Winter 2011: Robert Morris University Winter 2011 | Robert Morris University



Here at Robert Morris University, we believe that learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It’s something that happens every day and is an integral part of the RMU experience. That’s why we developed the Student Engagement Transcript (S.E.T.).

The S.E.T. serves as a companion to our students’ academic transcript. It is an official university endorsement and representation of their experiential learning—their leadership roles, community service, international study trips, internship experiences, and much more. Upon graduation, students can request to share their S.E.T. with employers and graduate schools to demonstrate they applied their education in the real world. I am proud to say that RMU was one of the first universities in the nation to offer this valuable tool to its students.

In this issue of Family Connections, we’ll be highlighting the Student Engagement Transcript along with the Renaissance Award, which is given to students who complete activities in all seven S.E.T. categories. We’ll also focus on the contributions from the Office of Student Civic Engagement, the Career Center, the Center for Student Success, and the Center for Global Engagement.

The Student Engagement Transcript is just another way that Robert Morris University is striving to change the lives of its students so that they can go forth and change the lives of others. We hope your student takes full ladvantage of this opportunity.

- Gregory G. Dell'Omo, Ph.D.
President, Robert Morris University

In the last issue we informed you that all incoming freshmen and transfer students will have to satisfy at least two of the first six categories of the Student Engagement Transcript (S.E.T.) in order to graduate. The following are descriptions of those categories.

ARTS, CULTURE, AND CREATIVITY | This category includes experiences in which students explore the human potential for creativity in the arts, music, dance, drama, or creative writing.

TRANSCULTURAL/GLOBAL EXPERIENCES | The goal of this category is to encourage and assist students to interact with a wide variety of people from culturally diverse backgrounds. By understanding and appreciating other cultures, students can be better prepared for the culturally diverse workforce, of which they will be a part after graduation.

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH | This category encourages students to strive for academic excellence by conducting undergraduate research that transcends the traditional classroom assignment.

SERVICE | The goal of this category is to foster active civic engagement on the part of students, because the university views engaging in volunteer community service as essential to developing well rounded citizen-leaders.

LEADERSHIP | The goal of this category is to encourage students to take action and influence others to make a positive difference for the university and the community at large. A student leader is one that holds the position of head, or related complimentary positions such as cabinet member, officer or official, of an RMU-recognized group, organization, or activity.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE | The goal of this category is to highlight the professional experiences that students take part in during their academic career. These experiences may be distinctly academic and involve academic credit, or they may be co-curricular in nature and not relate directly to academic credit.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION, SPECIAL PROJECTS AND PARTICIPATION | This category is not a requirement, but a way to formally acknowledge students who have exceeded expectations in and/or outside of the classroom, have participated in special projects at RMU, and/or memberships of student clubs and organizations.

For more, visit

Each year RMU compiles information about student engagement activities across the campus. Here is a snapshot of student involvement from this past academic year as well as some comparative data from previous semesters.


The Career Center is committed to assisting students and alumni in the successful realization of challenging, meaningful, and rewarding careers. Part of that mission is to educate students about what employers seek in candidates. Most employers place high value on candidates with experience in their field. According to the Job Outlook 2011, published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 72.4% of employers prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience. Only 5.3% said experience isn’t typically a decision-making factor when hiring a new college graduate.

The Professional Experience category on the Student Engagement Transcript (S.E.T.) recognizes students’ participation in internships, cooperative education programs, practicums, clinical experiences, student teaching, PREP work-study positions, shadowing, and special projects in the student’s major or field. The Career Center assists students in searching for professional experiences by discussing career goals, reviewing resumes and cover letters, outlining search strategies and practicing interview techniques. In addition, the Career Center posts internships and work-study positions and assists in the coordination of the Academic Internship Program and the Student Employment Program.

Internships are a common activity among RMU students and are viewed very favorably by employers. An internship is usually a one-time work or service experience completed by a student who has a least some academic preparation in their professional field. The student works under the supervision of at least one practicing professional. Internships can be paid or unpaid and completed for academic credit or not-for-credit. Internships are listed in ColonialTRAK, the Career Center’s online job posting and registration database. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Career Center posted 739 internships.

