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Calling All Students: Sarasota-Manatee Bridges the Gap


WITH THE MID-SEMESTER SHIFT to remote instruction due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus wanted to make sure students had the resources and support they needed to successfully continue their studies.

The nine staff members reached out by phone to students – all 2,100.

Brett Kemker, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, says that when he learned that faculty and students were having difficulty connecting via email, he felt “the best thing our student success team could do was reach out to students personally by phone, just to check in and offer our support. The call-outs have been very well received.”

He related a conversation an academic program specialist had with a student enrolled in an online program.

“The student really appreciated the call, saying ‘I didn’t know if you knew I existed,’ since he already was fully online,“ Kemker says.

Megan Dudley, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary social sciences, says that in her time as a student at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, “I’ve never felt more connected to a school than when I received a call from Student Services.

“I was asked if I had any trouble adjusting and if they could be of assistance,” she says. “I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of concern they had for my academic success.”

Before the call was over, Dudley was able to schedule a phone appointment with a student advisor. “This call made me very appreciative of the amount of support from USF Sarasota-Manatee, and they could not have been more helpful at a time like this.”

Kemker looks forward to having his staff continue making the calls “even when we get back to normal.”

“It’s not a call saying ‘you need to do this or that,’ it’s just reaching out and making an honest connection,” he says.

- RICH SHOPES | Communications and Marketing