Rutgers Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs speaks about initiatives at RUSA Town Hall
Rutgers’ Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) Ben Sifuentes-Jauregui spoke about multiple issues and initiatives his department is addressing at the Rutgers University Student Assembly’s (RUSA) Town Hall meeting Tuesday night.
Having assumed the role of vice chancellor just two years ago, this was Sifuentes-Jauregui’s first time speaking at a RUSA event. He said that his goal in speaking at the event was to show students what Undergraduate Academic Affairs is, how it affects their lives and to think about ways that the office can collaborate more effectively with students.
Sifuentes-Jauregui told The Daily Targum that by attending RUSA’s Town Hall and interacting with more students, he hopes to learn how to strengthen the relationship between UAA and the student body.
UAA’s main goals are to increase student access to resources for teaching and learning, provide direct academic services and leadership opportunities for students, enhance the learning experience through experiential learning, courses, seminars and workshops and plan for and assist with the transition from secondary to post-secondary education, according to the office’s website.
To Sifuentes-Jauregui, diversity is what makes Rutgers great and is a keystone aspect of a student’s learning experience.
“For me, diversity is a very important premium at Rutgers,” he said during his talk. “Excellence in diversity as a way of enriching the kinds of multi-perspectives that happen in the classroom and in everyday life is very important, and so I think about Undergraduate Affairs encouraging access to research and promoting excellence in diversity.”
Getting new student ideas and initiatives started and having them succeed requires student participation, Sifuentes-Jauregui said. If there are faculty debates about things that affect students, he encourages students to try to be there and have their voices heard.
“You have to demand some kind of conversation,” he said.
Before becoming vice chancellor, Sifuentes-Jauregui was a transfer dean.
He said that since transfers make up around one-third of the student body, taking their needs into consideration is of great importance. He has subsequently helped create the Task Force on Transfer Students, which were student suggested initiatives.
Additional initiatives that Sifuentes-Jauregui is focusing on include the Clicker Committee, which would attempt to put in place a universal and affordable iClicker for students.
“(RUSA) is a great group of young leaders who really care about Rutgers and who think about the next gen(eration) of students,” he said. “Our office is always looking to make sure students' lives, especially the academic aspect of their lives, is a well-oiled machine.”
Sifuentes-Jauregui said that he believes in aiming more attention at student-centered activities.
“We don’t just want to do things, we want to make sure that we work with the communities and the groups that we’re trying to help so that they can tell us what they need from academic affairs, so that we have the right programs, whether they’re in career services, the learning centers or students access in education equity,” he said.
All students need to be educated on the services the University makes available to them, so the work they do in and out of the classroom is something that matters to them, Sifuentes-Jauregui said.
It is important that when assuming a position as an administrator that one maintains contact with the students, he said. For that reason, Sifuentes-Jauregui continues to teach in addition to being vice chancellor.
“Teaching calms me down, that’s what I love,” he said. “That’s what we do.”
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.