ACUI research studies UH Student Centers as a national model for student engagement - University of Houston
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July 21, 2022

The University of Houston’s Student Centers were part of a nation-wide study conducted by the Association of College Unions International to how the college union contributes to student learning and student success.

The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) conducted a study to determine the impact of college unions on student success, student learning and community building. A 12-person research team studied six different college unions at institutions across the country, including the University of Houston’s Student Centers.

“The Student Centers were honored to be selected as part of the study regarding the impact College Unions/Student Centers have on campus. It was a great opportunity to pull together focus groups of students, staff and faculty to get their feedback and perspective on the efficacy of our work.” Eve Esch, Director, Student Centers

Researchers identified several defining characteristics of college unions that improve the college experience and increase student engagement, such as curricular and co-curricular opportunities for student learning and shared decision-making structures with students.

With regards to curricular and co-curricular opportunities for student learning, the research team found that the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Center for Student Involvement, both housed within the Student Centers, host events and activities that allow students to engage in dialogue with a diverse group of peers and learn from their fellow students. Other programs include leadership training and development opportunities that challenge students to engage in critical thinking and prepares them for life beyond college and workshops that assist students with understanding their own identities and the culture of other members of the UH community.

“It was a privilege to have our Student Centers, Center for Involvement and Center for Diversity and Inclusion participate in this research. It is always nice to have the leadership experiences, student programs and support services which we offer be validated by researchers in your field. It is a testament to the work our staff do on a daily basis to support Student Learning and Student Success!” Keith T. Kowalka, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

The Student Centers also engaged in shared decision-making structures with students via the Student Centers Policy Board. This advisory board recommends all policy for Student Centers programs, services, facilities, operations, and renovation and major project planning that ultimately impacts the entire University of Houston community. The board is composed of a majority of students, as well as several faculty and staff members.

More about the Student Centers: The Student Centers, which includes the SC Satellite and the North and South Student Centers, are the heart of student activity and offer a wide variety of useful products, services, and opportunities to meet and connect with other people. The SC is home to clean, comfortable lounge space; meeting rooms for conducting organization meetings, social events, and educational programs; and offices for student organizations and student organizational support. The SC Satellite offers dining services along with 2 television lounges. Other available services include a quiet study lounge with Internet connections, a C-store, a Starbucks, and the popular Satellite Games Room.