Student Life Engagement - University of Houston
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DSA News
October 13, 2023

By Meli Iracheta-Guerra — 713-743-4745

The Student Life portfolio within the Division of Student Affairs organizes over 100 events and programs each year with the goal that students will find community, connections, and their place at the University of Houston (UH). Student Life was able to engage with over 30,000 students over the 2022-2023 academic year, and plan on increasing that number this upcoming fiscal year.


Photo Courtesy: Student Life

The Student Life Task Force to support Student Engagement has been actively working to enhance the student experience and student success through events, programs, and services. The Task Force conducts comprehensive assessments to collect program and event feedback, measure marketing effectiveness, and the impact Student Life events have on students each semester. They found that 96% of attendees felt more connected to campus and 83% of students met someone new as a result of attending or participating in a Student Life program. More notably, 91% of students who attended an educational or cultural/identity-based program said they gained a better understanding of cross-cultural knowledge and cultural competence. Also, 93% said they deepened their understanding of others, 90% said they learned something new, and 67% said they gained a new skill.

When asked what they liked most about the event(s) they attended, some students shared the following quotes:

“I liked the variety of entertainment programs there were. This being my 1st semester on campus, I found lots of events to attend!"

"I volunteered a lot and had a lot of fun helping people!"

“I met new people and made lots of new friends!"

“The opportunity to make friends with similar cultural identity”

“I felt like I was able to improve my well-being and inspire growth within myself”

The departments in Student Life review student feedback each semester and are always looking to improve their events and programs and/or create new opportunities for students to engage with students and the UH community. Some new programs and initiatives that were established over the year were: “2nd Chance Prom”, for students who were not able to have one in high school due to the Covid-19 pandemic, “CougarCon” to engage with students who don’t typically participate in Student Life programming, “Dia de los Muertos” and an “Ofrenda” to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and educate the community on this cultural celebration and its significance, and increase the frequency of Free Wednesday Lunches. Additionally, Stress-Free Finals, aimed at promoting holistic well-being, was expanded to include more campus partnerships and resources, including a new event, “Backyard Bash” and added a Smash Room to the “Kickoff” event, which had a record-breaking attendance of 972. Overall, Stress-Free Finals brought in 3,101 students, a 73% increase from the previous academic year.

The Task Force has also been working on improving overall marketing efforts and tactics. This included implementing new social media strategies, hiring social media influencers, creating a new newsletter, and providing internal marketing training. Since the upgraded marketing tactics were implemented, Get Involved Instagram saw an increase in followers over the 2023 academic year of 89% and an average increase of views by 126%. The Task Force also launched a new bi-monthly newsletter to highlight upcoming “can’t miss” events, titled Cougar Connections, distributed to all students who have attended Student Life-sponsored events over the semester. The open rate for Cougar Connections has ranged between 64% to 70% between issues. The Task Force is excited to conduct another assessment at the end of this Fall semester to further analyze Student Life’s impact on student success and the cougar experience.

Keith T. Kowalka, assistant vice president for student affairs – student life, said, “The Student Life Task Force to support Student Engagement has provided our team with data on what successes we are creating for students (learning, building community, creating connections), where we can make improvements in our programs and services, and what ideas for future events and programs our students would like to see in the future.”

More about Student Life

Student Life portfolio, within the Division of Student Affairs, is focused on helping students get involved on campus to better develop leadership skills, character, and discipline. We create global citizens who are ready to contribute to the world. Student Life also oversees the Get Involved brand and platform. Student Life consists of:

Seven (7) departments:
  • AD Bruce Religion Center
  • Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Center for Student Advocacy and Community
  • Center for Student Media
  • Center for Student Involvement
  • DSA IT Services
  • Student Centers
Seven (7) University Sponsored Organizations:
  • Activities Funding Board
  • Council of Cultural Activities
  • Frontier Fiesta Association
  • Homecoming Board
  • Metropolitan Volunteer Program
  • Student Government Association
  • Student Program Board
Three (3) Affiliated Organizations:
  • CoogRadio
  • CoogTV
  • The Cougar