Well, well, well…wellbeing!

The January 8th Professional Development workshop was a fun one for me. The work for the past six years with so many great people on campus with StrengthsQuest was finally going to have the anchor it needed – a talented presenter from the Gallup organization to ground this conversation in discussions about the relationship that StrengthsQuest has to Wellbeing, Hope and Engagement. The conversation inside my head shouted excitement! Most of the division was going to be there! We were going to focus on using these tools to facilitate student success! We were going to have leaders from across campus also joining us! How fantastic! One quick pause… I’ve seen this presenter before. How different could it actually be?

What was different was the conversation in my own head as I was making meaning of the information he shared.  Yes, the five areas of wellbeing are still Career/Purpose, Social, Financial, Physical and Community wellbeing.  Yes, I can still see the areas I need to work on glaring at me like a neon sign.  What else could possibly be a take away?

The mic drop came from the presenter when he reminded us,

“Strengths Finder was never created for self-awareness.  Strengths Finder was created to be actionable.”

BOOM. The connection between my “Top 5” and Wellbeing is just that.  My “Top 5” (Futuristic, Individualization, Communication, Ideation, Activator) is the “how” for improving wellbeing. My task as someone looking to lead her best and most authentic life possible is to figure out how to deploy my talents to make things better. Sign. Me. Up.

When looking at how to use this knowledge in my work, I find this incredibly empowering. When Wellbeing is off, a focus on Strengths will give someone a way to highlight their existing potential to take action and make things better. (yes, this is my “Activator” theme smiling at you). An instrument like Strengths Finder helps give language to what a person may easily already know, but formalizing language to describe it makes using it to take action so much easier.

It may make me unpopular, but I’ll say it out loud. Work/life balance conversations have made me tired over my years in the field. I’m energized by this conversation, however. It helps remind me that I have the ability to take action to improve my Wellbeing and, in turn, improve my quality of life.

Dr. Cindy Kane is the Director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

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Mind Full, or Mindful?


Prior to becoming a graduate assistant in New Student and Family Programs here at BSU, I had never been exposed to the inner workings of what it meant to be a Student Affairs Professional.  Through the generosity of the department, I was given the opportunity to attend the NASPA Region 1 Conference 2014 in Newport, RI to gain some insight into the world of Student Affairs. Having been my first conference where I was among fellow graduate students and working professionals, I found it somewhat overwhelming at first to acclimate to the pace of the conference while simultaneously attempting to absorb all the knowledge I could.

For me, it was the first session on the second day of the conference that had the most impact, not only on the rest of my experience at the conference, but my life going forward.  “The Mindful SAP (Student Affairs Professional),” facilitated by Anne Hopkins Gross, Dean of Students at Southern Vermont College was an inspiring session about the importance of being mindful, of being present, and of learning how essential it is to let things go.  As Anne mentioned, “Are the little things really going to matter in a day, a week, a month, or a year?”

Prior to this conference, I found myself more “mind full” than “mindful,” and still do most days.  I am thankful to this session for exposing me to the difference between the two however, as it allowed me to be more present for the rest of the conference, make great connections, and have a lot of fun.

As a result of the “Mindful SAP” session I have adapted the mantra of “let it go” used in times of stress (immediately followed by the entire Frozen rendition on repeat in my head).   Embracing a more mindful lifestyle has led me to become less overwhelmed by new experiences and more prepared to engage myself in the opportunity.  In just a few short months, I have noticed a tremendous difference in my composure from working my first August Orientation (pre-conference) where I felt a little out of place to January Orientation (post-conference) where I felt self-assured and completely present.  I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this NASPA conference and learn just how important mindfulness and personal wellbeing is to the one’s success not only this field, but in life as well.

*above image obtained from Anne Hopkins Gross “The Mindful SAP” presentation.

Kristin Fratoni

Graduate Assistant, Office of New Student and Family Programs

Bridgewater State University

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Winner Takes Fall

A competition to see who has it worse? Who would want to train for such a thing? Surprisingly, many people engage in what is called the “Oppression Olympics” and I urge you to watch this thought-provoking 2 minute long video about it. Go ahead; I’ll be here when you get back.

Last week I was in Denver at Creating Change, the nation’s largest LGBT conference. While there, I listened to the unfortunate frustrations of my peers — other directors of GLBT resource centers in higher education — who contend regularly with people playing the above-referenced games. My peers confided that colleagues, administrators, and students question their commitment to GLBT equity and inclusion when my colleagues express solidarity with non-GLBT disenfranchised populations.  These directors have heard accusations such as, “You’re diluting GLBT advocacy when you direct your resources to ending [fill in the blank with oppressed group] oppression!” and  “Why do you help them when they don’t help us?”

There’s no question where BSU stands on issues of social justice, diversity, and community building.  To see the importance and priority we give to diversity, we need only point to our mission, strategic plan, learning goals, and successes like closing the achievement gap. But more than that we have a spirit, a heart, in our community that connects and sustains us as we strive toward greater social justice.

