The Student Support Hub opened in the fall of 2019 in the Physical Activity Complex (PAC) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), giving kinesiology and Huskie student-athletes access to immediate support. Whether they are looking for academic advice, tutoring, mental health support, or sport-life balance, there are qualified professionals on-site dedicated to supporting them.
“As we considered the increasing need for a holistic approach to student and student-athlete support, the vision was to create a one-stop centre that provides students the supports they need in an accessible way,” said Dr. Chad London (PhD), dean of the College of Kinesiology and vice-chair of the Huskie Athletics Board of Trustees. “We renovated an under-utilized space in the PAC to construct the hub, and the team of staff supporting students are now housed there as the go-to place for assistance.”
“It is very important to us that our students are supported in every way,” said Keeran Wagner, manager of undergraduate student academic services in the College of Kinesiology. “By providing all of these supports in one central location, we allow students to have a supportive, personal experience.”
The college has experienced a 10.2 per cent growth in enrolment in the last year. As part of its 2025 Strategic Plan, that growth rate will continue year-to-year, opening an extra 50 seats annually. By 2025, the college expects its undergraduate program to be educating more than 800 students.
“It is important that our students know they are valued and supported by the college,” said Wagner. “We want them to have a safe space to go to, regardless if it’s for personal, mental health, wellness, or academic support.”
With three full-time staff currently overseeing the student support hub, they are a one-stop shop for students. As the college continues to grow, so will the student support team. With plans to hire another part-time academic advisor in spring 2020, it will allow for more support to help students reach their full potential in the classroom and beyond.
One unique part of the hub is access to mental health and wellness services.
“Student success depends on having the right balance of supports available,” explained Chandra LePoudre, student support co-ordinator for the College of Kinesiology and Huskie Athletics. “The hub provides a safe, confidential space where students can drop in and access resources on various campus activities, events, and initiatives, in addition to getting academic advice and mental health support. There is a level of anonymity in coming to the space that is removed from both the Dean’s Office and the faculty offices.”
A priority in the college’s 2025 Strategic Plan is to enhance the undergraduate and graduate student experience by providing support services that enhance mental health, well-being and academic success. The hub is accessible for all kinesiology students in both undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as all Huskie student-athletes.
“Student-athletes have many additional and unique pressures to juggle, which can make their university experience much more stressful and challenging,” said LePoudre. “In addition to the demands of their academic program, they are keeping up intensive training schedules, travelling regularly for competition, managing expectations from coaches, teammates, and themselves in relation to their sport performance and coping with the emotional ups and downs that come with the winning and losing in sports, both as individuals and as a team.”
At the end of the day, the goal is to ensure students receive as much support as possible to aid in their academic success.