New acting dean appointed to University College Community
The Rutgers—New Brunswick campus was home to more than 2,507 students who identified as adult or non-traditional in Fall 2013, and the University College Community (UCC) was created to support these students, according to its website.
Dona Schneider, who herself experienced life as a non-traditional student, was appointed Acting Dean of the University College Community on Aug. 1.
Schneider is sensitive to the needs of non-traditional students seeking to balance their academic goals with their responsibilities, work and family life.
“I’m very sympathetic to the problems of transfer students because I was one myself.” Schneider said. “I hated my dorm, the school I was in didn’t feel right for me. So I left. And I didn’t return to school until I was 28.”
The UCC does not award degrees like other schools at Rutgers, as it is a community, rather than a full-fledged school. Instead, it provides services to students to assist them in achieving their degrees, such as academic advising.
The lack of programs for transfer and non-traditional students is a problem that the UCC aims to remedy. Students are encouraged to attend a student orientation geared for transfer and adult student populations offered by the Office of Student Affairs, according to the UCC website.
“Freshmen have programs in place to help them adjust, like New Student Orientation. Transfer students didn’t have programs like that. They can slip through the cracks," Schneider said. “Transfer students can sometimes feel kind of like orphans.”
The UCC aims to help transfer students and non-traditional students adjust, Schneider said. The UCC only offers its services to transfer students and non-traditional students.
The term "non-traditional" is used to identify students who have personal and professional demands on their lives that make it challenging to meet their academic goals.
Veterans, students with children and students that work full-time are all considered non-traditional students.
The UCC has a new veteran student organization open to current veteran service members, family members and friends of service members or anyone who wants to support our veterans and troops on the New Brunswick campus, according to the UCC website.
Rutgers University Services, Education, and Resources for Veteran Students (RU S.E.R.V.S) is an organization within the UCC.
This student-run organization was created for veterans by veterans, according to the RU S.E.R.V.S page on the UCC website. UCC advocates for non-traditional students inside the larger University community by recommending policies and programs to meet specific needs of non-traditional students.
“Many transfer students can only take classes at certain times because they have jobs or children. Because of that, some students could be unable to take required classes, for example," Schneider said.
The UCC combats this issue by offering support services at times that are convenient for non-traditional students, Schneider said.
The UCC also endorses the School of Management and Labor Relations and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
The School of Management and Labor Relations offer degrees with a flexible combination of online, daytime, weekend, evening and off-campus courses, according to the UCC website. Similarly, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy alleviated the hardships of non-traditional students by offering a degree in public health for transfer students.
“Our goal is to (help students) avoid the 'RU Screw.' We want to make things better," Schneider said.
Schneider serves as Principal Investigator for the HIV Community Prevention, Support and Development Initiative, said Vice Chancellor Ben Sifuentes in a press statement. This is a grant-funded initiative that trains and provides technical assistance to organizations across the state that aim to prevent HIV and support those that have it.
Schneider is particularly pleased to be named Acting Dean of the University College Community, as she will be responsible for working with students, faculty and other administrators to carry out this important work, Sifuentes said in the statement.
“Professor Schneider is a committed educator and enthusiastic leader, who has an outstanding record in research and teaching in epidemiology and public policy," Sifuentes said.