Our three-day visit at Fanshawe College, from February 13-15, was characterized by a warm welcome by the campus community. The Valentine’s Day enthusiasm was felt throughout the campus where decorations of hearts, red roses, and chocolates were displayed throughout the buildings. Instantly upon our arrival we felt welcomed. We stopped by the visitor’s kiosk to ask for directions to our first destination and were greeted by a friendly assistant who kindly pointed us to the right direction. As we walked through campus, we witnessed a very lively environment: when we peaked into the culinary classes students were devotedly decorating what seemed to be delicious pastries; we witnessed students working in the editing room using high technology equipment; and we had the opportunity to enjoy the amazing cardboard display located in the H building. On Valentines, we enjoyed more food than we could handle at the Out Back Shack Bar and Grill, where they had an incredible two can dine three-course meal for $25.
Our three-day visit allowed us the opportunity to experience a little piece of the everyday life of students at Fanshawe. During our interviews with students, staff, faculty, and administrators we learned about the innovative and supportive programs that make Fanshawe College unique. We learned about the Learning Centre, which provides academic assistance to students in math, English, ESL, and sciences, as well as teaches students effective study skills. We heard from students and faculty that staff in the learning center are extremely dedicated and talented individuals who truly care about and value students’ success. We also heard from students about the Mentoring for Success program, a mentoring program that partners Fanshawe alumni with current students. The role of Student Success Advisors (SSA) was also highlighted as extremely influential by students, faculty, and administrators in helping students navigate their academic careers and disseminating information about campus resources. In almost all of our interviews, we heard about the SSAs and all the great work they are doing to support student success.
During our interviews we learned about students’ experiences and how they perceive the organizational structure helping them succeed and what they believe Fanshawe can do to further enhance their experiences. Students highlighted many of their experiences in the programs mentioned above, but also commented on the positive role their peers have on their educational success. Some of the peers they mentioned were Fanshawe’s Student Union Executives (FSU) who have displayed great leadership in representing student needs and providing support.
Faculty and staff shared with us their experiences serving students and how they perceived the college changing, both structurally and demographically. Administrators of the college shared that Fanshawe is committed to providing “bridges, ramps and ladders” for students to access the programs that align with their educational goals. One of the ways that Fanshawe supports student success is by supporting professional development of its faculty through the College Educator Development Program. This multi-year program involves fives other western Ontario colleges and is designed to help new college faculty improve the teaching and learning experience for them and their students.
From our conversations with various administrators, faculty, and staff we could sense that Fanshawe is a student-focused institution, where students are at the center of the institution and where everyone strives to provide the best opportunities to their students.
It was a pleasure visiting Fanshawe College, and our visit gave us the opportunity to meet with a range of passionate individuals working together to make Fanshawe an institution devoted to supporting student success. Thank you to all of those who participated in our focus groups and interviews, and to those who helped us coordinate our visit!