New Vice President Welcomes Students to Campus

Dr. Jodi Koslow Martin
Dr. Jodi Koslow Martin greeted students and their families as they arrived to campus for Welcome Day during last week's new student orientation activities.

Vice President for Student Engagement encourages students to get involved in the year ahead

CHICAGO (August 27, 2013) — When Dr. Jodi Koslow Martin was an undergraduate student, she felt that her student government advisor had “the best job in the world,” she said. After one meeting with the advisor during her senior year, Koslow Martin thought, “Hey, maybe I could do that.” That realization would eventually set her on a path toward graduate school and a career in higher education and student services.

Koslow Martin, who was named University vice president for student engagement last May, chooses to work in higher education for the students, she said. This was obvious when Koslow Martin greeted incoming students on the University’s Welcome Day last week, sharing her excitement about the year ahead. “I view my work on a college campus as a gift that I’ve been given,” she said. “To be a part of this special time in people’s lives and watch them grow and develop into the people that they want to become is incredibly rewarding.”

As new University students settle into campus in the coming days, Koslow Martin encouraged them to not only dive into their classes, but challenged them to consider student organizations and activities that they could be involved in. “Fall is a season of hope and excitement on an academic campus, and of promise,” she said. “I encourage students to look into student groups to determine what their place might be, and to join something, to become connected to others within the larger North Park community. There are a lot of ways to help figure out who you are at this small school in a big city.”

Koslow Martin told students that the University’s Student Engagement offices will be a resource to them as they find their fit during college. “I made the decision to work in this area and lead student engagement because I know that the college experience doesn’t just happen within the walls of the classroom,” she said. “It happens with the development of new friendships and in relationships with faculty and staff. Students will learn about themselves, and also about how the world works and their place within it.”

Part of the reason Koslow Martin was drawn to North Park was to serve as a source of students’ spiritual growth. “I appreciate the opportunity for students to grow their faith as part of their college experience,” she says. “I think that goes hand in hand with figuring our your purpose in life, which is often what college becomes a time to do. It’s a time when students may start to sense where God is leading them in life, beyond school.”

Empowering students to understand “how you get from the opening convocation to the graduation stage” is an essential part of the work that the University’s Division of Student Engagement will do under Koslow Martin’s leadership, she said. “Students have to find a fit,” she continued. “What helps them find a fit is when their expectations are met, and when they are open to new experiences.”

University staff will serve as a resource to students as they achieve their goals, Koslow Martin said. “As a university, we don’t believe in the promise of a North Park education if you don’t finish what you start. It’s not just important that you got admitted and you start, but that you finish your degree with us,” she said. “So, my work as the leader of the Student Engagement Division is about programmatic opportunities and providing for students a community of care that ensures they reach that graduation stage.”

Dr. Jodi Koslow Martin
Dr. Koslow Martin, vice president for student engagement, oversees a number of areas that come alongside students in their academic and social lives, providing a well-rounded college experience.

Among the areas that Koslow Martin oversees—such as Student Success, University Ministries, and the Office of Diversity—she is eager to further develop Career Development and Internships, International Student Services, study abroad, and Residence Life. She is also excited to take advantage of the newly renovated campus dining hall this year and connect with students there. “The brand new dining hall is for both resident and commuter, undergrad and grad, all the students that come to North Park, so that they can share a meal together and break bread in the place where they learn,” she said. “I’m going to eat lunch there as much as I possibly can, so that students can see faculty and staff having their meals in the same space as they have it.”

Like many in the University community, Koslow Martin is also excited for the opportunities that the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life will afford. Opening in fall 2014, the Johnson Center will house the new Center for Student Engagement, with enhanced services for students. Citing the intentionality of the space, Koslow Martin said, “While it will be great to be in new offices, it will be even better to symbolize the kind of collaboration that our offices will engage in, in order to give students a well-rounded college experience.”

The Center for Student Engagement will also provide a place for students to wrestle with big questions, Koslow Martin said. “It will present students with a space where some tough questions can be answered for them, whether it be ‘What am I supposed to do with my life?’ or ‘Should I take this internship or not?’ Whether it’s ‘How am I going to make it through my class?’ or ‘How am I going to employ these new test-taking strategies when I’ve never been faced with this kind of challenge before?’” she said. “It’s all those kinds of questions. The people that work in the Center are there to help you answer those questions.”

But perhaps most important to Koslow Martin is her belief that the University will experience growth as mentoring relationships are developed. In addition to improved campus facilities, she said, “I think where we will also grow is in nurturing the ways in which we develop relationships on campus. When a student is new to North Park, it’s important that they receive the right advice and learn what it takes to make it work here.”

As she did with her college advisor, Koslow Martin wants University students to learn how to become good mentees. “They learn from mentors what it means to seek out good mentoring,” she said, “and they know it isn’t just going to come to them, and that someone isn’t just going to give them an internship—they have to be open and seek some things out.” In the coming year and beyond, Koslow Martin doesn’t want to focus only on “more,” she said. “I want to think about the quality of the relationships that students have on campus, among each other, and with the faculty and staff.”

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