The Schulich School of Business achieved a spectacular 47.5 per cent participation rate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to win the 2020 NSSE Champion Cup. This is the third time the school claimed bragging rights to the coveted prize.
NSSE, or “Nessie,” is the National Survey of Student Engagement, which seeks input from first- and fourth-year York University undergraduates about their experiences at the University. Through NSSE, students contribute their insights and influence York University’s future direction. Organizers at York University challenged individual Faculties (except the Faculty of Education and Osgoode Hall Law School) to encourage participation in the survey through a little friendly competition. The Faculty achieving the highest percentage of complete responses wins the NSSE Champion Cup and bragging rights until the next survey.
In his opening comments, Richard Smith, who is York University’s Director of Institutional Research, Reporting and Analysis in the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis, noted that this year’s effort was remarkable. “The closing of campus due to the pandemic meant we had to stop most of our promotion and communication efforts to make room for emergency messaging,” said Smith. “Despite the challenges, York achieved an impressive participation rate of 32.9 per cent when all responses are counted. We felt it was important to get the community together [via Zoom] to celebrate this impressive accomplishment.”
In her remarks, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton praised the NSSE results. “I am delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the University’s progress with NSSE and to thank all of you who were most directly responsible for that progress,” said Lenton. “I remember when I was Provost and Vice-President Academic at York University in 2013, I sponsored the NSSE campaign because the University felt there was significant opportunity to increase our participation rate through promotion efforts. I asked Richard Smith and then Vice-Provost Students Janet Morrison, to put together a team to come up with a plan to improve our participation rates.
“That team eventually became the NSSE steering committee, which created the campaign that has increased York’s response rate dramatically for the next three survey administration years of 2014, 2017 and 2020,” said Lenton. “As a result, we are now able to rely on NSSE to inform a great deal of our institutional planning, both at the institutional level and at the faculty level.”
She noted that this year’s overall participation rate came in just shy of what was achieved in 2017 but had 675 more participants and set a York record for responses. Lenton described the accomplishment as remarkable given the disruption of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Lenton said that past survey data has been used to make improvements that directly benefit students. “Once NSSE results come out in the fall, we plan on running post-survey sessions to present and disseminate data to York students, faculty and staff. We will then hold community sessions to discuss the data and how we can use it to improve student supports and enhance the student experience.”
She thanked the NSSE Steering Committee and the 25-member Working Group of “NSSE Champions” for their efforts to make the survey a success. She also thanked prize sponsors Aramark, York Lanes and the Student Centre, and “the 6,237 students who took the time to tell us how they engage with York, what works, what doesn’t and how we can do better.”
Lenton then presented the NSSE Champion Cup to Dezsö J. Horváth, the Dean and Tanna H. Schulich Chair in Strategic Management at the Schulich School of Business. A beaming and very proud Horváth hoisted the NSSE Champion Cup high. He received hearty congratulations from York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton.
“On behalf of the Schulich School of Business, I am pleased and honoured to accept the 2020 NSSE Champion Cup – the third time that Schulich has taken the top spot since York University began participating!” said Horváth. “Let me first of all congratulate the many Schulich undergraduate students who made this happen. You achieved an impressive participation rate of nearly 50 per cent! “And what is even more remarkable is that you did this during a year like no other – a year none of us will ever forget!
“When it comes to undergraduate business students in Canada, Schulich students are among the best of the best!” said Horváth. “Every student who enters our school comes into the program not only with top marks …. but also proven leadership skills and entrepreneurial skills. To all of our students who took part this year: thank you for your enthusiasm and your dedication!”
Horváth took time to thank Schulich’s Associate Dean of Students Marcia Annisette, Lindsay Hillcoat, the school’s interim executive director of student services, and Keshia Grey, the former director of student and enrolment services at Schulich, for their important work in motivating the students to complete the survey.
Eric Mézin from Glendon College and Josephine Campanelli Zeeman from Environmental Studies accepted “most improved” awards on behalf of their Faculties. Glendon increased its participation rate by 8.1 per cent over 2017 and Environmental Studies increased it by 6.4 per cent.
Three participating students were drawn as winners of a $500 tuition waiver: Rebecca Sarchese, first-year student in Linguistics and Language Studies from Glendon; Fidelia Erugom, first-year student in Political Science from LAPS; and Paula Molina, graduating student in Criminology from LAPS.
NSSE gives students in their first and fourth years an opportunity to have a say in making meaningful change happen at York University. It is offered every three years and the 2020 edition of NSSE began Feb. 10 and ended on May 22. Students were asked how much time and effort they put into educationally rewarding activities and to what degree York University facilitates this involvement. The data gathered is a valuable resource for the University that helps it make decisions about changes that will benefit students.
Quick facts about this year’s NSSE:
- Student response rate (complete and partial) was 32.9 per cent.
- Overall winner of the inter-faculty contest: Schulich School of Business.
- Most improved response rate: Glendon College +8.4 per cent and Environmental Studies +6.4 per cent.
The online survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, asked first-year and graduating students in a four-year degree how they engaged with their studies and their campus. The results provide insights to York on what the University does well and what it could improve.
Data from previous NSSE surveys led to improvements in career advising: more programming and workshops by the Career Centre in career planning, the introduction of Career Peer Educators in 2018, and the expansion of the Career Fair websites. Career programming was also improved to meet the needs of targeted audiences, including new grads, graduate students, international students, Indigenous students, and students with disabilities. The 2017 data informed the expansion of Mental Health & Wellness services for students: more consultation and outreach with students to develop the University’s Mental Health and Wellness Strategy, the new Wellness Hub and the introduction of Peer Health Educators. NSSE data also contributed to the realignment of Student Counselling and Development, Student Accessibility Services and the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education.
By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor