Parents and Families  
 

eNewsletter Archives: October 2009

 
Introducing Our President
Break from Study, Break for Friends
Student Progess Reports
AQ Service in Action 2009
Crossing Boarders, Touching Hearts
H1N1 Flu Information
Student Health 101
Intramurals Continues Fim and Fitness without a Facility
Exam Cram
Exam Packs
Save the Date for Junior Saints Weekend
 
Introducing Our President:
C. Edward Balog, Ph.D. Dr. Balog came to Aquinas College in 2000 as Provost and Dean of Faculty, and Professor of History. He added Interim President to his list of duties in 2006, and then became the sixth president of the College in 2007.

He has implemented an aggressive and highly successful enrollment and retention plan; he presided over the opening of the Grace Hauenstein Library and celebrated its LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council; he oversaw the renovation of the second floor of the Academic Building into faculty offices, classrooms, and student lounge areas; and was instrumental in the planning and oversight of building a 64-bed student apartment building on campus. Currently phase one of a two-phase renovation and addition to the existing field house is underway which will create a new Sports and Fitness Center that will benefit the athletic programs as well as the general wellness of the campus community.
 
Under his leadership Aquinas became the first member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference to install an artificial playing surface on its soccer field; was the first college in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Business; and was the first college in West Michigan to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to underwrite a LEED certified total gut rehab of a house in southwest Grand Rapids.
 
Dr. Balog is a member of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment Steering Committee and promoted the establishment of a Center for Sustainability on campus to implement sustainable business practices within the College's internal operations. The Center is a student-run, faculty-directed organization which collects and disseminates information, conducts conferences and workshops, and organizes sustainability initiatives on campus.
 
The Science Initiative, a collaborative campaign of the Natural Sciences Department, the Nursing Department, the Mathematics Department, and the Advancement Department, was established under Dr. Balog's leadership in 2003. The Initiative has been successful in establishing support for scholarships and undergraduate research projects, support for maintaining and licensing research equipment, and funding for the purchase of scientific instrumentation to renovate and modernize classrooms and labs.
 
With Dr. Balog's support, the College has implemented a Common Reading Experience for incoming freshmen that creates an immediate connection intellectually, socially, and philosophically with the greater community of faculty, staff, parents, and alumni.
 
Building upon President Emeritus Norbert Hruby's vision for lifelong learning, Dr. Balog promoted the partnership between the Aquinas Emeritus College and the Osher Foundation to establish the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Aquinas College, part of a national network of lifelong learning institutes offering a broad range of intellectually stimulating, non-credit courses targeted toward the over-50 population.
 
He has recently approved the Fostering Success Scholarship program at Aquinas which is awarded to two young adults each year who are aging out of the Michigan Foster Care System. The scholarship is designed to remove barriers to higher education by providing tuition, room, board, and books to its recipients.
 
Dr. Balog and his wife, Catherine Logsdon, have four children:  Melanie, Edward, Andrew, and Madeline.
 
Break from Study, Break for Friends
By: Emily Jung, Counseling
Break from Study, Break for Friends Fall Break: The big sigh after eight weeks of study, sports, and socializing. For most college upperclassmen, this is a much welcomed break; an opportunity to rejuvenate before hitting the books again.  For the college freshman, Fall Break may seem like a trip back in time where reentering the world they left behind can be awkward, uncomfortable and maybe even daunting. Many freshmen will travel home to visit family and friends during break. Some students find that their hometown friendships have remained the same, and that familiar connectedness is still alive. For others it is evident early on that they have changed and so have their high school friends resulting in a yearning for what use to be. For some of you, you may be surprised to be consulted on these matters. For others of you, it is a reaffirmation of your role with your son or daughter. You have been through this stage of life. It is the stage of figuring out who you are and who your true friends are. Remember what it was like for you to lose touch with good friends. How did you react? What did you do to cope? How did you decide whether a friend was worth keeping or not?
 
