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Emergency Alert

Phone outage

Campus is open today, Aug. 12, however, the main switchboard remains out of service. 

To reach Augustana, call 309-794-7711. 

 

Calling Club

A word graphic from the Calling Club's notes on their conversations with students.

When students went home, Augustana's Calling Club went to work

‘Are you doing OK?’ — the first of 20,000 phone calls

Soon after leaving campus in late March as a precaution against COVID-19, Augustana students started receiving calls and emails of support from college employees they hadn’t met.

“I didn’t think it was possible to fall deeper in love with Augie because it already owns so much of my heart, but the calls just showed how truly and deeply Augie and the staff care about the students,” said Michael Tarchala ’22, a theatre arts and graphic design major.

From their homes, 14 members of Augustana’s “Calling Club” made nearly 20,000 calls and sent more than 9,000 emails to students, as well as WhatsApp exchanges with international students who were able to go home.

Why? For starters, to see if each student was doing OK.

What I told the students is that Augie is a family, and we really do want to be there for them in all situations.

Kris Ruggles, dining services

“Listening to their questions, their fears and concerns helped me to find a purpose and direct my energy into something positive and meaningful, while easing my own anxiety about the situation,” said Bettinna Bolger, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion executive assistant.

Human Resources enlisted Wendy Kelley ’92, associate director of admissions, and Denise Yoder ’89, head athletic trainer, to organize the Calling Club. The college wanted to let students know that although they were no longer on campus, they were not forgotten.

Callers encouraged and counseled students who needed to express their frustration and tell their story to someone who shares the special Augustana connection.

“What I told the students is that Augie is a family, and we really do want to be there for them in all situations,” said Kris Ruggles, dining services cashier.

Callers heard varied questions: How do I return a library book? When will I get my cap and gown for graduation? How do I get a non-Augie summer class approved? Can I still use CORE after graduation? What about housing in the fall?

To enable the callers to be as effective as possible, they were given access to Starfish, a campus-wide communication resource. This allowed callers to make notes and immediately alert others on campus if a student had a technology issue or needed some other type of assistance, including academic and mental health support.

The callers made four rounds of calls to each student, offering information related to that week of spring semester—fall class registration, housing sign-ups, commencement details, pass/no credit options and more. Email follow-ups were common, and the callers often were busy with email exchanges as well as their calling outreach.

“The dedication the employees showed the students made this special,” Kelley said. “The callers were able to address the students’ issues or connect them with the right Augustana staff. Their compassion for our students was very clear.”

Calling Club members:
Bettinna Bolger – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Beth Ducey – Advising/Math and Computer Science
Deborah Finkle – Facilities Services
Kris Gende – Dining Services
Lisa Hoffman –Dining Services
Heather Hufford – Advancement
Becca Kitterman – Athletics
Becky Lapp – Bookstore
Christy Parker – Business Administration
Kris Ruggles – Dining Services
Vicky Ruklic – Tredway Library
Julie Schneider – Art and Graphic Design
Emma Stader – Music
Kathi Thompson – Facilities Services

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