By: Ashley Rose
In June, Kory Vitangeli was hired at IU South Bend as the new Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement. In just a few short months, she has left a timeless impact on the university.
With 20 years of previous experience at the University of Indianapolis, Vitangeli is well versed on the ins and outs of working in higher education. She said her previous experience set her up for success when she relocated to South Bend.
While never expecting to leave Indianapolis, Vitangeli noted there were too many amazing aspects to IU South Bend for her to not take the opportunity. Between passionate staff and faculty to friendly, hardworking students, Vitangeli said she knew IU South Bend was where she wanted to end up.
One of Vitangeli’s goals is to continue working in collaboration with the Chancellor to bring more focus to student engagement.
“We’re at a pivotal time in higher education, especially now that we’re mostly back since Covid-19,” she said. “Now is the time to re-engage the student community and create more opportunities for them.”
Covid-19 unfortunately stripped away many opportunities for college students, from social campus programs that allow them to make connections to the leadership opportunities that come with being involved in clubs and organizations on campus. Vitangeli is interested in reinventing some of these initiatives to further increase student engagement and increase retention rates at IU South Bend.
According to Vitangeli, the number one way to meet these engagement needs is to listen to student feedback. To access this feedback in the most effective manner, Vitangeli is interested in conducting what she calls a “listening tour.” While these details are not yet finalized, Vitangeli’s idea is to tour the different schools, clubs and athletic groups of campus to hear students’ honest thoughts and feelings about their campus experience. This would require hearing out not just students’ opinions, but what steps they think the university can take to achieve these objectives.
Vitangeli has also attended each weekly Student Government Association meeting as a way to build connections between students and the administration.
Within the feedback, Vitangeli doesn’t just want to hear about different clubs or programs students see on campus. While this is still valuable information, Vitangeli also wants to obtain information on how students feel about their financial needs being met, their ability to access mental health resources on campus and more personal aspects to the college experience.
“We want to help students in every aspect. Academically, socially and health wise, we need to be meeting the needs of our student population,” she said. “The number one predictor if a student continues attending a university is whether they feel a sense of belonging.”
Vitangeli acknowledged that IU South Bend’s continuous drop in retention is correlated with meeting these needs. While the campus has experienced successful enrollment rates, it is struggling to retain students and keep graduation rates high as some withdraw and relocate. According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), only 54 percent of full-time undergraduate students were retained, which means only about half returned to IU South Bend a year after they were enrolled.
Vitangeli said that increasing students’ familiarity with applications like Handshake can be incredibly beneficial to the future generation of graduates. Outside of Handshake, Vitangeli finds there are other professional skills the university needs to provide assistance in upholding, to ensure students are not just successful while getting their degree, but successful in whatever career field they enter after graduating.
As the Vice Chancellor for student engagement, one of Vitangeli’s biggest recommendations to all students is to not just speak up in class and make a friend or two, but take advantage of all the resources campus has to offer. She said she wants to encourage students to use the Titan Success Center, Career Services Office, Student Counseling Center and more.
Lastly, Vitangeli said she wants the student population to know her door is always open, and and she finds the best way to connect with the student body is to sit with individual students and hear about their personal experiences on campus.
Kory Vitangeli can be found in Suite 177 in the Administration Building and reached via email at email@example.com.