Student Affairs

2013 Virtual Case Study (VCS) Scenario

It is a beautiful day at Sunnyvale University. The winter snows have finally melted, the first wave of multi-colored crocuses have begun to sprout through the ground, Frisbees are flying through the air, and the undergraduates at the school have once again begun to raise a ruckus in the community.

Sunnyvale is located at the edge of a quaint New England town. Founded in the mid-1800’s the school has been an integral part of the area since its doors first opened. As the institution grew, both in full-time students and in prestige, the school has slowly encroached upon the community proper. A few townhouses, to help relieve the housing crunch, have been built and some graduate programs are now located in refurbished buildings near the town center. Over the past decade the methodical advance upon the area’s borders has frayed the symbiotic relationship between the two entities. Late night parties have disrupted the genteel fabric of the community. Roaming groups of students have been a unending nuisance during the weekend hours. Yes, the undergraduates continually pump needed dollars into the town’s economy, but at what price?

The town/gown relationship became even more frayed during last year’s Sestercentennial celebration when it seemed the community was constantly under siege by students and even alumni. It was at this point that the Mayor and Town Council met with the President and a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees to address this worsening issue. Both sides agreed on the critical nature of the matter and pledged to come up with a solution to the problem.

As Dean of Students at Sunnyvale University, you are basking in the early morning sunlight radiating into your office’s large bay windows. This is your 20th year at the institution you love and cherish. Your two children were pretty much raised at the school and your wife is a respected member of the faculty. However, the calm is suddenly broken as your secretary tells you the President is on the phone for you. "How odd," you say out loud to no one in particular. "Why would the President himself call me?"

"Aloysius, how are you this morning," the President asks.

"Fine, Bill," you reply. "What’s the problem?" "The Mayor and his people met with myself and members of the Board last night about town/gown relations. It wasn’t pretty. We all want to improve matters, but are stuck on the how. No one imagines the problems will be solved overnight, but we want to have a game plan. This is where you come in. I want you to put together a committee to come up a plan. I don’t want options for us to ruminate over. I want the best idea you can come up with. I want you to chair this group, put on your thinking caps and present your plan to us, and by us I mean the town’s people and the Board and I."

"I should be able to do that," you answer. "What’s our timeline?"

"I can give you three weeks," came the quick reply.

"That doesn’t give this committee a lot of time," you state.

"Sorry, Aloysius, but that’s the time frame," the President answers.

"No problem. I’ll set things up and have a Powerpoint presentation in that time."

"Good. By the way, how are your daughters doing? Haven’t they graduated?"

"Yes," you reply. "Rebecca is in her second year of grad school in Speech and Sophie is working in the theater in New York City."

"That’s great," the President responds. "How is it being empty-nesters."

"Love it," you reply. "I’ll get back to you."

Hanging up the phone you immediately contact your Directors of Residence Life and Student Activities. Seasoned staff members and savvy administrators they would be ideal for the quick turnaround needed. You also contact the Deputy Mayor, a long-time friend, to be part of the think tank.

At the first meeting everyone quickly agrees that something like this is long overdue. There have been occasional articles in both the school newspaper and local publication about the town/gown problems. Emails blasts have been sent to all students, and the issue has been half-heartedly discussed in the University Senate. However, there has never been a well-orchestrated, on-going strategy by either the school, community, or a combined effort. You know that whatever shape your committee’s report may take, part of the plan is to utilize social media. The how and what will be fleshed out over the three-week time period.

Your task is to create an engaging and informative PowerPoint (or PDF) presentation for the President, Board of Trustees, and town representatives. Part of your strategy must include utilizing social media.