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Return to Campus: Keys to success for students

A wide range of centers and offices are ready to help students succeed this semester. Learn what's available in this webinar.

In the fifth Return to Campus webinar, held on Aug. 13, 2020, staff from key offices at the U shared information, tips and advice for students about services available this fall to help them succeed and have a great experience. Many events and activities are taking place online but will still provide a campus community experience. You’ll learn how the library is operating, about work study opportunities and more.

University leaders in attendance:
  • Amy Bergerson, associate dean, Undergraduate Studies/director, Office of Student Success and Empowerment
  • Beth Howard, director, Academic Advising Center
  • Rachel Hayes-Harb, director, Office of Undergraduate Research & Capstone Programs
  • Marissa Diener, director, LEAP Academic Learning Communities
  • Tricia Sugiyama, director, Center for Ethnic Student Affairs
  • Harish Maringanti, associate dean, IT and Digital Library Services, Marriott Library

Webinar transcript

Chris Nelson

Good morning, everybody. My name is Chris Nelson. I want to welcome you to the University of Utah's Return to Campus series. This is our fifth webinar. Today, we're going to focus on keys to success for students. We've got a wonderful panel group representing the Office of Undergraduate Studies, the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs and the Marriott Library. Again, focus today is on success for our students. I did want to point out our last webinar was focused on student engagement and featured folks from our student affairs division. So, if that's of interest to you, be sure to go back and watch that one as well.

We have a series of panelists today. We've also had a lot of really great insightful questions asked. And so, we'll ask the panelists to speak for just a few minutes and then we'll get to the questions and we'll wrap up in just about 40 minutes. With that, I'm pleased to turn over to our first speaker, Amy Bergerson.

Amy Bergerson

Good morning. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Amy Bergerson and I work in the Office of Student Success and Empowerment, where my job is to ensure that every student who starts college at the University of Utah achieves their goals. All of the folks who'll be talking with you this morning have been working really hard to be ready for you to join us in 10 days, whether in person or online or in some combination of those. And no matter how you'll be taking your classes, we want to share with you today some resources and ways to engage fully in your educational experience. While this semester may not be completely normal, it can still be exceptional.

So, whether you're a new student or a continuing student at the University of Utah, one of the most important things to know is that there are resources here to support your success. I'd like to share a few of these.

First is the Learning Center. The Learning Center supports students in three ways. First of all, we have learning consultations that help you discover more about the way you learn, and then you put that knowledge to work, to maximize your strengths. We also have one-on-one tutoring in over 100 courses across campus to support you in your individual classes. You can make appointments for tutoring online at the Learning Center website. Supplemental instruction will be offered in about 15 different courses this semester. Your professor will tell you if SI is available for your course and when these peer-led group study sessions are offered.

Also, if you have mad skills in a particular subject, consider becoming a tutor. It's a great way to earn a little side money, meet other students, and become even more knowledgeable in the subject you love. The best thing about the Learning Center is that all of our services are free. You can learn more about the Learning Center at

Second, many students find themselves struggling with food or housing insecurities. This year, we're rolling out a new service for students who need support in these areas, the Basic Needs Center. We'll offer a rotation of campus and community services virtually this fall, folks that you can engage with who are familiar with options, both on and off campus. Our Feed U Pantry has been up and running all spring and summer, and we'll continue to offer both fresh produce from our campus gardens and canned and dry goods out of the union and the Eccles Health Science Education building.

Finally, unique to the University of Utah is the Student Success Advocates. These professionals assist you in defining what success in college looks like. And then they work with you to develop plans to achieve that success. SSAs will be present on campus and virtually this fall. The main thing you need to know about the SSAs is that if you don't know where to find a resource, or just want to know that you're moving in the right direction, they're available to answer any question and will gladly connect you with others on campus who could support your success. They'll even help you find a place to connect to WiFi or study on campus this fall. So, if you're looking for that, these are the people that call.

Students who've worked with Student Success Advocates tell us that they learn important skills, that they are connected to significant resources and that they feel like somebody at the U cares about them. You can learn more about SSAs at And also watch for the website we'll be launching next week to let you know about events sponsored by the SSAs and many of the other offices who will be talking with you today.

We're so excited to have you join us this fall, and we look forward to assisting you in making this semester exceptional. And now I'll turn it over to Beth Howard from Academic Advising Center.

Beth Howard

Thank you, Amy. Yes. My name is Beth Howard and I'm from the Academic Advising Center. Like my colleagues here today, I'm really excited that the fall semester will be underway shortly. I've been asked to give you a few tips on how to have the best possible fall term.

First, I encourage you to think about the factors that have contributed to your academic successes in the past and try to incorporate those into your fall schedule. For those of you who are new to the U, whether you're coming directly from high school, another college, or if you've been away from school for some time, use what you've learned at your previous schools or work settings. For returning students, you can pull directly from your prior experiences at the U.

For example, some of you may have said or thought that you do best when there's a substantial amount of interaction in the classroom. If this is the case, IVC or IVC hybrid classes would be the ideal. IVC may be a new term. It stands for Interactive Video Class, where you'll be joining the class virtually at a set time, so that you can engage actively with your classmates and instructors in ways that mirror what you would experience in a traditional class.

Some students have many responsibilities outside of their academics and might prefer classes that are fully online, where you have maximum flexibility. Earlier this week, an email was sent to your UMail account that described the various class remote formats scheduled for the fall term. Think about which of these meets your needs the best. In all likelihood, your fall schedule will include a combination of these classes.

Second, be open to new ideas and strategies. One thing COVID-19 has taught us is that we can't predict what will happen next. Flexibility and creativity in our responsiveness to change are essential to build skills that will help us long after COVID is a memory.

For example, if you were one of the people that said you prefer highly interactive classes and your class was only available as fully online, adapt the class to meet your ideal learning style. Find someone else in the class and arrange to view the lectures together virtually or in person, if it's possible, or meet once or twice a week for study sessions. Even if the materials can be accessed any time, set defined dates and times of the week for doing the work associated with the class. It will really help you keep on track.

Finally, remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Really, whether you are brand new to the U or a returning student, this semester is likely to bring new challenges, but we have a lot of people here on campus committed to helping you be successful.

And now I'm pleased to introduce my friend and colleague, Rachel Hayes-Harb.

Rachel Hayes-Harb

Hi there, I'm Rachel Hayes-Harb. I work in the Office of Undergraduate Research, and I want to talk to you about how you can take advantage of extracurricular and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities this fall at the U, whether you're on campus or working entirely remotely.

First, did you know that during your career as an undergraduate student, you can get involved in the cutting-edge research going on at the U? Believe it or not, undergraduate student collaborators worked on more than 30 COVID-19 related research studies this summer. All over campus, undergraduate students work in labs, studios and other research settings. At this time, this work is often done remotely, contributing to the new knowledge produced by the U as a leading research university. The office of undergraduate research offers programs to pay you for your research contributions, in addition to grant programs that can support your research. To get started, all you need to do is to make an appointment with our undergraduate research advisor, who can walk you through all of the stages of the process of becoming an undergraduate research collaborator, starting with learning the ropes, learning the programming we have available, all the way through turning this experience into a strong resume or a graduate school application.

You can also get involved this semester by attending our weekly virtual undergraduate research education events, where you can learn about things like data management, translating research for non-specialist audiences, working successfully with mentors, asking for letters of recommendation or presenting your research. Or you could stop by the virtual fall undergraduate research symposium that will be held on December 4, 2020. We would love to see you there. So our office welcomes new and returning students alike. You can get started by visiting us at

A second opportunity, Project Muse offers robust engagement programming, from weekly opportunities to interacting remotely with faculty in casual conversational settings, to stimulating lunchtime lectures covering a broad range of topics, including things like imagery in the media, race and politics, the process of discovery, serendipity in science, and the power of mentorship. You can join the MUSE community by visiting

Third, even though travel is tricky right now, it's never too early to start planning your learning abroad experience. Get started searching the database of opportunities, take the mini course called Learning Abroad 101 online and start making a plan with the help of your academic advisors. To learn more about this, visit

So, these are just a few examples. I encourage you to check out the Bennion Center for Community Engagement, the Hinckley Center for Politics, and so many other offices that offer these opportunities at the U.

The take-home message here is that there are tons of ways for you to get involved and stay involved in interesting, meaningful, and impactful extracurricular and co-curricular experiences this fall. My colleagues all over campus and I are committed to making sure you have the richest and most robust university experience possible. We're excited to welcome you back to the U's virtual and/or physical campus, and we stand ready to support you. I'm happy to pass you along now to my colleague, Marissa Diener.

Marissa Diener

Hi, everyone. I'm Marissa Diener. I'm a professor in Family and Consumer Studies and the director of the LEAP Learning Community program. I'm really excited to see you today and we're excited to welcome you back for our returning students. And for new students, we can't wait to get to know you. We love the energy that you bring to campus and your ideas, so we're really excited that students will be returning virtually and in person.

So, I'd like to share a little bit about what classes will look like this fall and what faculty have been doing this summer to prepare. First off, please check your class schedule to see the format of your classes. We've introduced some new formats for this fall semester. Beth, you heard mentioned IVC, and so the format of your class might have changed since you registered and as things have evolved and we've learned more about COVID and how to adapt. We've been working as a faculty with our Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and our Teaching and Learning Technologies, who have hosted webinars, bootcamps, and office hours about best practices so that we can be ready to implement really engaging, exciting online classes, hybrid classes, and active engagement in our socially distanced in-person classrooms.

We've also put in place some technology that will enable us to switch back and forth more easily across class modalities should our circumstances change and should the need arise.

So, there are some new practices in place. The first one is that all faculty, staff, and students on campus, or off, all students, have access to a pro Zoom account so you can set up a Zoom meeting. You won't be impacted by time limits. Zoom is now integrated into Canvas, which enables faculty to hold office hours through live video and enables us to do those IVC, interactive video classes in real time via Zoom, right in canvas. So, it should be easily accessible.

My second tip is to encourage all of you to develop relationships with your professor and classmates, so please visit your professor's office hours. We want to get to know you as a person and we like to talk to our students outside of class. I love it when students take advantage of office hours, and I think right now, in this moment that we're in, it's even more important, where we're physically more isolated from one another, that we're looking for connections. So please figure out how your faculty member and instructors are holding office hours. It might be on Canvas via Zoom or ConexED. If you can't make their office hours, make an appointment. We have all these ways to be increasingly accessible to you now through technology.

If you're going to be out of a class please communicate to your professor that you are missing class and keep a close eye on the syllabus and the Canvas page to find out what is happening in the class.

I always say this to my students, but I think it's really important now: get to know someone in each of your classes. Get their phone number so you can text them if you have to miss class, create some study groups, work on a project together. You don't want to feel alone in your class, and you're not alone. Everyone's looking for opportunities, for connection points, so reach out to other students in your classes.

Make sure you're really familiar with Canvas. All classes will be using Canvas, which is our learning management system. They've got great technical guides that can help you understand everything. Every single tool in canvas, there is a good guide for it.

And since we're using so much more technology, I think this is a great opportunity for students to develop their technology skills, so capitalize on the software that we have. You have free access as a student to lots of different software. We're an Adobe Creative Campus, meaning you can use Photoshop, InDesign, all these programs for free. You can edit sound and video, create beautiful documents, and those are great skills to take into the workplace. So, working on those skills will benefit you in engaging in campus and also in your work. You get the Microsoft Suite free as well.

And then I also wanted to really quickly say a couple things echoing what other people have said about taking advantage of all the services that we have on campus. We have lots of academic support, so we have tutoring services that are free through the Learning Center. Previously, you had to pay for those services. You will not have to pay for them this upcoming year. You can have individual tutoring, you can schedule it online, you can call them. We have a Writing Center on campus that can help you with your writing. There are a lot of resources for you to make sure that you're successful, and that's why we're here.

I also want to just really quickly say that we've outfitted lots of our classrooms, 100 different classrooms with new video and audio capture systems. So if you have an in-person class, and you're not able to make it to class, that system will enable the instructor of the class to videotape their in-person session and post it on Canvas so that if you're not physically present you'll be able to view the class at another time. We're really working hard to make sure that you have a successful, great experience. We're really excited. I'm going to turn the time over now to Tricia Sugiyama.

Tricia Sugiyama

Thank you so much. Greetings and good morning. My name is Tricia Sugiyama and I use she, her, her pronouns. I'm the director for the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, otherwise known as CESA.

If you think about it in terms of population, the U is about the size of a small city, and like a small city, there's always a lot of exciting things going on. But how do you find all these exciting things? How does one negotiate this new place and make it your hometown? Well, here are a few tips.

First, information home base. Like the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, which is located in the Student Union, there are always student resource spaces around campus, such as the American Indian Resource Center, the Black Cultural Center, the Dream Center, the LGBT Resource Center, the Women's Resource Center, and the Veterans Support Center, just to name a few. These resources and support centers have amazing staff, advisors, and fabulous student care mentors. These individuals are ready to help you explore campus, find opportunities, and connect you to social and academic communities.

In addition, our centers will have grab-and-go tables with personal supplies, snacks, fun items, such as crafts. We will also have some virtual spaces for appointments. So, if you are unable to have the connections to meet with advisors or other professors in a private space, we will have some spaces dedicated for students to be able to virtually meet with those individuals on campus that will provide them support.

We will have workshops and webinar viewing spaces. Again, if you have limited connections, we will have spaces where you can come and see some of these amazing workshops or webinars that happen at the U. We have connections to student groups and to study groups. So please take advantage of these resource centers and all the things that we have to offer.

Second, join a virtual hangout. I know that right now, we're all doing virtual meetings and classes. It can seem like all work and no play. Don't let it be that. Let there be some play. Try some of our amazing new virtual hangouts from conversations, hip hop and comic books to stress-support groups. Get connected to the U while having fun and meeting others.

Third, join a student group. Consider getting connected in a way with student groups, everything from pre-professional associations to Quidditch. If you can't find something that interests you, create something. Our Student Association, which houses our groups, which is ASUU, can help you create your own club or help you to connect to a club that might meet one of your interests.

Last, take a chance and attend one of the amazing workshops, lectures, or film screenings on campus. College is more than just classes. Leaders here at the university and offices have been working very hard to find creative ways to connect you to world leaders, artists, film producers, music groups, and even some celebrities. Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you can find in a university. Remember, you don't have to be a member at all. Just come to one of our centers. You can visit us at or stop by our center. Again, we're in the Student Union. We'll help connect you to a resource center that will help connect you to all the opportunities and all the amazing things at the university. Now I will turn the time over to Harish.

Harish Maringanti

Hi everyone. My name is Harish Maringanti. I'm the associate dean for IT and Digital Library Services at the Marriott Library. Similar to what others have mentioned, things are going to be very different in the fall, and the library will look different, too. I would like to talk about the library space and services in the fall semester. First, we recognize the importance of the library as a place and want to mention that the library is currently open on level one. Beginning August 24, the broader library will open.

Few key points to note: As seating and space is more limited because of social distancing to maximize space for your needs, we are limiting access to the university, students, faculty, and staff only. Therefore, you will be asked to present your UCard at the point of entry. Face coverings are required to enter the building and throughout your visit. Please follow all University of Utah's safety precautions while you are in the library. Media production spaces, studio labs, such as One Button Studios, where you can record your own videos, study rooms, individual study spaces will all be open. Reservable and first-come-first-serve seating is available on levels one, two, and three.

Second point to note is information about our technology lending program. If you have technology needs such as needing a laptop or access to a reliable internet connection to participate in remote coursework or a camera to record a video, you can check out equipment through the library. With support from CARES funding, we anticipate making available around 1,200 laptops and over 250 WiFi hotspots to students in the fall semester. All software that is freely available to you through the University of Utah will be installed on all these laptops. Items can be checked out for the entire semester and will be available only for students enrolled in fall. If, for some reason, you are unable to come to campus, we do have the option of home delivery.

