Our Time With Your Student

Dear Wolverine Families, 

For an administrator in higher education like me, there is nothing quite like Parents & Family Weekend. While I had a wonderful time welcoming students (back) to campus a few short months ago, the fun of this special weekend (Nov. 5-7, 2021) was an entirely new experience. In many ways, I have been feeling like a second-year student myself, since I started this job in the middle of the pandemic and met most people through a computer screen for the better part of a year. This semester, I am experiencing many “firsts” at the University of Michigan (including a Haunted Tower Tour with Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering Dr. Alec D. Gallimore!). 

Perhaps that’s why I felt a special kind of warmth at these events, getting to see many parents, families, and loved ones alongside their students. Campus was “a happening place” thanks to the many different open houses and lab tours on North and Central Campuses, dueling piano concerts in Rackham Auditorium, and gameday activities all around the Big House—to name just a few events. The vibrancy and joy of that Wolverine togetherness really warmed me up. And warmth sure is needed, because the weather is getting colder each day. 

Now that we’re into November, we are looking at Thanksgiving Break and the expected holiday travel rush, and the end of the semester not too far beyond that. Some students are also reaching the point in the semester where they are feeling a bit burned out. Fortunately, we have well-being resources to help students build resilience and healthy habits and offer some respite—and many students are taking advantage. 

In fact, in the span of about one month, Student Life had more than 110,000 well-being-related interactions with students, ranging from fitness classes and appointments with CAPS and Wolverine Wellness to well-being-focused programs by Fraternity & Sorority Life, the Center for Campus Involvement, and the International Center. That’s enough unique interactions to fill the Big House. 

In October, we reopened the Wellness Zone on the 4th floor of the Michigan Union, which was created with input from students. The Zone now features a much bigger and renovated area, and it is open whenever the Union is, rather than being dependent on CAPS office hours. Students can also enjoy Wellness Zones in Pierpont Commons and Munger Graduate Residence. 

Zones are a great place for students to take a load off in between classes or to enjoy a study break with massage chairs, light therapy, meditation tools, yoga mats, and games. 

I’m also pleased to share that our Resource Navigators program launched again this fall. This initiative was extremely successful last year, so we expanded it. We are now offering all first and second year students a Resource Navigator session. If a student indicates interest, a SL staff member will reach out personally and directly to check in with the student and provide helpful resources tailored to the student’s unique interests and needs. 

Now that I have shared a snapshot of what it’s like on campus these days, it’s time to look ahead to the remainder of the current semester and the calendar year. In this edition of Family Matters, you’ll learn about what your student can expect for traveling over the holidays, including public health safety protocols and easy transportation to and from the airport. We’ll also walk you through the latest student mental health and well-being resources that have been recently added to our array of support services. 

If you have questions regarding this edition of Family Matters, as always, please reach out to Assist-Me@umich.edu to be routed to the best office to help you. 

Go Blue! 

Dr. Martino Harmon, Vice President for Student Life