In October, Kim Phipps opened her office door to students and faculty who had concerns and ideas to share. The second Open Door Day of the year will be held tomorrow for connection between Phipps and the student body.
Desiring to be “the students’ president,” Phipps began her Open Door Day tradition the fall after starting her role as president. As a previous communications professor, Phipps cherishes her time to make connections and collaborations.
“You just have to know the community you’re leading. You have to invest time in talking to students,” Phipps said. “I may not meet them in any other way, except if they come to an Open Door Day.”
Open Door Day works by one or more students, staff or faculty signing up for 15-minute intervals to speak with Phipps. Students may come to simply say ‘hi’ and look around her office or to request additional funding for their club. Phipps sees around 15 to 20 people in an average Open Door Day.
She always keeps confidentiality and often takes notes to remember conversations, names and concerns so she can later consider the discussion and take action if needed.
Phipps shared a time when a group of art students came to her with concerns about the minimal space they had to work in. As a result of the conversation, Phipps worked with others to meet some of their needs for space.
Phipps has no agenda coming into Open Door Day which allows her to dive into whatever topics are brought to her. She loves the diversity of conversations she takes part in and especially appreciates the opportunity to share her own experiences in answering a question.
“I love questions that make me think more deeply about something or find new information,” Phipps said. “These conversations have really deepened my understanding of the need to have the kind of campus climate where we can really have thoughtful conversation respectfully,” Phipps said.
Phipps also appreciates respectful discussion amongst those with different opinions. “I have been really moved by students who come to see me regardless of their political persuasion,” Phipps said. “They’ve wanted to talk about how we could do a better job on campus at having civil dialogue and conversation and I have really appreciated those conversations.”
On Open Door Day this year, she had students come in to talk about concerns regarding counseling and finances in the Engle Center, commuters not being able to swipe into resident halls and the methods of welcoming transfer students.
“I offer Open Door Day as an opportunity for students and staff or faculty to come by and share concerns, ask any questions or just, in some cases, share their thoughts. I genuinely welcome that, so I hope they take advantage of it.”