Research supports the importance of co-curricular activities for traditionally aged college students; however, a growing percentage of students who are completing their undergraduate degrees do not fall into the 18-22 year old age-range. They are “nontraditional” students, a term used to describe those who are in college over the age of 25. Often they are working adults, many who are raising families and engaged in career and community pursuits. This looks at one university that received a call to action from their nontraditional students, who actively advocated to be part of a campus community, for many of the same reasons that traditional students articulate as valuable. It follows the dialogue between these students and the faculty administrators who sought to meet those needs as the gap between what students felt that they wanted and what they actually used was revealed, with social media a major tool utilized to bridge that gap. The approach to understanding these needs is grounded in participatory inquiry that uses an interpretive approach to reveal new understandings through conversation. Through this process, students and faculty administrators examine their past and imagine new possible ways of being in community both through on-ground and virtual worlds. The results show an increased sense of community, which builds a cohesive organizational culture and a broader common understanding of mission and purpose. This study has implications both for institutions working with nontraditional students and for other organizations that seek to build community when faced with geographical, temporal, or schedule challenges.
|Keywords:||Culture in Organizations, Technology and Work, Organizational Change|
Program Director, Human Services Program, School of Business and Management, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA, USA