Department of the Year Award
2016 National Finalist


Rowan University – Division of Student Life
The finalist-placing nomination was made by Carl Oxholm, Office of the President, Rowan University.

Award nomination:

In Rowan University’s Division of Student Life, campus safety is a comprehensive, collaborative, team effort—a priority that is addressed at every level of student affairs at the thriving, growing New Jersey institution. With dramatic enrollment increases—the student population has increased by more than 5,000 students since 2005 and is projected to reach 25,000 students within a decade—Rowan’s 21 departments within the Division of Student Life have made campus safety a hallmark through innovative programming and services and partnerships with other University departments. This has been a banner year for its leadership and innovation.

For the very first time this year, the Division of Student Life made sure that all new students to Rowan University —all 5,141 of them –received training this summer on Title IX as part of Orientation, which was then followed by trainings in Rowan’s Green Dot bystander intervention programs, an evidence-informed approach to sexual assault prevention. This fall, a new training program will educate all students about laws and University policies regarding sexual assault, harassment and abuse. This comprehensive and intuitive program was developed with substantial engagement by students and staff members in the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Division of Student Life. It is coupled with specific programs that have been developed over the past year and championed by our athletic teams, fraternities and sororities.

Rowan’s Wellness Center (which is part of the Division and includes Healthy Campus Initiatives, Counseling & Psychological Services, Alcohol & Other Drug Services, Student Health Services, and Emergency Medical Services) is a campus leader in suicide prevention/intervention, alcohol and other drug education, and sexual assault prevention programs. Alcohol and Other Drug Services sees over 700 students per academic year for clinical assessments, psychoeducational classes, and relapse prevention services. New this year is Rowan’s RU a Lifesaver suicide prevention program. Funded by a three-year $270,000 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant, it addresses campus safety in the most personable way possible: Safety to self. RU a Lifesaver focuses on reducing the stigma associated with mental health concerns and increases help-seeking behavior. In another new program starting this fall, Rowan’s Student Life Division is partnering with Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine to provide advanced behavioral health services at the Wellness Center.

Meanwhile, recognizing that diversity awareness is a key component of preventing biased violent incidents and in an effort to create a more inclusive campus, the division organized the office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) within the past year. In less than one year, SJICR collaborated across campus to deliver diversity awareness trainings and opportunities for cross-identity dialogues with nearly 250 students, faculty and staff. SJICR worked with Residential Learning and University Housing to train 149 undergraduate and graduate staff members on issues of equity, with special attention to providing support to marginalized populations, such as women, the LBGT community and racial/ethnic minorities.

Finally, in yet another innovation, our students are currently planning for the first-ever Title IX conference for New Jersey college students, which Rowan will host in April. Students will come together to share best practices and develop ways they can help recognize and prevent sex and gender discrimination and harassment. This complements the annual statewide Title IX Summit for University staff that Rowan began three years ago and continues to host. The Division of Student Life is working in a close partnership with the Office of Equity and Diversity on these conferences.

One of these initiatives would be enough to qualify the Rowan Division of Student Life for honor as the Department of the Year – because each has been so carefully thought through and well implemented. The fact that so many new programs have been started in just one year is truly remarkable. Our students know they have a safe campus supported by caring professionals. We could not ask for better.