The Niebuhr Center for Engagement and Reflection
Elmhurst College’s Niebuhr Center has always sought to promote the concept and realization of one’s vocation for students, faculty, and staff alike. Regardless of one’s religious identification, the College encourages its constituents to embody a spirit and demonstrate “faith” through reflection, discernment, and service. To encourage our students to contemplate vocation, students must first ask themselves, “Who am I?”
This question is critical to the new molding of the Niebuhr Center at Elmhurst College. In the revitalization of this space, the Niebuhr Center promotes the mission and vision of the College through programs aimed at supporting the development of student intellectual and personal growth. Through a wide array of orientation, advising, and mentoring services, students will foster skills in self-efficacy, reflection, and discernment. With intentional initiatives that remain true to Reinhold Niebuhr and the College’s vision, the Niebuhr Center will be a space, which helps students identify and understand their values, while recognizing their own unique and essential roles in service to their peers, our community, and to the broader society.
This exciting programming will be branching out to fold in the “first-year student experience,” effectively establishing a true intra-campus collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs. With the hopeful financial assistance of a NetVUE program development grant, the Center would have an incredible opportunity to successfully expand its scope and meet students at the front door of their college journey: In the First Year Seminar. In this highly anticipated Fall 2019 pilot program, specifically geared for students entering the College as open majors, First Year Seminar faculty will partner with trained college success coaches (Student Affairs personnel) to facilitate a newly designed FYS course. This course centers around the concept of vocation, nurturing student intellectual development, enhancing critical thinking, and establishing a better sense of one’s self-identity. In addition, grant funding would also provide an opportunity for the Center to establish a Niebuhr Faculty Fellowship, which would be a two-year rotating position focused on the development of innovative approaches in which vocational exploration can be weaved into other areas of campus life for all students, beyond the classroom.
The Niebuhr Center is comprised of three professionals: Michelle “Frankie” DeLuca, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Niebuhr Center; Samantha Migatz, Assistant Director of the Niebuhr Center; and Michelle Sadowski, Assistant Director of the Niebuhr Center. Located in the Frick Center and the Office of Housing and Residence Life in West Hall, Frankie, Michelle and Samantha are eager to have a positive impact on our first-year students and College through the Niebuhr Center.
Three pillars of the Niebuhr Center
Transition: The Niebuhr Center serves as a center of welcome and inclusion, which values and invests in social, intellectual, cultural and skill-building initiatives that assist students in transitioning to a small liberal arts college environment in general and Elmhurst College specifically. This begins with an orientation experience for both first year and transfer students and continues throughout the academic year with programming for various stages of transition.
Exploration: The Niebuhr Center takes a holistic, comprehensive approach in its advising services for students who are looking to explore their academic interests and aspirations. By “advising the entire student,” the NC serves as a resource for students to navigate through the curriculum and academic programs while also addressing their individual needs - often outside of, yet still influencing, performance inside the classroom. Through collaborative partnerships with other campus centers, departments, and faculty members, the NC can recognize these various student academic, emotional and physical needs, meet these needs, and subsequently help move the student forward toward program completion and matriculation.
Retention: The Niebuhr Center advances the retention efforts of the College in a coordinated endeavor to support student success. Through purposeful collaboration among peers, staff, and faculty, the Center’s mentoring programs aimed at enhancing the academic and personal development of Elmhurst College students.
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