Marie Kinzer 0

Ensuring Excellence at NDNU

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To Whom It Concerns;

I am writing on behalf of the undersigned in regards to the prospective elimination of the position of Director of Retention and Student Services currently held by Mike Palmieri at Notre Dame de Namur University. Not only do we feel that the loss of this particular office would be detrimental to the overall quality of student life-both resident and commuter-we as commuters, whom have had the benefit of witnessing on a daily basis just what an integral part Mr. Palmieri is to that equation, are keenly aware of how the loss of the individual would impact the overall sense of community and even family we feel at this institution. While we understand that the creation of this position and the employment of Mr. Palmieri has been in previous years funded by an outside HSI part A grant which will end at the conclusion of the 2016 fiscal year, we feel compelled to urge those parties responsible for budgeting to find funding for the continuation of this position and employment of Mike Palmieri.

Although, it is unlikely that many students have ever heard of a Director of Retention prior to their arrival at NDNU, as it is still an uncommon position, it could be considered a highly underutilized forward thinking concept. The position itself is as brilliant as it is simple; asking the questions: What keeps students returning, what causes students to leave, and what can be done to increase the former? As earning a college degree has increasingly become a minimum standard in just about every career field, the number of students who simply don’t finish has likewise increased. The results of having dedicated personnel working to correct this glaring disconnect from prospective student to graduate are perhaps not yet easily measured but the impact on the individuals should not be discounted. Especially not at a school such as NDNU which exists on a knife’s edge of cost and growth, where each individual’s return and success has a much larger effect on the campus community as a whole.

Having the right person for this position is additionally paramount to the program and participating institution’s successful implementation of creating the adaptable environment that must be fostered in order to maintain a competitive and desirable atmosphere. NDNU would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable person to fill this jack of all trades position than Mike Palmieri, and it is with great certainty that I can say, in this my thoughts would be echoed by any student who has found his or her way to Mr. Palmieri’s office. The position on paper may exist within clear cut lines, but the human interaction aspect of it has created a need for someone who not only understands but can embrace and work within the shades of gray that actually make up the day to day requirements of such a job.

In regards to Mike Palmieri, himself, I can think of numerous times where I have watched him aid, support, and encourage my fellow students throughout the past academic year. He has universally made himself available as an ear to bend, a guide to find direction from, and a kind face when life gets a little overwhelming. One of my fellow students, who kindly shared her story, reminded me just how much it’s the little things he does that has allowed those who frequent the commuter lounge to find a sense of community and family we might otherwise miss out on since we do not live on campus. We all have our own stories, often times they can seem similar, but to us they’re special, important, because they are ours, and her story could easily seem typical to that of many incoming freshman, but Mike took the time with her as he does with all who seek him out to recognize her story as unique. He chooses to see the individual and as a result vastly improves the quality of student life to each person. She could have ended up feeling like yet another nameless face in the crowd, but instead she felt valued. This is exactly the kind of experience which inspires students to continue to thrive in an increasingly high pressure academic environment.

My story could also easily fall under nameless face in the crowd, a transfer student from the military might not be the average, but the self-doubt that accompanies the start of any journey certainly could be considered so. What came as something of a surprise to me was not that I didn’t fit in, but that I did and furthermore people looked up to me, sought me out to study with, to seek guidance from, to bend my own ear. If it weren’t for Mike, I might not have been able to understand this, in my mind, very strange occurrence. Once more he withheld judgement on what might seem a rather silly problem and simply listened, and as result I was able to find my own semblance of balance. I may associate this growth of character years later with NDNU, but I will also remember the individual who enabled it occur, as will most of my current peers and those who have come before me these past five years.

As a member of a very large commuter community somewhere around 75%, I would once more request the university to find a way to retain Mr. Palmieri. His contributions to the school as living breathing entity as well as his ability to embody many of the school’s core values in his daily interactions with the students is a rare thing to find in anyone. On behalf of the undersigned, I thank you for your time and full consideration in this matter. We understand that there are many difficulties to running a successful and sustainable university, but entreat you to see that the continued employment of Mike Palmieri at NDNU as an investment in ensuring current and future students a unique and fulfilling academic experience.


Marie S. Kinzer

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