It can often be difficult for students and administration to find time to connect, which is why Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Keene State College (KSC), Kemal Atkins, is implementing a program to bridge this gap.
“Konversations with Kemal” began on Feb. 24 and Atkins began his first Friday of his sessions.
Atkins said he feels that it is a good way to connect with students.
“[It gives me] the opportunity to reserve some time to speak with students more in a more focus[ed] way on topics that they may have on their minds about their experience here at Keene State and give them a chance to tell me some things that they like a lot about being here or some ideas they may have,” Atkins said.
Atkins began at KSC in June 2014 as the VP for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and brought with him 19 years of experience.
On Feb. 23, Atkins sent out an email regarding his office hours, which stated “Konversations with Kemal are opportunities for you to meet with me to discuss issues that are important to your experience at Keene State College. Individual students, small groups, entire student organizations, and groups of friends, you’re invited to share your ideas, concerns, and solutions that might enhance your KSC experience.”
Eric Walsh, a junior at KSC had the opportunity to meet with Atkins during his first few sessions.
“He took almost an hour out of his day to hear me out and work with me to create a really bright future for myself, and maybe even gave him a few ideas for stuff to happen on our own campus and it was awesome,” said Walsh.
Atkins said that if the groups that sign up are large enough, they will even reserve space for the groups in order to be sure that they can all meet.
KSC senior Marissa DePolo said “I see Kemal a lot because I work with Student Government but it would be nice to have that informal setting where I could go and talk to him about budget cuts and student involvement and how in the future we are expected to handle and deal with that and stuff of that nature because that has been a huge issue and a huge change I have seen progress.”
These are the types of topics, among others, are what Atkins said he hopes students will come to him for and anything they may feel is of concern.
“Things are happening, the landscape of higher education is changing, what students experience is different than what I experienced even though I try to stay as close as I possibly can, I’m not going through it. My daughter just graduated college and even her experience is different and I spend a lot of time with students already I want to broaden the lines of communication more and give more students an opportunity to have a conversation with me,” Atkins said.
Walsh said he felt that it would have been more of an interview and back and forth question and answer, but was pleasantly surprised when Atkins wanted candid ideas from students.
“After going, it was different than what I thought, it was actually more of him wanting to hear my thoughts on things and turned out we had a really good conversation about him giving me advice moving forward after Keene State since I will be graduating in the fall,” Walsh said.
Students will continue to have this opportunity each Friday and can make appointments by clicking on the link and following the steps through the email that was sent to the entire campus.
Atkins said, “I’m looking forward to students reaching out and coming in to chat, I enjoy those conversations and listening to their ideas and things that can enrich their experience and our mission is to educate students inside and outside the classroom for them to be even more successful when they leave.”
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org