The third point I would like to note is that all our collection materials are accessible via the library catalog. If you need help finding articles for your research paper or need research consultations for a Capstone or dissertation project, or need help with GIS or editing videos, library staff stand ready to help. You can always stop by to get in-person assistance when we are open or can request individual or group consultations with library staff via Zoom. The best place to access all this information is via library website,

In closing, fall semester will be about adapting to persistent change and will be about evolving services and responding to situations on a daily basis. Through all of this, it is important to dedicate time for your self-care and think about the bigger picture of how college work integrates with your life. Again, we are very excited to welcome you and are eager to help you succeed. With that, I'll turn it over to Chris.

Chris Nelson

Thank you, Harish. Wow. I have to say I'm getting that sense of anxiety and excitement that I think everybody faces as you get ready to come back to class. It's that careful balance. Your offices do such a great job of making a big, complicated research university that has all the wonderful strengths that we've got, but you all do such a great job of making it a little bit smaller for our students. Let me just ask the first question, maybe back to Amy, as a starting point.

We've talked a lot about online resources. We've also got If there's a question somebody's got out there, or a parent, or a loved one, the information is probably online. Just that starting point, Amy, that you might point somebody to... They've looked at their schedule. They're ready. They give them that at first week and just that anxiety gets overwhelming. What's your advice for maybe that first-year student or someone coming back to campus who hasn't been on campus for a while?

Amy Bergerson

I think that's a great opportunity to meet up with a student success advocate. The advocates, as I mentioned earlier, really are here to help students with any kind of question that they have. They can help you walk through some stress tips, managing your stress tips, test-taking anxiety, study skills, setting up a schedule for how you're going to actually tackle all of the studying, and classes, and all of those things that you have to take care of. They also can help you manage technology. They can help you locate technology.

They're willing to meet you on campus. We will have some of our SSAs on campus. They come to you. You don't have to come to our office. We can meet you in the Union or the library, if you'd like, with our appropriate physical distancing, to talk in person. Also, they can talk with you virtually and are just great people for bouncing off your questions, your concerns, fears. They're great for validating that you're on a good path, and they're also excellent problem solvers. If anybody's sort of struggling in those first few days, I would definitely start there and then they can get you connected to any other services that can help support specific issues that you might be having.

Chris Nelson

Excellent. I also want to welcome Dr. Lori McDonald. Lori is the vice president for Student Affairs. Dr. McDonald, just a couple of questions we had about logistics. Maybe you could talk about the student experience. Where do they pick their IDs up? I know we're giving out masks. What's the process for that? Maybe just from that perspective, again, for that student who might be coming to campus for the first time, who hasn't kind of learned all the ropes of coming back and forth to the University of Utah. What's your advice? What's the update from Student Affairs?

VP Lori McDonald

Yes. Thank you very much. I will note that those student success advocates are really good at all of these questions as well in getting students connected, not only to what offices to connect with, but where they are. We are excited. The Union Building is open. Our student IDs are there. We are also providing a complimentary face covering, face mask, for students who would like one. Those are available at the Union front desk, at the Union recreation desk, at the front desk of the Eccles Student Life Center, which opened yesterday, as well as at our Sandy Center in Sandy for students living in the city. You do need to give a student ID number for that, but those are available for pickup.

The Office of the Dean of Students is a good source for some of that connection with other resources that students may not know of and also, some tips for communicating with faculty and just trying to really find answers to questions, and maybe finding more questions that they're not not sure what to ask. All of these resources are available. As Amy mentioned, we've got websites, but they're available, limited in person, with some precautions and some mitigation strategies, but also, quite a bit virtually. That includes our counseling center, which has counseling appointments available virtually, and some groups. Our Mindfulness Center has some drop-in hours that are virtual as well.

So really trying to take precautions. We're excited to have students back on campus and back into their academic experiences, but we're doing so very carefully.

Chris Nelson

Excellent. Thank you. So, we've talked about space a little bit, and so a new term I had not heard before until we got this question is “online class nomads.” That was submitted by a question. And so the question was, are we worried about online class nomads? If you've got a class and it's online, and if 15 minutes later you've got an in-person class that will be available on campus. We talked about the Marriott Library. We've talked about the Union Building. Again, maybe, Harish, the advice for students from the library's perspective. Obviously, it's still a gathering space, just practice physical distancing?

