Posted May 16, 2011 by Eric Heilmeier 

Somebody has a Case of Summer

At the end of the school year, we all look back fondly at the past year and our accomplishments. We wish our graduating students the best of luck and remind them to stay in touch. And then the campus is quiet. If you are like me, you may have had a student or two ask you what you were doing during this time, assuming we also had the nice break they do. Well, most of us don’t have a break, so what do we do?

Of course I am huge supporter of taking some personal time that we couldn’t manage to slip in during the year. Traveling, visiting family and friends, and generally relaxing. However, I also think this time is a great time to reflect as well as look forward. 

Use this "break" to reimagine what student involvement looks like on your campus. Think about the experiences you want to provide to ensure students leave as a well-rounded citizen. Talk with colleagues, both on and off your campus, to see what type of programming they think would best support student development—and most importantly, talk with students. Meet students at orientation or ones who are taking classes. See what they want or need.Gone are the days when we can pull a binder off the shelf and duplicate last year’s event. Gone are the days in which college programs are the “only show in town” and whatever program you put on is successful. With students talking to their friends who attend other colleges, they are constantly connected, and continually compare the experiences their friends are getting. We want to ensure our students are getting those experiences—and more!

I challenge everyone to think of at least one new program, one new form of engagement, one new access point for students to get involved, one more way in which to create a positive experience for our students. Not just simply do what’s on your checklist, but truly think about new programs that will help students succeed. Programs that will get them integrated, socially and academically. (Sorry had to throw in some theory!) It’s this frame of mind that will keep our students engaged with campus, keep us creative, and keep our field moving forward! 

What are some of those new programs you have planned for next year? How are you challenging yourself to come up with something new on your campus?


Eric Heilmeier

Eric Heilmeier is the Director, Pierpont Commons & Associate Director, University Unions at University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.


Thanks for the great reminder!
Allison Gerland
Comment posted 05/17/2011 9:44 AM
Thanks for a great post - Summer is a great time for relaxing, rejuvenating and reinventing yourself and your office!
Comment posted 05/17/2011 12:46 AM
Eric, I truly enjoyed reading your post on student engagement and how we should interact with our students even before they begin the next new term in their program or the first new term at the college. I too feel the same way as you, in promoting new programs and creativity at our college. I intend to take some new ideas to the student activities panel next month--in order to engage our new upcoming students and current students in an art project to have displayed on the campus grounds to demonstrate our students matter to us and to also show what their needs are. I hope to give our students a voice in what matters to them and to show the faculty what it means to collaborate and learn from our student engagements. Thank you for your delightful post! Kaknotta
Comment posted 07/03/2011 11:47 AM
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