Through the Academic Internship Program, students may apply to earn academic credit for work experience gained through approved internships that are supervised by a faculty member. The Career Center coordinates the Academic Internship Program by assisting students through the application and internship search process. Last year, 227 students completed academic internships. Internships completed for academic credit are automatically included on a student’s S.E.T. Some students opt to complete internships independently and not for academic credit. Students who complete not-for-credit internships may fill out an application for S.E.T. Professional Experience. After review by the Career Center, the experience may qualify for inclusion on the student’s S.E.T.

The Career Center also coordinates the Student Employment Program which includes on-campus and off-campus work-study opportunities. Positions are posted in the Student Employment Program Online Job Source which is linked to the Career Center’s homepage. On average, about 500 students work on campus each year in a wide variety of offices and departments. In fall of 2009, the Professional Employment Program (PREP) was created to provide work-study positions that are research-based or are a higher-level practical experience for undergraduate students. During the 2010-11 academic year, 22 students participated in 20 different departments as part of PREP. Upon successful completion, PREP work-study positions are automatically included on a student’s S.E.T.

Career Center staff members encourage students to gain relevant experience in their field to increase their competitiveness in the job market. As noted above, many of these professional experiences are eligible to appear on a student’s S.E.T. A strong academic transcript and well-rounded Student Engagement Transcript combine to create an effective marketing tool in today’s job market.

As part of RMU’s ongoing efforts to review its programs and services, the Office of Student Life provided the parents of current undergraduate students the opportunity to complete the Noel Levitz online Parent Satisfaction Inventory this past spring. This survey was utilized as a counterpart to the Student Satisfaction Inventory that was also completed during the spring. We want to take this opportunity to provide you with a brief summary of the survey results. A letter explaining the survey was mailed to parents of current undergraduates last semester and 312 families, or 9% of the survey recipients completed the online inventory.

Parents of current students last semester indicated that particular strengths of Robert Morris as being a safe campus and that our Public Safety department’s response to emergencies is quick. Parents also indicated that they have confidence in child’s academic success and support RMU’s commitment to academic excellence. Items that were identified as areas for improvement were concern about preparedness for child’s chosen field upon graduation and the quality of classroom instruction/major field instruction is excellent.

RMU hopes to identify ways to boost survey responses for future efforts and to identify areas of low satisfaction as indicated by both parents and students. More information on RMU’s Outcomes Assessments efforts can be found at .

The Office of Student Civic Engagement (OSCE) here at RMU is in the “business” of building servant leaders. By offering hundreds of volunteer projects throughout the academic year, along with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) certificate program, the OSCE helps students develop leadership skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. RMU students grow and are transformed as they volunteer to serve those in need. Additionally, students are stretched and their world views are broadened through the NLA certificate program, which prepares them for careers in the nonprofit sector.

First-year students are required to do a minimum of three hours of community service in conjunction with the First-Year Seminar Program, held during the first eight weeks of the fall term. Students who have a passion for service can have their volunteer work acknowledged on the S.E.T. Students who are passionate about helping others can log hundreds of hours of service while attending RMU. This gives students a great sense of accomplishment and is also impressive to potential employers.

There is a vast array of volunteer opportunities from which students may choose, such as mentoring at-risk children in afterschool programs, serving meals at soup kitchens, donating blood, sorting and packing international relief supplies, visiting with nursing home residents, supervising Boy & Girl Scouts activity nights; collecting food, clothes and books for those in need…the list of opportunities is endless!

Students can also sign up for one of two Alternative Spring Break trips: one group will travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about and address hunger and homelessness in our nation’s capital; a second group will travel to the Appalachian Mountains of southern West Virginia to learn about and address rural poverty, sub-standard housing and environmental issues.

Help your student get S.E.T. for life by encouraging them to visit the Office of Student Civic Engagement today!



The Center for Student Success offers two very strong leadership opportunities for students to include on their Student Engagement Transcript (S.E.T.).

