Student Affairs Professional Development Committee

Upcoming Events:

Book Club  |  Hawk Topics  | Practice & Present

We will announce 17-18 soon!

2017-2018 Hawk Topics

Hawk Topics are one-hour discussions of issues of compelling interest to student-affairs professionals. Each discussion is informed by a short reading gleaned from academic journals or the popular press. Discussions are open to all.


Past Events

Book Club | Hawk Topics | Practice & Present

My Freshman Year Book Club

My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student

by Rebekah NathanMy Freshman Year book cover

Penguin Books, ISBN-10: 0143037471

When a cultural anthropologist enrolls in college as a new freshman, she experiences college life the way her students do, from orientation to living in the dorms, eating in the dining halls and beyond. The author shares her new perspectives in an eye-opening account that questions our assumptions and may challenge our views of ourselves, our students and our work.

Each month of the 2015-2016 academic year, a one-hour book club will meet to discuss a relevant chapter of My Freshman Year. All Student Affairs personnel are invited. In addition, a select panel of SA members will be invited to share their thoughts on specific chapters.

Participants must acquire their own books. Prices on sites such as Amazon run from $1.68 used to $12.00 new; $10.75 for Kindle.

To participate, contact Mike Ruwe: ext. 2-4194 or


Date Location Chapter Panel
W, Sep 16, 1 p.m. DE Conference Room (DE 1017) 1. Welcome to Any U Transition Programs, Campus Activities & Involvement Center
W, Oct 21, 1 p.m. UNCW Student Media Center (FUU 1049) 2. Life in the Dorms

Housing & Residence Life;

Office of Student Leadership & Engagement
M, Nov 16, 10 a.m. Topsail Island Room (FSC 2019) 3. Community and Diversity

Office of Diversity & Inclusion;

DOSA Diversity Committee;

Disability Resource Center

W, Jan 20,


UNCW Student Media Center (FUU 1049) 4. As Others See Us

Counseling Center;

International Programs

T, Feb 9,


DePalo Conference Room (DE 1017) 5. Academically Speaking

University Learning Center;

University Testing Services

M. Mar 21


Topsail Island Room (FSC 2019) 6. The Art of College Management

Office of the Dean of Students;

University College

T. April 12


DePalo Conference Room (DE 1017) 7. Lessons from My Year as a Freshman

Office of the Vice Chancellor;

DOSA Directors

The Spring 2017 Student Affairs Book Club.  We will be reading “The Road to Character” by David Brooks.

The Road to Character by David Brooks

The book is described as “focusing on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.”

2/1/2017 - 10:00-11:00am Saffo Rm - FSC
3/1/2017 - 10:00-11:00am Saffo Rm - FSC
4/1/2017 - 10:00-11:00am Saffo Rm - FSC
5/1/2017 - 10:00-11:00am Rm 1017 - DePaolo Hall
Please take a moment to read more about the book on Amazon
Watch Brooks’ interview with Oprah Winfrey on her TV show “Super Soul Sunday”
Enjoy his TED talk
If you are interested in participating (conversations will be held starting in late January), please do the following:
1)      Email Amy Hector your intent to participate so we can send calendar invites.  Last day to sign up will be January 30th.
2)      Pick up a copy of the book (now in paperback) at a retailer of your choice, public library, or UNCW library.
3)      Get reading!

2016-2017 Hawk Topics

Date: Tuesday, February 7
Time: 11:00am
Location: Staffo in Fisher (2009)

Nutrition can be confusing. New research is always coming out, and no two people’s diets are the same. But never fear! Campus Dietitian Chelsea Smart is here to help you navigate your plate. This seminar will focus on teaching appropriate portion sizes for meals while providing helpful tips regarding grocery shopping, eating out, and even packing your lunch!

RSVP by noon Monday, Feb 6th

Hawk Topic discussion with the Counseling Center. 
Date: October 25, 2016
Time: 11:00am
Location: Staffo in Fisher

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

Division colleagues are invited to join members of the Counseling Center staff to discuss the concept of “Mindset” during Emotional Health Week. Based on Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Mindset refers to a person’s perception of abilities. In addition, Mindset has been demonstrated to impact motivation and drive in college student success. Staff and Faculty members can play an important role in positively (or negatively) impacting a student’s mindset.  The discussion will include consideration of possible strategies and methods to support productive Mindset development. 

