Stony Brook University is continuing to lead by example. The university recently took top honors in the SUNY-wide Outstanding Student Affairs Awards, receiving four awards.
“I am so proud of the excellent work of our team and this well-deserved recognition at the state level,” said Rick Gatteau, vice president for Student Affairs. “Taking home so many awards demonstrates our commitment and investment in being student-centered, forward thinking, and innovative at Stony Brook University.”
In an impressive win, Ashley Mercado, assistant director of the Center for Civic Justice, received the SUNY Bob Bonfiglio New Professional Award. Under her leadership, the Center for Civic Justice has continued its outstanding trajectory. With her support, the Community Dialogue program has flourished; her student staff and interns created comprehensive information guides, a breadth of thoughtful facilitation questions, and group activities for each event that made the material accessible and engaging for attendees. Through active engagement and mentoring, Mercado’s team developed professional competencies that they will utilize in their future work, at the University and beyond.
Mercado was also tasked with managing the daily operations of the University Food Pantry, which is located within the Center’s footprint. Since she started, she has supported the rollout of various operational enhancements, including the adoption of a formalized intake and inventory tracking system via the PantrySoft platform. With her support, this year the pantry was able to expand service offerings to include perishable items and cross-campus satellite locations.
“Ashley is helping to contribute to the profession, representing the University and SUNY System proudly, as a respected up-and-coming expert,” said Emily Snyder, director of Student Community Development.
In addition to Mercado’s recognition, Stony Brook took home three additional awards in the outstanding programs category. This marks the most out of any other SUNY school. Winning projects include:
- Democracy 101 Program: Implemented at Stony Brook University in Fall 2022, via the University’s Center for Civic Justice, this program educates students about the importance of civic engagement in their campus, local and global communities. The Democracy 101 program is hosted as an engaging multimedia presentation that educates students on elements of civic engagement to inform the student population on the basics of democracy such as engaging with elected officials, the structure of government, and the importance of voting in not only national elections but also in local elections. The presentation is facilitated in a fashion that is non-partisan and data-driven, emphasizing the importance of engagement for all and promoting the participation of all students in the democratic process regardless of political affiliation.
- Stony Brook Lactation Room: Few things are more daunting than returning to one’s everyday life postpartum; nothing is different, but everything has changed. Introducing campus lactation rooms amplified the student-parent experience as a whole. Because parenting status is not otherwise captured in an official manner by the university, access requests to these spaces has helped to shed light on who these students are and has offered a platform to collect vital feedback about overall needs and interests as a community. Stony Brook’s lactation room amenities include a hospital-grade, multi-user, electric double breast pump (Medela Symphony), a baby changing table, cleaning and personal care supplies, noise-suppressing sound machine, privacy screen, full-length mirror, and a comfortable seating area with a pillow and blanket. Additionally, a mini-refrigerator is accessible in each space for daily milk storing purposes as well as a microwave for steam cleaning, when needed. Mini storage lockers are available in some locations, where users can temporarily store personal breastfeeding accessories.
Pulse Survey Implementation: Pulse surveys — regularly asking brief questions to monitor sentiment — have become commonly used tools in user experience research.These surveys provide insights and spot items that need immediate attention. Stony Brook University has implemented this tool to monitor the overall sentiment of the campus community. The benefits of the project include the ability to monitor overall sentiment, observe the arc over an academic year, examine equity and inclusiveness through the lens of sentiment, systematically join sentiment information with academic demographics, and develop a culture of continuous and transparent feedback.
— Emily Cappiello