The Vice President of Student Services student luncheon will be held today at 12:30 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center.
This is twelfth year that the event has taken place, according to Vice President of Student Services Frank Parker. The luncheon is an effort to allow communication between faculty, such as department heads and students. While the entire student body is invited to the event, only 25 to 30 students are selected upon reservations.
Parker shared the importance that similar events hold for himself and how he believes that student contact is key.
“I remember when I was program director at SHSU and I had so much student contact and that was so neat,” Parker said. “But I noticed as I moved up, I had less and less. That was one of the things that I think was the most delightful for me. My mantra is if I am not excited when the next school semester starts and seeing new faces and new people and the energized students that come, I am going to retire.”
These luncheons are typically conducted in the same manner each year. The faculty members present, many times including President Dana G. Hoyt, will introduce themselves followed by the students doing the same.
Parker was asked what he believed to be the purpose of such event and how he felt this represented the university as a way of giving the students a chance to be heard.
“We wanted an opportunity where we could talk to students and say ‘hey what’s on your mind?’” Parker said.
The format of the luncheon has changed very much in the past eight years. It is now based on the students and the topics of the students’ choice. They are able to speak freely of any outlook concerning the university and any suggestions they may have.
“We ask the same three questions at every event,” Parker said. “We ask the students why they chose Sam Houston State University, what has their experience been like at SHSU and what would they change about SHSU? We can do this because you never know what direction you’re going to go, it changes with every luncheon. I still have one or two other questions that we would never get to because we go in the direction that the students lead us, in terms of what they want to talk about.”
The focus of the luncheon is placed on any problems or concerns that are noticed by the students or any areas of improvement that departments might not be aware of. Parker believes that this is why it is important for students to attend the event because students are the ones who will benefit the most by having their opinions heard.
“For instance, I walk across this campus at night all the time,” Parker said. “I have no fear of it. [Students], on the other hand, may have a different emotion, and I need to hear that from [them], so that I can make a change in that. So we don’t have a plan other than to ask those questions and see where the students lead us.”
The event is estimated to last one-and-a-half to two hours as students are allowed to communicate freely with the staff in a more comfortable environment.
“We try to answer some of the questions, but we also make changes,” Parker said. “For example, extending the hours of the student center, the health center and the recreational sports center. Those are things that have been talked about. Things like the design of the bookstore, a whole variety of things. We make changes every year because of the students that want to be heard.”
This is Parker’s eighth year attending the student luncheon. The event is scheduled around Hoyt’s availability, because as mentioned by Parker, he feels it important that she be present at these particular types of events. However, Hoyt will not be present for today’s event due to prior engagements.
Some of the faculty who will attend, however, consist of Associate Provost Richard Eglsaer and Heather Thielemann vice president for enrollment management.
For more information about the next event, contact Student Services at 936-294-1784.