein, director of internships and external relationships, works in Career Services, a student service that is in the process of moving its offices within the same suite of the Campus Life Building.

Doederlein said conversations about the move started when the administration reached out to her department in September. She said Career Services received detailed documents about the next steps in the project in November and December.

“It’s still very much in the working stages, so there’s been communication going on all through the semester among administration and leadership as well as within the leadership of the individual offices to discuss every office’s individual needs and what their best outcome would be,” Doederlein said.

Doederlein said some offices are seeing minor changes, being moved within their existing suites or to adjacent suites in the Campus Life Building, while some, like the Disability Resource Center and the CHANCE program office, are being moved from a different building. She said she expects the Career Services office will complete its relocation by the end of spring break.

Kersh said she and Mike Stang, assistant vice president of student affairs, were tasked with creating a set of goals for how to decide where each office should be moved. She said the three goals they set were to move departments in a way that would facilitate collaboration, to account for student access to key services and to identify welcoming, accessible spaces that prompted meaningful interactions and a sense of community.

Kersh said some offices were already located in suites that aligned with the goals they set, while others needed to move to locations where they would be able to collaborate more easily with different offices.

Kersh said the relocation of student service offices ties into the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan because a big part of it is thinking about how to enhance the student experience.

“We wanted to provide a space for students who might not know exactly where to go, don’t know the university or have multiple, complex needs,” Wesener Michael said.