If your child is feeling disconnected from their friends, encourage them to communicate with them - letters, phone calls, visits. Tell them to share with their friends the news and stories of their lives. Reassure them that their friends care about their recent life events. Before long future travels home will be met with less transition stress and actually be something students are both comfortable with and look forward to. You can offer insight on these matters, or you can just provide a listening ear for your child.
 
It is natural for your child’s relationships to change. Some may end, others may grow. Your relationship with your son or daughter is going to evolve, as well. When they talk to you about feeling as though they have a foot in two different worlds it is an opportunity for you to establish communication with your child as an adult.
 
While spending time with friends will be important to your child they should also take advantage of this opportunity to catch up on their rest. Your college student has been inundated with papers, quizzes, extra- curricular and co-curricular activities which result in an overwhelming need to kick back a bit and just plain relax. Many students appreciate this week in time to get caught up academically. Encourage your student to strike a balance during this mid-point in the semester and they will most definitely return to campus refreshed and renewed.
 
Semester Progress Reports
By: Dr. Chad Gunnoe, Provost
Aquinas College introduced the use of mid-term progress reports during the 2008-09 academic year. These reports are intended to provide students with an indication of how they are doing in their classes, and give them an opportunity to seek assistance early through our various academic support programs. They also give faculty advisors and College support staff a composite overview of how the student is faring.
 
In our experience, students appreciate the feedback and the opportunity to work with faculty and support staff to ensure academic success before the semester has progressed too far.
 
Aquinas utilizes the "S" "M" "U" approach as the barometer for academic progress at the mid-term point in the semester.  The following defines how a particular ranking is assigned within an individual class.
  • "S" (satisfactory) - Acceptable work in class: regularly attends class, regularly completes assignments, comprehends material, competent performance on quizzes, tests, and written assignments to this juncture.
  • "M"(marginal) - Marginal work in class: misses class on occasion, missing assignments, any or all of these.  Not fully competent performance on quizzes, tests, and written assignments.  If the student continues at the same level, he/she may be graded below a "C" at the end of the semester. Change in study habits (including note taking and faithful attendance of classes), seeking assistance from instructor, or seeking tutoring assistance would be highly recommended.
  • "U" (unsatisfactory) - Unsatisfactory work in class: regularly misses class, regularly misses assignments, not comprehending material in class.  See instructor and faculty advisor immediately to develop a plan to succeed. If a pathway to success is not apparent, the student should consider dropping the class.
Please note: The descriptions listed above are guidelines only.  It is up to the discretion of the faculty member to define what the reports mean in their particular class.  It is also important to note that these reports are intended for informational purposes only and will not be listed on the student's final transcript.
 
There are several actions a student may take to improve academic performance. 
  • Contact the instructor as soon as possible to discuss the situation.
  • Contact Academic and Learning Services for assistance in note taking, test taking and study skills.
  • Contact the faculty advisor to discuss potential schedule changes.
It is our ambition to take a proactive approach and assist students if possible with timely and appropriate interventions.  The faculty and staff at Aquinas are interested in student success and the mid-term progress report is one tool to facilitate that. Our goal is to create engaged students who control the quality of their work. We hope the progress reports empower them to take action.
 
AQ Service In Action 2009
By:  Eric Bridge, Coordinator of Service-Learning
Project Unite: Love Where You Live Over 570 AQ students, staff and faculty participated in Project Unite: Love Where You Live! as part of new student orientation. Groups served at 12 sites in and around the Aquinas campus. The project introduced new students to the Dominican charism of Service, engaged students in the Grand Rapids community, and challenged the Class of 2013 to become the "Class with a Community Conscience."  AQ members sorted and organized library books, cleaned classrooms, painted, repaired homes, played Bingo with the elderly, worked in gardens, met local business owners, and much more.
 
These are a few quotes from past AQ service-learning trip student participants:
"Amazing" "Fantastic"
"A lot of fun" "Indescribable!"
The best thing of my life" "I wish I had started doing these from the beginning!"