First-Year Seminar Mentors are students who are selected based on their academic achievements, their involvement at RMU, their enthusiasm for helping others, and their energetic personality. These achievements and personality traits come together to help incoming first-year students adjust to the demands of high education. The tremendous life change that comes with starting college can be daunting enough, but when added to it that a student has to learn a new culture, it can be overwhelming. Learning a new culture can be difficult because one must learn the rules and regulations that accompany that culture, the language used among members of the culture, and the layout of the community that culture operates within. First-Year Seminar Mentors are there to ease the transition into the new “RMU Culture” and help make the students assimilation into the culture as easy as possible. Often students do not want to approach faculty or staff members with their questions, so they seek out the wisdom of another student. This is why the mentors are so valuable. They help the students to learn the layout of the campus, understand the language used (i.e., syllabus, FAFSA, matriculation, etc.), teach the rules and regulations of the culture, and help first-year students make friends.

Peer tutoring is another leadership opportunity offered through our department. Peer tutors are hired based on their academic achievement, interpersonal skills and communication skills. Tutors are required to have an overall 3.0 GPA and have earned a “B” on higher in the courses in which they tutor. Prior to beginning the position as a tutor, all students are required to attending an intensive training session. The training techniques used are approved through the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) and the Tutoring Program at RMU is certified at Levels, I, II, and II through the CRLA. Training for the tutors does not end at that point because they regularly receive training throughout their employment in the program. The Tutoring Center is a walk-in service and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends by appointment.

For undergraduate students enrolled prior to the Fall 2009 semester, participation in the S.E.T. program is voluntary. A group of such students graduated last May as the inaugural recipients of RMU’s Renaissance Award. These students fulfilled all seven categories of the S.E.T. They were acknowledged at the annual Student Excellence Dinner last April and received a certificate, and of course, this will be recorded on their S.E.T. Earlier this semester, they were invited to attend a dinner in their honor at the home of President Dell’Omo, and each received a special lapel pin.

The Inaugural Renaissance Award recipients were Kelsey Dennis (nursing), Matthew Feryus (actuarial science), Channing Frampton (media arts), Heather Lowery (communication), Sara Meier (marketing), Amanda Musser (management), Tabitha Savka (communication), and Sheila Strong (finance).

RMU is purchasing the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh Airport to accommodate its substantial growth in undergraduate enrollment, residential enrollment, and student retention – all at historic levels in 2011-12.

The hotel, located on University Boulevard less than 1 mile from RMU’s Moon Township campus, currently houses approximately 144 students on floors separated from hotel guests. The university began housing students at the hotel last fall because of rising demand for campus housing. As many as 212 students have lived there at one time.

Including the students at the Holiday Inn, 1,679 RMU students are living in campus housing this fall, an 86-percent increase since 2000. In August, the university opened its 13th residence hall, Peter Salem Hall, which houses 190 students.

RMU plans to continue to operate the Holiday Inn as a hotel through at least 2012, dedicating some floors to student housing during that time. Robert Morris has engaged Pittsburgh-based Prospera Hospitality to assist with the hotel management and to ensure a smooth transition of the ownership of the hotel, which is not expected to undergo major changes in the short term.

“We have increasingly become a university of choice for students who seek an engaged and holistic collegiate experience, which includes a 24- hour living and learning environment,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo. “This facility will allow us to manage our growth strategically and continue to provide our students with highquality residential and recreational spaces.”

Approximately half of all full-time undergraduate students now live on campus, versus 37 percent in 2000. Total undergraduate enrollment, including part-time students, is 3,910.

The hotel ultimately will provide Robert Morris with the space to house 500 students. That figure represents the shortfall in campus housing RMU would face by 2017 if the university were to take no action. The building will allow RMU to guarantee housing to a majority of undergraduate students.

“This growth of residential enrollment is an important component of RMU’s strategic plan, which calls on the university to boost student retention and graduation rates. National research and our own experience demonstrate a strong relationship between living on campus and improved academic performance,” said John Michalenko, vice president for student life at RMU.

