Communique Article on Communication in Student Affairs and Services Divisions

The Fall issue of Communiqué, published by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), contains a short piece from our team about forms of communication in SAS divisions. This comes from our larger study of how formal and informal organizational structures support, and in some cases hinder, student success. We encourage everyone to check out the printed version, which should be in your offices now, or the online version of our article on page starting on page 12.

Five Forms of Communication.

1. Functional: The daily back and forth between people online, over the phone, in line for coffee, or while passing each other on campus that is vital to accomplishing your daily work.

2. Intentional: These are usually planned, face-to-face meetings with agendas designed for information sharing and relationship building and planning.

3. Town Halls: Like intentional communication, town halls are intentionally planned, but much less frequent. They were often used at the start of strategic planning exercises or to discuss significant changes or critical incidents in the division.

4. Underground Networks: These are communications between individual across the institution that occur without/despite no formal connection in the organizational chart. These networks help to obtain from individuals you have an “in” with quickly.

5. Little to None. This obviously is not a style, but at many institutions, we heard many instances of very poor, or a complete lack of communication. This could be between levels of a SAS division, across the division or with other parts of the institution. From the data, we recommend that individuals look at their “to-do” list and make intentional plans to meet with that individual or group of individuals you have been meaning too, but have not yet. Seek out working groups and committees within or outside your division to expand your underground network and to expand the awareness of your own departments work on campus. Finally, we encourage divisions and departments that have not used large-scale town halls to investigate them. The comments from the campuses and individuals who did participate were almost uniformly positive.

This is just a short summary of the longer article. We encourage you to seek out our article, as well as some of the other excellent pieces in the current issue of Communiqué. If you are not a CACUSS member, or are not sure if you have institutional membership, this is a chance to expand your network. Ask some of your colleagues and talk to someone in one of the student services or student affairs offices at your institution. Also, if you are interested in reading the full report, you can download it for free from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario website.


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