Harish Maringanti

Yes. Again, now we encourage all the students to be aware and to educate themselves of University of Utah safety precautions. These were put in place incorporating the public health guidelines. In terms of access, we are doing our best to maximize the space for students.

And as I mentioned, some of the spaces can be reserved ahead of time. But we do have some of the spaces where you can come in. It's first come, first served and social distancing and face coverings, these are all required while you are in the building.

Chris Nelson

Excellent. And again, the campus is moving in large part online, but again, as everyone has talked about, the campus is open. And as long as people are wearing masks and practicing physical distancing and washing their hands and taking all the basic safety precautions, we definitely want to have that vibrant campus community.

A question about welcome back to campus. I think the biggest adaptation of this year is all those exciting events for those first-year students coming back to campus are changing a little bit. I'm not sure who the best person to update us.

Amy Bergerson

The Office of Orientation and Transition is still hosting “Weeks of Welcome” this fall. And if you download the mobile U app, you will be able to see, starting next week, a list of all the different important getting the year started activities that will be occurring. Most of them will be virtual, some will be in person.

There will be information fairs with different organizations so that students can meet folks from those organizations and decide where they want to be engaged with things. Some of those will be virtual, and there will be a limited number of that in the Union, I believe, the first week as well.

We also will be having a number of meetups for different sort of organizations, the Campus Life Mentors, the Crimson Mentors program, which are mentoring programs for new students that are still open if folks want to sign up for that on the orientation and transition website. They'll be meeting up.

But there will be a number of different activities. We'll be sending out an amazing new student welcome video at the end of next week to just welcome all, especially our new students, with the president and an amazing faculty speaker and a student speaker. It is just a way to get you excited about the new year coming.

So definitely download the mobile U app and click on the orientation tile in that app. And you'll be able to see all the full schedule of everything we'll be having with Weeks of Welcome.

Chris Nelson

Excellent. I also had a question about work study. For people who have questions about work study on campus jobs, anyone in a position to answer that one? Amy, again.

Amy Bergerson

I believe there are still some work study jobs on campus and many of those are going to be jobs that students can do virtually. And so you'll work through financial aid and the human resources website where we do post all of our jobs for students. And you'll see that the jobs there will tell you if they're going to be in person or virtual, but there will still be work study available for students who are interested in that.

Chris Nelson

We touched on this a little bit, but the university campus is remarkable. It's one of the homes of the internet when it was founded many years ago. We've got access to the Adobe Creative Suite. There are so many technology resources. For students who have specific questions about those technical issues, everything from WiFi to what I can access, what's the best place for them to start?

Harish Maringanti

Yes. So, campus did release a student guide for digital resources and the best place for any technology-related question is to reach out to campus help desk. They do have 24-7 support all through the year. And for less urgent issues, you can always send an email to

In addition to these avenues, the library does have a chat service. So, at any time, if students need help, you could log onto the library website and you would see the “chat with us” option popup. You could always reach out to us that way. And again, when we are open, you could simply drop by and seek help.

Chris Nelson

Excellent. Our next Return to Campus Webinar is scheduled for August 20 at 2 p.m. And we will be hearing from President Ruth Watkins as well as our Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Dan Reed, as well as our Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Michael Good.

We know there are a lot of questions. There are questions around tuition and testing and a lot of the logistics. And we encourage anyone with those specific questions to visit our We have a hotline out there, a lot of resources on campus and if you can't find it online, please use one of those phone numbers that is on that website to call us and we'll do our best to answer questions. I want to thank all of our panelists this morning for taking some time. And just, I have to say, I'm getting excited about fall semester as well. It's going to be different, but we look forward to seeing everybody very, very soon. So, thank you all.

Return to Campus webinar series schedule:

Thursday, August 20 | 2-2:30 p.m.

Registration is no longer needed. This event and the future webinars can all be watched on The webinars will be recorded, posted, and available for on-demand viewing shortly after the event.