A new student advisory board is helping provide feedback on and guide implementation of academic initiatives at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Launched at the start of the fall 2017 semester, the Executive Vice Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board includes more than 20 Huskers representing every college and key unit at Nebraska. The group was organized by Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.
“In assuming the role of executive vice chancellor, it was important to me to stay connected to students and to be able to hear their concerns and ideas, so we formed the student advisory board,” Plowman said. “Our discussions are very casual and always happen around a meal.”
The students met with Plowman five times during the current academic year, exploring topics such as campus climate, student mental health needs and academic improvements. The meetings also served as a way for members to share best practices around leadership for college student advisory boards.
“I gathered lots of good student ideas about changes they would like to see on campus,” Plowman said.
While serving on the board has been an honor for the students, Plowman helped them realize at the start the importance of the group and the impact they could make on campus.
“I was very excited by the first meeting and the topics we covered,” said Ellie Blusys, a junior biochemistry major from Elkhorn. “Then, I was absolutely awestruck at the second one when I realized Dr. Plowman had already been working on making changes based on student input provided at the prior meeting.”
An initiative that students played a key role in is the development of a comprehensive plan for mental health programs. The project took root as a simple statement by a student, which grew to a broader, meeting-long discussion between the students and Plowman.
During that meeting, Claire Adams, a senior biochemistry and biology major from Omaha, briefly shared her own experiences and suggested improvements that could benefit all students.
“The highlight of the year was spending an entire meeting discussing how we can alleviate the issue of mental illness on our campus by getting students more access to resources they need,” Adams said. “It means the world to me that Dr. Plowman recognized how important this issue is.”
Adams said the formation of the group shows that Nebraska administrators value students and have a desire to supports to help students succeed.
“It’s clear to me that our tough experiences matter to Dr. Plowman and the rest of administration,” Adams said. “Knowing it is at the forefront of their minds concerning things to work on is remarkably rewarding.”
The group also lauded Plowman for allowing students to step behind the curtain and work alongside administrators in the development of campus initiatives.
“Dr. Plowman has sent an extraordinary standard for positive, productive dialogue among students from many diverse corners of the university,” said Julie Reilly, a doctoral student in political science who is from Pleasantville, New York. “By working together, we have created a community where we could share and learn from each other’s experiences.
“I am grateful for this heartfelt and effective effort to hear from and respond to students.”
The EVC Student Advisory Board will continue to meet and work with Plowman in the 2018-19 academic year. Three new members have already been selected to replace leaders who are graduating or cycling out through campus elections.
Members of the 2017-18 EVC Student Advisory Board are listed below by the college and/or unit they represent.
2017-18 Executive Vice Chancellor Student Advisory Board
Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources — Grant Uehling, applied science
Architecture — Kylie Miller, architecture
Arts and Sciences — Claire Adams, biochemistry/biology/pre-medicine; Ellie Blusys, biochemistry
Business — Alan Davis, finance and agribusiness; Luke Schnacker, economics and finance
Education and Human Sciences — Sarah Smith, family and consumer science education
Engineering — Alison Manske, biomedical engineering and international engineering
Fine and Performing Arts — Skyler Dykes, music; Cooper Creale, music
Journalism and Mass Communication — Carissa Soukup, journalism
Law — Nicola Iraola, psychology; Joy Kathurima, litigation skills concentration
ASUN — Joe Zach, accounting; Hunter Traynor, political science
First Generation — Alexis Grossnicklaus, psychology; Ashlee Kocina Young, human sciences and leadership studies
Graduate Student Association — Julia Reilly, political science
Greek Life — Calen Griffin, finance; Yakira McKay, actuarial sciences; Trevor Spath, agricultural education
Honors Program and Greek Life — Olivia Beier, accounting and economics
International Students — Nadir Al Kharusi, global studies and economics
ROTC — Seth Carithers, construction management
William H. Thompson Scholars — Brook McCluskey, nutrition, exercise and health science/nutrition and dietetics; Jewel Rodgers, management and entrepreneurship