The links below provide brief background materials that colleagues may find useful as preparation for the discussion (or as general information about the Mindset concept):

Counseling Center Logo


Hawk Topics are one-hour discussions of issues of compelling interest to student-affairs professionals. Each discussion is informed by a short reading gleaned from academic journals or the popular press. Discussions are open to all.

Critical Thinking

What: "Incorporating Critical Thinking Skills into Your Work with Students"
Date: Monday, 4/11/16
Time: 11:00am-12:00pm
Place: DePaolo Hall Conference Room, #1017

The PDC and the UNCW "Critical Thinking" (CT) group are partnering to create a workshop: "Incorporating Critical Thinking Skills into Your Work with Students"


  • CT members will briefly present the goals of the CT group: The critical thinking team works to develop events and opportunities for learning about critical thinking on our campus. For example, "How can faculty and administrators facilitate critical thinking on our campus?"
  • Attendees of the workshop will have the opportunity to discuss how they may incorporate critical thinking into their
    • interactions with students in general
    • student presentations and evaluations of those presentations in particular
  • Attendees can bring a draft of their student presentation evaluations to discuss and possibly revise.

Further info about the CT group:

The PDC invites suggestions for future Hawk Topics and trainings. Send suggestions to Barbie Cowan at 910-962-2196 or by email.

2015 - 2016

Mental Health on Campus

11 a.m., Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016, location Saffo Room

Rates of anxiety and depression among American college students have soared in the last decade, and many more students than in the past come to campus already on medication for such illnesses. The number of students with suicidal thoughts has risen as well. Overwhelmed by demand for mental-health care, colleges face conflicts in choosing how to respond. Join the PDC as we discuss the trend and how it manifests at UNCW. Our discussion will be informed in part by the article "An Epidemic of Anguish" (Chronicle of Higher Education, 31 Aug. 2015).

Should College Be Treated as a Commodity?

11 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, Azalea Coast Room (FUU 2001)diploma

Pick up any newspaper, and you're likely to see a front-page article on college: It costs too much, spawns too much debt, is or isn't worth it. With college replacing high school as the required ticket for a career, college is now a favorite target of policy makers and pundits, and its value too often goes undefined.

Join the PDC for a conversation about whether return on financial investment, and the assumptions underlying that notion, is the most useful motivation for a college education. The short Washington Post editorial, "College Is Not a Commodity: Stop Treating It Like One" (9 June 2015) will springboard the discussion.

2014-2015 Hawk Topics

Managing Student Employment students at amphitheater

Striking a productive balance between experiential learning (on-the-job training) and strong job performance can be a challenge, especially when serving an off-campus constituency. This discussion raised questions and explored best practices for hiring and training students while balancing expectations and ensuring the primacy of the educational experience. Our background reading was "How to Make Students' Campus Jobs More Meaningful" (Chronicle of Higher Education, 15 Sep. 2014).

Resistance to Organizational Change

Silos, office politics, market realities, unclear metrics or objectives can all conspire to make lasting organizational change difficult or impossible. This discussion explored obstacles to lasting institutional change and how to overcome them; what prevents some organizations from realizing the innovation, reformation of outmoded practices or adaptations that keep organizations relevant and vital. The article, "Why Creating Organizational Change Is So Hard" ( provided the basis for discussion.

2013-2014 Hawk Topics

WTF: Connecting with First-Year Students

Mike Ruwe (University Learning Center) led a discussion of the challenges and rewards of working with First-Year students such as the story of the first "UNI 101" class in the United States; ideas about motivating students; "Guyland," sociologist Michael Kimmel's approach to assisting male students; and other ideas that Mike gleaned from the recent National Resource Center's First-Year Experience conference.

Student Affairs Case Law

Holly Taylor, formerly of the Office of the Dean of Students, addressed pertinent court cases from 2013 regarding freedom of expression, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fourth Amendment (search & seizure), Title IX, and other topics.