 
Check out AQ Service-Learning Fall Break Service-Learning Programs!
Programs take place October 16-24.  AQ students will be serving in six communities including:
  • Nazareth Farm and Bethlehem Farm - Students spend one week in West Virginia, working and living among the people.  Community, simplicity, prayer and service are the four components that characterize these programs.  Work includes home rehabilitation (roofing, painting, carpentry).  Group reflection emphasizes social justice and what it means in communities today. 
  • Jonah House - Students spend a week in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area working with community activists for peace and non-violence.  Variety of activities range from White House vigils to social justice education to service at a soup kitchen. 
  • Acadia National Park, Maine - Students head to Maine and participate in rugged outdoor work while living on Acadia island for a week.  Service includes working with the National Park on outdoor environmental projects. 
  • Re-Member - An opportunity to experience life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Learn about and demonstrate solidarity with the Oglala Lakota through site visits, cultural immersion, speakers and service.  Projects include making, transporting and placing bunk beds for the children of the Reservation. 
  • Dominican Republic - Students work with a doctor, a sister, and the local community of people living just across the border in the mountainous area of the Dominican Republic.  Students assist the doctor and staff with running medical clinics in rural villages. 
  • Locally - Grand Rapids: If you're a student who's staying around campus over break, a seventh local option is available.  Free on-campus housing is available to resident students willing to commit to the AQ Habitat Home build Wednesday through Saturday, October 21-24, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
 
AQ Americorps Michigan Service Scholars $1,000 Scholarship Program
Students who enroll complete 300 hours of qualified and documented service and receive a $1,000 scholarship.  As part of the Americorps program, students have the choice when to redeem the scholarship. Funds may be used to pay off qualifying loans for example. For more information, contact Eric Bridge, Service Learning, at bridgeri@aquinas.edu or (616) 632-2490.
 
Into The Streets Week: October 5-10
Sponsored by CAVA (Community Action Volunteers of Aquinas), this national program inspires students to serve during the week with their local communities.  Students can sign up for one or more events with a variety of local non-profit agencies working on an assortment of social issues.    
 
Join AQ Students Currently Serving by:
  • Literacy tutoring at Congress Elementary School through GRPS Schools of Hope
  • Mentoring at William C. Abney Academy
  • Serving lunch at Veteran's Park in downtown Grand Rapids
  • Math tutoring at New Branches Public Schools Academy
  • Shaping the Arts at Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities
  • Teaching Religious Education at St. Thomas the Apostle Church
  • Giving blood and volunteering at on-campus blood drives
  • Preparing meals at Ronald McDonald House or Emergency Shelters
  • Teaching English Language Learners through the WORD program
  • Coaching Youth Sports
AQ Service Learning
 
For more information, encourage AQ students to contact:
Eric Bridge, Service Learning
E-mail: bridgeri@aquinas.edu
Phone: (616) 632-2490
Brian Himes, CAVA Coordinator
E-mail: himesbri@aquinas.edu
Phone: (616) 632-2487
 
Crossing Boarders... Touching Hearts... Transforming Lives
A Journey to Solidarity through the Short Term Mission Experience
Join us on Saturday, November 7, for a day workshop on the short term mission trip experience.
Morning session includes: Afternoon session includes:
  • What is mission in the short term context?
  • The preparation (deeper than the “what to bring” list) and insertion phases of the cross cultural experience.
  • How do I keep my experience alive? The re-entry phase.
  • The integration and action needed after the experience in light of Catholic Social Teaching
  • Opportunity to network and share with others who have a heart for mission and justice.
>>Download More Information & Registration Materials (pdf)
 
H1N1 Flu Information
By: Kimberly Texley-Quigg, RNC, NP, Health Services Director
Ahhh fall is in the air!  Students are back on campus, classes and activities are already in full swing, and most of us are still hoping for a few more days of warm summer weather.  Staying healthy is probably not everyone's major focus.  But keeping our students, faculty, and staff healthy is our focus. That's why we are writing to share important information about the H1N1 strain of flu (formerly called swine flu).
 
First, be assured that officials at Aquinas have been preparing throughout the summer to address what public health officials expect to be a number of H1N1 cases this fall as students return to classes at Aquinas and across the country.  As with all public health concerns, we are monitoring the situation and continuing to follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kent County Health Department.
 
The H1N1 virus is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by infected people. Aquinas College students, faculty, and staff members are asked to stay informed about the H1N1 virus, its symptoms (fever, cough, aches, sore throat and fatigue). More information about the H1N1 flu can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site and on Aquinas' Health and Wellness Web site.
 
You are urged to take the following precautions to stay healthy:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  If you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • If you get sick, avoid contact with others.  Please stay in your residence hall room, home, or apartment, away from class and other public areas, until you are fever free for 24 hours.  Limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice, to avoid crowds, and take other "social distancing" measures.
  • Get vaccinated. Vaccinations should be available at the Health and Wellness Center in early October
The Aquinas College Health and Wellness staff in collaboration with the Administration continues to meet to evaluate, update communication, and prepare for the flu season. "Good practice" informational flyers, will be distributed as new information becomes available and other appropriate actions will be taken to help ensure the health and well-being of our Aquinas campus community.  As developments warrant, you can expect additional information to be posted on the Aquinas homepage as well as the Health and Wellness web site.
 
Thank you for your help in keeping Aquinas College a healthy and thriving community.
 
Student Health 101
By: Veronica Beitner, Coordinator of Wellness Services
Student Health 101

As a service to our families here at Aquinas, we are providing an online subscription to Student Health 101 for both your student and yourself. Student Health 101 is a monthly health and wellness magazine just for college students and their parents. Each issue contains valuable information that will help your student make better decisions while in college, and can help you with a better understanding of the health and wellness challenges that face today’s students.

 

Each month, you’ll receive an e-mail with the latest issue of the parents-only Parent Perspective, along with the Student Health 101 issue that your student will receive. Please take a few minutes to read the issues each month, as we believe that they can be a valuable resource for you and your family.

 
>>Read the September issue of the Parent Perspective
 
This September issue has some great transition-related articles including:
  • What Your Professors Really Expect of You
  • Start a Healthy Exercise Routine Now
  • Beat Stress Through Meditation
  • Become Your Own Master Chef
  • You Hold the Keys to Reducing Sexual Assault
  • PLUS: Actress Christina Ricci Speak Out on Sexual Violence
  • And much more...
You are also invited to read the accompanying Student Health 101 issue for our students.
 
If you missed it, be sure to read the Back-to-School issue, with money management, dealing with roommates, getting involved on campus and more.
 
Best of luck to you and your student this semester!
 
Intramurals Continues Fun and Fitness without a Facility
By Dave Hammer, Men's Head Basketball Coach and Intramural Director
AQ Intramurals On August 26, Aquinas College announced the construction of a $12 million athletic facility that will enhance college athletics for many years to come.  As excitement builds for the construction of this Sports and Fitness Center, plans are under way to keep an active and highly participative intramural program running.

The Athletic Department, in conjunction with the College's faculty and staff, is committed to keeping students physically active as well as mentally stimulated. While this year's program will not be as detailed as years past, students will still have opportunities in both the fall and spring semesters for fun and fitness through our intramural program. 
 
In the fall we are running football, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. The spring semester will bring basketball, floor hockey and softball.  Our weight lifting equipment in lower St. Joseph's hall will be available to students, as well as the cardio equipment in lower Regina Hall. AQ Nights will continue to be scheduled at various community recreation centers around the city where students can take advantage of everything our local health clubs have to offer. Organized activities several night a week will be offered at the CAT (Catholic Central Activities Center) to round out our off campus options for students.
 