The Holiday Inn will give RMU an additional fitness center – the other is located in Jefferson Center on campus -- as well as a swimming pool, which RMU does not have on campus but which has been popular with students living at the hotel. All told, the property includes 17 acres, where the university plans to create additional recreational spaces.

The hotel will provide opportunities for student employment, and offer students in RMU’s hospitality and tourism management program the chance to gain real-world experience.

The hotel includes 12,000 square feet of conference space, more than twice what the university offers in Sewall Center, which hosts 110 outside events throughout the year. The conference facilities at the hotel would allow RMU to free up space for campus events in Sewall, which includes the arena that is home court to the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the volleyball team.

The academic year is off and running in Residence Life and a number programs have already been initiated in our living-and-learning communities with a goal of encouraging positive relationships among our residents. As you know, positive relationship development will be an essential factor in overall student success at RMU.

Relationship building is a top priority for our para-professional Resident Assistant (RA) staff members. Each RA is responsible to develop and maintain an atmosphere in the residence halls that fosters respect for individual rights and promotes community development. We know that positive relationships promote and maintain an environment conducive to healthy living and learning. The RA’s have made it a priority to invite their first-year residents to lunch or dinner in an effort to develop personal relationships and serve as an on-going resource to each student in our halls.

Encourage your student to get involved and attend some of the programs that are planned by the RA staff members in our halls. These programs are educational, developmental, social, and provide great opportunities to meet other students and build positive peer relationships. The Residence Hall Association (RHA) is one great way for students to get involved in campus life and meet new students. RHA’s mission is to promote the mission and values of RMU, and the programs and activities that they sponsor throughout the year are worthy of your student’s consideration. In addition, there will be many more programs on campus that will enable your son or daughter to meet and develop positive relationships with members of the university community.

We want our residents to have a rewarding living and learning experience for optimum student success. Please keep in touch and remember to encourage your student to get involved in all of the opportunities we provide to build healthy and productive relationships.


Homecoming Football Game Sets Attendance Record
RMU held its annual Homecoming celebration on Saturday, October 8, and the thousands in attendance couldn’t have ordered a better day. With clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 70s, it was the perfect setting for an outdoor event—and what an event it was. More than 4,200 cheering fans filled the stands for the first night game at the stadium, a record crowd. More than 1,200 students – one out of every three residential students – watched at Joe Walton Stadium, also setting an attendance record.

Rap Artist Wale Brings Ambition Tour to Campus
The Office of Student Life hosted Maybach Music Group recording artist Wale for a stop on his national “Ambition Tour” on Thursday, October 27. Over 1,300 students and off-campus concertgoers attended the highly anticipated show in the Sewall Center Arena. Before Wale’s music career blossomed, he attended RMU as an undergrad and was a member of the Colonials football team.


9 Focus on your Future, 4–6 p.m., Sewall Center
9-12 Colonial Theater presents “Servant of Two Masters”, 8 p.m., Massey Theater”
Colonial Theater presents “Servant of Two Masters”, 2 p.m., Massey Theater
14-18 International Week (various events scheduled)
15 10 Steps to a Federal Job, 6–7 p.m., Sewall Center
16 Etiquette Dinner, 4:30–6 p.m., Sewall Center (reservations required)
21 Pittsburgh Speakers Series presents Ambassador Joe Wilson and former CIA Operative wife Valerie Plame Wilson, 8 p.m., Heinz Hall
23 Thanksgiving Holiday. University offices close at 3 p.m.
24-25 Thanksgiving Holiday. University offices closed.


3 Mall @ Robinson Shuttle, bus departs campus at 5 p.m.
8 Cram Jam, 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Nicholson Center Food Court
9 RMU’s Got Talent, 8 p.m., Nicholson Center Food Court
10 Winterfest (Various events scheduled)
12-16 Final Exams/Quiet Study
13 Almost Midnight Breakfast, 10 p.m.–Midnight, Nicholson Center Food Court
23-31 University offices closed until Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012

Schedule subject to change