[Fresh] Interview with Tom Mogan, Director of Student Development.

Kelly Eastland (kelly.eastland@villanova.edu)
Tue, 25 Sep 2001 16:18:31 -0400

Interview with Tom Mogan, Director of Student Development.

Fresh@News. Tom, Parents Weekend is just around the corner. Can you
tell us a little about the weekend?

Tom Mogan Parents' Weekend will take place on October 5-7, 2001.
Parents' Weekend is a time for family and friends to visit the campus
and learn about the Villanova Community. It's also a great time to
showcase our students' talents. From Athletic events, Theatre
productions to the Music Activities Showcase, Villanova students have a
wealth of talent. Of special interest this year is the appearance of
Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa on Saturday, October 6 at 8:00pm.
Walesa, the former president of Poland and former leader of the
Solidarity movement, will address the University community with a speech
entitled Democracy for a New Millennium.

Fresh@News. What events would you recommend to parents of new students?

TM. The weekend is designed so parents and family members can pick and
choose from a variety of receptions, lectures, and events. Parent's
University offers a number of special workshops where parents and family
members will meet campus administrators and learn about relevant issues
that face Villanova students. The topics include Global Education
(study-abroad programs), Facts and Reality of Alcohol, Career Services,
St.Frances of Assissi, and Estate Planning and the New Tax Law. Please
check out the website for more details on these programs.

Fresh@News. Is Parents Weekend just for the parents?
TM. Not at all!!! We invite all family members (aunts, uncles,
grandparents and siblings) to participate in the weekend.

Fresh@News. How do we register for the event?
TM. If you haven't received the brochure in the mail, you can download
it from the Parents Website or call our office at 610.519.4210.

Fresh@News. Let's talk a little about what's happening on campus.
Being the Director of Student Development, you supervise a number of
student organizations. One of the things we hear from our students is
there is not enough for them to do on weekends. Tell us more about that.

TM. I hear that too, which always amazes me because, as I sometimes
reply, "we have a whole calendar of things to do."

F@N. Before we talk about some of the activities, let's probe the
attitude. Why do they say that?

TM. There are a few factors here. One is that students are now much
more responsible for their own time than they were in high school, so if
they don't actively make some choices and decisions, they will be
sitting around alone. This in itself is a new experience for some of
our students, so in their social life, as well as in their academic
life, they have to take more responsibility for how they spend their
time. Also, they have many more hours of unstructured time to fill.
Instead of being in high school five days a week, they may have only 15
to 18 hours of class a week. Although the workload is usually much
higher than it was in High School, there certainly is a lot more
unstructured time. Sometimes it takes them awhile to learn how to fill
some of that time.

F@N. How do students find out what's happening on campus?

TM. Actually information overload can be a problem. We make a lot of
effort to get the word out to students about activities on campus.
Unfortunately, there are many campus organizations competing for our
students' attention through posters, ads, voice mails and e-mails, so
the students sometimes tune it out. The students have to learn to be
more pro-active, to review the options and to do some advance planning.

F@N. The thing I never understand is this; the students are surrounded
by people of their own age, so you would think that they would always
enjoy just being with each other.

TM. That can work both ways. Remember, they are with other young
people on a 24/7 basis anyway. They are already spending a lot of time
with their friends, so just getting together with other students isn't
something new. When the weekend rolls around they are looking for
something different.

F@N. What is there to do on the weekends?

TM. We offer many activities here on campus for our students, and lots
of our first year students have a great time. On any given weekend we
typically have a band, movies, and all of the things that students
usually enjoy. The entertainment is run by students for students, so
the activities are designed to appeal to this age group. Parents should
consult our website at www.villanova.edu/studentdevelopment to get a
sense of some of what is going on.

F@N I see advertisements for Late Night at Villanova. What is that

TM. In the past, many of our weekend activities would end at 10 PM and
the student center would close at about the same time. The problem is,
of course, that many students aren't ready to go to bed at 10 PM on a
Saturday night. So, last year we started a new set of on-campus
activities that are available from 10 PM to 2 PM on Friday and Saturday
evenings. We always have free food, and our "Cyber Lounge" is open for
pool and other games. At the same time we offer programming with
musicians and other activities. We also offer free midnight showings of
our movies. Generally we show movies that have just left the theater
but aren't out yet in video, such as "Shrek," "Pearl Harbor" and
"America's Sweathearts."

F@N. We hear a lot about off-campus parties. What is going on with

TM. It is true that older students will often have off-campus parties.
These parties might be associated with a fraternity or sorority, or
might be offered by other groups of upper division students. Some of our
first year students do go to these parties and they may have a good
experience. However, these parties are not supervised by the University
so sometimes problems do come up. When we can, we make efforts to work
with some of these students on proper risk-management, and we also spend
a lot of energy with our first year students educating them about making
safe choices, but our main effort, as I have said, is providing positive
alternatives here on campus.

F@N. What about the surrounding area? There is certainly a lot going
on. Do our students take advantage of the Philadelphia area?

TM. We used to give a Philadelphia tour for seniors, and we were always
surprised at how many of our students really didn't know the city,
especially given how well served we are by public transportation. Last
year we started a new program called "Best of Philly." Once a month we
offer a trip to Philadelphia, and we try to balance more serious
activities like going to a museum or a play with more traditional
entertainment like going to a sports event then going out for a "Philly
cheesesteak." We hope that when students see how much is going on and
how easy it is to get into Philadelphia, that they will start to take
advantage of these opportunities themselves.

F@N. What about student clubs and organizations? What do we offer?

TM. We have over 90 clubs and organizations. The Activities Forum was
held during the first week of classes and now the individual clubs are
recruiting more members. The activities are a great way for students to
meet other students outside their classes and residence hall, and also
to build leadership skills. One of the most popular organizations is
our Campus Activity Team (CAT) which arranges all of our on campus
entertainments. Our Special Olympics program is also very popular. We
usually have over 100 student volunteers helping at our major Special
Olympics event in the fall.

F@N Any other advice for parents?

TM. College is a great time for young people, but it does have
challenges. Although we talk a lot about the academic challenges, the
social challenges can be every bit as overwhelming. Sometimes students
just want to sit and wait for something to come to them, but they need
to learn to be a bit more proactive. Parents can encourage them to
explore the many activities that are available to them and to take
advantage of them.

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