The Healthy Living Initiative is being demonstrated by faculty, staff and students at Aquinas.  Twice a week during the lunch hour a combination of cardio, core and relaxation techniques are being used to effectively stimulate the body and mind.  A positive environment where everyone is welcome is key to fully developing and appreciating the benefits of healthy living. "It's like recess," one participant said. "It gives our minds a break and we come back feeling better and more productive in the afternoon after one of Coach Woj's routines."
 
Our academic offerings in Health, Physical Education and Recreation will continue to be available to students with classes in Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga and Nutrition, Exercise and Stress. 
 
Check out the Intramural website for upcoming events. Thank you for your understanding this year.  We look forward to the opening of the new facility in the fall 2010.
 
Exam Cram
By: Francine Paolini, Co-Director of the Grace Hauenstein Library
AQ Exam Cram Question: What do neck and shoulder rubs, math tutoring, craisins and electronic databases all have in common?

Answer: They are all part of a new AQ campus event called Exam Cram. Exam Cram is a concentrated effort to offer academic support to students the week before final exams. The support comes in the form of one-on-one tutoring, moderated study sessions, research assistance and writing help. So where do shoulder rubs and craisins fit in?  Well they are two of the important components of Exam Cram that address the body, which include nightly refreshments, holistic massage, yoga and wellness tips. Most of the activities take place in and around the Grace Hauenstein Library. The next Exam Cram will be held December 6 through December 13. The details will be announced at the beginning of December.
 
This event is brought to you through the combined efforts of the Division of Student Affairs and the Grace Hauenstein Library.
 
Exam Cram Trivia Question:  What was the most popular snack food during the last Exam Cram?
Answer: Why craisins, of course!
 
Exam Packs
By: Lorin Bartony, Residence Life Graduate Assistant
Exam Time Do you think that your student would enjoy receiving a care package from you right before the start of exam week?  Want to send your student a special message letting them know that you can't wait to see them for holiday break?  Aquinas College Residence Hall Council is here to make this process easier for you.  For years, AQ RHA has provided families the opportunity to purchase a goodie bag for their student that will be delivered right to their room just in time for exams, and this year is no different.  Stuffed with sweet, salty, and healthy treats, an "Exam Pack" will provide your student with enough brain food to satisfy those midnight munchies that often accompany late-night cram sessions.  You can even include a personalized message for your student that will be included in the delivery.  By purchasing an Exam Pack for your student, you not only support AQ RHA, but proceeds will also benefit a local charity organization.  As the semester rolls on, keep an eye on your mailbox for ordering information from AQ RHA.
 
Save the Date for Junior Saints Weekend!
by Heather Hall, Director of Student Activities and Orientation and Robert Abid ('12) Secretary of the Aquinas College Programming Board
Junior Saints Weekend Is there a child in your home who wants to see your AQ student at college, or just simply misses them?

Please save the date for Junior Saints weekend, sponsored by Aquinas College Campus Life, Residence Life, Residence Housing Association and the AQ Programming Board.  Junior Saints Weekend will take place January 29, 30, and 31 at the end of our traditional Saint Thomas Aquinas Week!  Siblings, or those whom your AQ student loves like a sibling (cousins, neighbors, and/or kids they babysit, etc)  are invited to participate in a variety of activities we have in store while spending the weekend living on campus. Commuter students are also encouraged to bring their "Junior Saints" to all of the activities and participate as if they were living here! 
 
More information about Junior Saints weekend will be available after the Thanksgiving Break, but for now, make sure to clear your calendars for the weekend of January 29. A minimal fee may apply for group activities in the Grand Rapids area. Please visit the Campus Life web site for updated information after the holiday.
 
We hope that you as parents and families will enjoy that kid-free weekend! Our committee is working on special hotel and entrainment options for you so that you may enjoy the city while your kids are together on campus. Consider it our gift... some time for you!  Packages for parents and/or families will also be highlighted on the aforementioned website.
 
Enjoy your fall break with your students and mark your calendars for a great weekend of fun, food, and family!