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NU Knights Lead: Creating Empowered, Engaged Student Leaders

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Jessica Fischer

Digital Marketing Specialist

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Solutions Used

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Description

When you’re thinking of what a great student leader is, there are a lot of traits that can come to mind.

Perhaps it’s their character or their commitment to serving their community. Or possibly, their involvement on campus. 

These characteristics helped fuel the Knights Lead initiative at Neumann University. Aligned with its core values of service and leadership, NU is creating strong, engaged student leaders who graduate ready to enter the workforce.

Learn how NU answered this question themselves, using their RISES values to build up student leaders and how they’re using Suitable to fuel their co-curricular experience while promoting leadership, service, and career readiness throughout the student journey.

About the School

Founded in 1965, Neumann  University is a private, Franciscan Catholic school located in Aston, Pennsylvania.


NU has approximately 2,500 students enrolled. Neumann offers 43 undergraduate majors and a 14:1 student to faculty ratio. Their school mascot is the Knights and they have been honored by multiple sites and sources for their academic excellence.

 

Challenges before Suitable

The Knights Lead initiative was designed to outline flexible stepping stones for Neumann University’s students to navigate through self-discovery and the beauty that is present in all creation.

The Leadership Journey yields well-prepared citizens who are engaged in their communities and “promote thoughtful and ethical leadership in service and response to a global and technologically complex world”. (NU Vision Statement)

The previous tracking system wasn’t user-friendly, so students and administration alike didn’t want to use it. Thus, engagement rates were low. The NU Leadership Formation Committee and Student Affairs set out to find a more effective tracking system that fueled NU Leadership’s vision to become a national leader:

  • Specifically in healthcare, education, social services, & business
  • Living out Neumann’s Catholic and Franciscan Values
  • Curricular and co-curricular initiatives that engage all students
  • Identify and attract prospective students who have leadership competency
  • Advance a culture of servant leadership across the University by promoting lifelong learning and service to others

Directors and VPs of departments led the evaluation process and created the requirements list. 

The team needed a platform that had the ability to be customized to Neumann, so they could create their own competencies and objectives. Most importantly, it needed to be easy to use and flexible, unlike the old system. Lastly, the team wanted to ensure the new solution could address the needs of multiple units/departments in one place.

The new and improved Knights Lead was launched and designed on Suitable. Not only was Suitable able to deliver on the list of requirements above, but the team chose Suitable due to its:

  • Mobile-first accessibility
  • Better event tracking with QR codes
  • Ability to support contract tracing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Unique gamification features
  • Ability to track and offer incentives for students who engage; bookstore credit, snack café rewards, NU apparel, preferred seating at NU sporting events, preferential parking, bragging rights

Life with Suitable

The Knights Lead Leadership Journey is rooted in Neumann University RISES Core Values, Core Curriculum, and the characteristics of Franciscan Education.

Knights Lead was established with 4 core competencies:

  • Relationship with Self
  • Relationship with Community
  • Relationship with Others
  • Relationship with Creator

Launch occurred during Move-In Week then again during Welcome Week. The team decided to make Suitable the required app for attendance tracking and event check-in.By using a proactive communications strategy with students that included social media and email reminders, the initiative is gaining momentum rapidly. More departments are jumping on board, utilizing the platform for workshops, events and in-person programming.

Now, Suitable is being used for engagement initiatives all over campus. Through the platform, Knights Lead allows students to see their progress, points and completions in one place, right from their phones.

Neumann is using Suitable for all types of events and initiatives, including Chapel, student wellness and service.

Since service is such a major part of the student experience at Neumann, students can find opportunities or self-report service involvement on the app through Knights Lead. Engagement is also increasing within student organizations (student orgs are required to do a minimum amount of service hours). 

ASK THE ADMINISTRATOR

“Students are obsessed with engaging on the app and tracking the Leaderboard. They really like the points system. They’re getting more involved, and growing in the core values that Neumann University stands for.”

Tahirah Stevens-Gaillard, M.S. Ed
Coordinator for Student Leadership & Inclusion at Neumann University

Take a look at the accomplishments of the Knight Lead initiative at Neumann University

  • Each club on campus has a Suitable ambassador, which empowers students to develop leadership and problem-solving skills.
  • Over 2,700 activities completed in the past 12 months.
  • 79% of Neumann students actively using Knights Lead to track service, develop leadership skills and prepare for their futures.
  • More events and opportunities centered around Neumann’s core values.
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Additional Outcomes Achieved


79% of undergraduate students at NU are using the Suitable app to get more involved, track service hours and create a co-curricular transcript that they can carry with them beyond their time at Neumann. Suitable is helping the NU team support the school’s strategic plan and helping the administration build up the next generation of strong, skilled leaders.

 

Plans for the Future

Moving forward, the team at Neumann University is working on a Career Readiness program that has required internship elements, to further the strategic goal of career-readiness.They’re tracking what students are attending and how they’re preparing for the future.

Based in their Community competency, the team is looking to start tracking engagement within Environmental Awareness and the Arts.

Long term, Tahirah and her team want to use Suitable to:

  • Increase the frequency and impact of incentives
  • Track and analyze consistent engagement
  • Compare engagement metrics(resident vs. commuter, across graduation years, majors, Fall semester vs. Spring semester, etc.)
  • Bridge the gap between the curricular and co-curricular agenda of Neumann University
  • Expand engagement with student athletes