At the conference, colleagues looked to me to see how we “do it at Bridgewater.” I proudly talked about collaborations between my students and the students of Men Integrated in Brotherhood — men who are confident enough in their masculinity and sexuality to not feel threatened to stand with those who hold gender and sexual identities different from their own.  I spoke about how I worked with Sydne Marrow of the Center of Multicultural Affairs to develop P.E.A.C.E. — a promising new program for student leaders designed to foster cross-cultural competence and empathy.  And I talked about the support of our institutional leaders. We would not be nearly as successful as we are at building coalition among diverse student populations without the commitment of folks like (in alphabetical order) Fred Clark, Sabrina Gentlewarrior, Sydne Marrow, Dana Mohler-Faria, Richardson Pierre-Louis,  Jason Pina….I could go on; and I haven’t even mentioned the countless faculty members and students who live and breathe social justice.

This mutual joining together around social justice makes up the soul of who we are at BSU. Rather than competing to “turn the tables” of oppression, we heed Audre Lorde’s advice and we work together– differences and all– to dismantle the master’s house using the tools of shared power, knowledge, and commitment to peace.

Lee Forest is the director of the GLBTA Pride Center

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2 conferences, 7 days, 6 students, 9 hours in a van and I lived to tell about it

…by Meg Dumaine, Resident Director

Two conferences within seven days. One with students in Syracuse, NY and one with professional staff in Newport, RI. Exhausting and daunting are two words that describe my mentality as prepared for this as well as… you volunteered for one knowing the conflict. Energized and fulfilled are two words to describe my mentality on day 8. Let me take a few steps back and provide a bit of background information.


I started at BSU in June 2014. I knew I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity so I could prepare for the next step. A few weeks after I started; my director, Beth Moriarty, asked the department to prepare professional development plans and preferences. NASPA has always been my organization and conference of choice, so of course this is what I submitted. A short time later I was approved to go to NASPA Region 1 November 16-19 in Newport, RI. Fast forward a few months, RHA was looking for an advisor to take a delegation to NEACURH Regionals in Syracuse, NY…. November 14-16. This was it. An opportunity to reconnect with an organization I love- if you’ve ever seen 300+ college students cheering to Marty the moose you know what I mean- as well as the ability  to connect with BSU students in a different format. A perfect opportunity. I spent time thinking about it and was asked by my supervisors if that that was truly manageable. I came back to one answer: it’s going to be exhausting but can I say no? Would I regret it? The answer was easy… absolutely, yes!


The six days of conferences were amazing. I can only think of a handful of times professionally when I have felt that fulfilled and invincible. NEACURH (the student conference) started off interestingly; a six-hour drive with 6 students, all with various needs and musical interests. On hour three we hit a snag, music. My solution, let’s practice our cheering for the conference. The response was moans and groans but like good sports, they did it and didn’t stop for three days. They attended sessions, made new friends and made critical assessments on how they (and RHA) could be more effective. The ride home was filled with conversations about future involvement and recounting the weekend. A new bond was formed within this group and I hope the momentum will gain as the next conference approaches in March.


Have you experienced the conference excitement?  Were you able to jot your thoughts down afterward and put them into action?


Meg Dumaine is a Resident Director at the Great Hill Student Apartments.

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Assess assess assess… but HOW?

There’s a lot of talk about assessment lately, and for very good reason.  How do you know if what you’re doing is working if you’re not assessing it?

Cathy Holbrook held a session helping those of us figure out just where to begin and what to know when assessing our programs.  Read on for the recap of that session:

The Assessment Cycle is representative of implementing methods to deliver outcomes and methods to gather data.   This provides a platform to gather data and interpreting evidence, which ultimately provides information in order to make decisions to improve/enhance STUDENT centered learning and development.   The Assessment Cycle is an ongoing process that involves the collection of data to help us assess whether the programs we offer deliver the outcomes we intend. The cycle comes full circle when we interpret the evidence our gathered data provides and make decisions to improve or enhance student centered learning in that program.   It also provides information to plan, budget, set policies, and provide public/ transparent accountability.  At the heart of the cycle is our departmental mission, purpose, and goals from which we develop the specific outcomes.

There are a few key questions that you need to ask when performing assessments. For example, asking  “what are we trying to do – and WHY?” as well as “how well is this program helping students achieve the intended outcomes”.

Goals are the end result, in broad terms.  Objectives are the intended effect of a program. The outcome is the end result of the program.  Learning outcomes are the desired learning effect of a program, and are Participant centered – what the student learns, not just what we are trying to teach them.  Program outcomes help you measure the operational effectiveness of the program.

Good outcome statements are action verbs that translate intentions into action and are measurable. A common way of describing a good outcome is the term , SMART Outcome, which  means :  Specific, measurable, aggressive but attainable, results – oriented, and time-bound. Bloom Action Verbs are a good tool to assist the outcome writing because they give you action verbs at the appropriate level of learning.     (Handouts for these action verbs, Wheel of action Verbs, Bloom, and Affective Domains).

Here are a few examples of good and not so good Learning Outcome statements:

  1. NOT AN OUTCOME: “The workshop will increase students’ appreciation of Diversity.”

GOOD OUTCOME:  “As a result of attending the workshop, students will be able to identify three similarities and three differences they have with someone of a different background. (Illustrates understanding).

  1. NOT AN OUTCOME: “Students will be able to be better leaders because they were RA’s”.

GOOD OUTCOME:  “As a result of being employed as an RA, these students will demonstrate servant leadership behaviors”.   (Illustrates Application).

There are two formulas commonly used to  develop learning outcomes. One formula is the ABC approach:

_________   __________   _____________         _________________ Condition            Audience             Behavior                         Degree of Achievement  (Optional)

Another easy method to develop learning outcomes is SWiBAT

Learning Outcome = SwiBAT + Bloom Word + Condition

SwiBAT stands for “Students will be able to..”  Example: Students will be able to differentiate between two styles of leadership, as a result of participating in the Leadership Institute.

A major challenges to writing learning outcomes lies in the use of more than one outcome in a sentence, or making them more complicated than they need to be.

Basically, start out with simple statements of what your goals are for the assessment, utilizing a few of them.  Keep in mind that they sometimes take many drafts, and is best if reviewed by others before final draft.

This was a very helpful, informative presentation. Huge “thank you” to Cathy Holbrook for her expertise!  If anyone has questions about writing learning outcomes, Cathy is available at:


Cathy Davis – note taker.

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What part of your identity are you covering at BSU?

If you haven’t been to one of the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Lunchtime series workshops, you are missing out!  Missing out on great food, great company and rich discussion.

I have attended a few of the Diversity Lunchtime sessions and a few of the Supporting the Success of Female Employees sessions.  In October, I attended one of the later sessions and saw that it was titled “Uncovering Authentic Leadership.”  This title, admittedly confused me a bit – I was curious what it could possibly mean to uncover authentic leadership.

After eating a delicious meal, we viewed this video: Uncovering Authentic Leadership (it’s about 15 minutes long, but so worth the watch).

In it, the speakers, who are all pretty well respected leaders, speak about parts of their identities that they have covered to get ahead in their careers.  But more importantly, they talk about how successful they were once they actually uncovered those aspects of their identity.

One woman really spoke to me when she talked about her responsibility as a working mother.   She stated that balancing the duties of mom and leader at work were an area in which she often struggled – she expressed that there were times at work in which she felt the need to cover the “mother” identity.

Another woman’s story hit me when she spoke about a family member having a medical emergency, and she needed to take time out of work to be there for that family member.  At first, she was ashamed, or felt the need to hide the fact that she was not going to make it to a very important day of work because she was concerned for and needed to be by the side of a sick family member.  This hit home for me specifically as I just experienced a similar situation where my father’s fairly routine knee replacement turned into a terrible scare – where we (and his doctors) did not think he would live to recover from heart complications that happened in the middle of that surgery.  I tried to pull my emotions together enough to come to work and get my job done (it was a very busy time for this Housing Operations Assistant Director) but luckily, my supportive colleagues and boss realized the need for my family responsibilities to trump my work responsibilities.

I put out on social media what my father was going through and asked for prayers for our family – I knew that many of my BSU colleagues would see it.  I knew this would uncover a few things about myself – I needed help, I was a Christian, and I was not as “put together” as I wanted people to think I was.

I have to tell you – I was very touched to have so many of you ask how my family was doing when you saw me after that.  I had so many of you tell me that you had been through something similar and would be here for me if I needed to chat.  I had many visitors come to make sure I was ok – clearly that wasn’t why I posted what I did, but I was so thankful for that response.

I formed some great connections through uncovering that part of me – and many of you still ask about my dad – deepening that connection.

There are a few areas of my identity that I realized I do cover while working here – but one thing really resounded for me as a result of this session was that BSU is a working environment that allows me to be me, to my own comfort level, and supports me for the authentic person that I am – and I appreciate that so much.



Amanda Surgens is the Assistant Director for Housing Operations in Residential Life and Housing

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Make the most of Technology!!

Friends, if you like speakers like Doris Kearns Goodwin (or Clay Christensen, whom we’ll be adding to the offerings), or ideas that make the most of tech, you may really like this.

We are co-hosting a selection of scheduled sessions from the 2014 Educause conference, thanks to a partnership between Information Technology and the Office of Teaching and Learning, viewable via live broadcasts.

To see sessions we’ll offer and their times and locations, register with us online (deadline Fri. Sep. 26th) at:


And be prepared to share your thoughts with other BSU attendees at each session!

You’ll find full conference schedule and session descriptions on the attached virtual conference agenda.

We hope you can join us!

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