SRU initiative focuses on three themes to help students thrive


Students participating in an on campus event

Slippery Rock University students displayed their motivation and ability to connect with one another by painting spirit boards during Homecoming week last semester. Motivation, productive relationships and responding to ambiguity are three skills emphasized in a new SRU initiative this semester to promote student engagement and success.

Feb. 15, 2021

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — How do students thrive at Slippery Rock University? That's a question asked every day by staff in SRU's Student Affairs division as they help support students through a variety of programs, resources and services. There's no one answer but a new initiative is providing guidance in three areas - for not only the students, but the campus community that supports them.

"The pandemic is a tough time for everybody and our goal is to provide as much support as we can to help students succeed," said Lauren Moran, SRU director of student engagement and leadership. "As we were thinking of ways to help students thrive, there were really three things that kept jumping out to us as areas that students really need extra support."

Those areas, based on assessments, Student Support Care referrals and other forms of feedback, include:

  • Developing productive relationships: Helping students cultivate meaningful connections with other students that positively contribute to their well-being.
  • Getting motivated: Helping students find specific ways that help them move toward action.
  • Responding to ambiguity: Helping students learn to respond to unpredictable situations by adapting their plans and being comfortable in moving forward without all the information.

The three themes were adapted from among the 60 Student Leadership Competencies identified in research conducted by Corey Seemiller, author and professor of leadership studies in education and organizations at Wright State University.

Lauren Moran


"By choosing these specific competencies, it helps put a definition and a framework behind the areas of need," Moran said. "Anyone can develop these leadership skills; you don't have to be in a leadership position. They are basic skills that everyone needs to succeed and the three themes we selected are skills that our students particularly need this semester."

Students' focus on the skills of developing relationships, motivation and responding to ambiguity can be internalized on their own or by engaging the programs and services offered by SRU. To help guide students to these resources, the Student Affairs division developed a Thrive Resource Guide, a document available online that was recently distributed to departments, offices and student organizations across campus.

The guide matches the themes of the initiative to particular SRU resources, designated by a letter -- "R," "M" or "A" -- representing the skill it helps develop. As examples, Campus Recreation helps with motivation and relationships, Greek life with relationships, and Career Coaching with responding to ambiguity. Additionally, all of the programs and events listed on CORE, SRU's online platform for student organizations, are tagged and are searchable by theme.

SRU Student Affairs has tailored other communication around the three themes, including the weekly Student Involvement Newsletter and, to help people who work with students, the monthly Student Affairs Staff Newsletter.

"The goal is not just retention and getting students through to the end of the semester," said David Wilmes, chief student affairs officer. "We will assess the outcomes of this initiative and adjust if needed, as we might have a new set of themes next year. However, our long-term objective is to continue enhancing the way we support students and by doing so with a collective and collaborative approach that leads to successful student outcomes."

For more information about Student Affairs at SRU and its offices, visit the division's webpage, call 724.738.2155 or email

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |