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Reaching out

Campus leaders hit the phones to welcome new students

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Paula Allen-Meares and Stanley O. Ikenberry

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and interim president Stanley O. Ikenberry call incoming freshmen from the Chicago Public Schools to welcome them to campus.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

When some of UIC’s newest students answered their phones on a recent Saturday morning, they didn’t seem to be expecting the caller on the other end of the line.  

Interim President Stanley O. Ikenberry and UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, along with other university and campus leaders, hit the phones June 5 to welcome more than 200 Chicago Public Schools students who plan to enroll at UIC this fall.

“Initially the students were surprised, but they were pleasantly surprised by the end of the conversation,” said Barbara Henley, vice chancellor for student affairs. “They were very thankful and seemed to feel honored that they were called by the university and that someone cared.”

Henley and other campus leaders spent two hours calling students and families to answer their questions about UIC. The pilot program aimed to diminish the 15 percent drop-off among students who accept their offer of admissions but never enroll.

“Higher education is very competitive today and we need to continue to make these kinds of efforts to reach out to students, especially students who are native to Chicago and in the Chicago Public Schools system,” Henley said. “It’s very important that we let those students know that we really want them to be here and that we really want them to be successful.”

Other participants included Christopher Kennedy, chairman of the U of I Board of Trustees; trustees James Montgomery and Carlos Tortolero; student trustee Bogdan Zavorotny; R. Michael Tanner, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Warren Chapman, vice chancellor for external affairs; Mark Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services; Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, vice chancellor for research; and Hugo Teruel, associate director of the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services Program.

On hand to help campus leaders answer questions were Susan Teggatz, senior associate director of housing; Timothy Opgenorth, director of financial aid; Emanuel Pollack, senior associate dean of LAS student affairs; and Thomas Glenn, executive director of admissions.

Students’ questions ranged from financial aid and housing to orientation and summer programs, Teruel said. He recalls a parent who had recently moved and was concerned that the student’s housing information would be sent to the old address.

“We were able to clear it up and have that taken care of,” Teruel said. “It left a good feeling to be able to help somebody like that.

“It’s good to show that administrators are interested in students attending UIC  — it brings a more personal touch to recruitment and retention. And it was good for administrators to keep in touch with students and their families.”

A recent economics and pre-pharmacy graduate, Zavorotny gave new students the inside scoop  on what it’s like to be a UIC student.

“As a freshman, there were certain things I didn’t know. It really does make such a difference if you feel more comfortable and can adapt to being in college,” he said. “I made sure they knew what they were doing and sent them on the right path.”


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