Winter 2012: Robert Morris University Winter 2012 | Robert Morris University



Family Connections is a publication designed for the parents and families of Robert Morris University students. It is compiled by the Office of Student Life and printed in cooperation with the Office of Public Relations and Marketing.

Editions are printed in the fall, winter, and spring of each academic year. We are interested in your feedback about this publication. E-mail your comments and suggestions to


Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines "mentor" as a “trusted counselor or guide.” So what does it mean to be a mentor to your child during his/her college years? This is a new chapter in the lives of both you and your student. Your relationship is evolving, and you both need to redefine it. Here are suggestions on ways to approach this stage of your relationship with your student:

  • Counsel him/her to utilize campus resources and to not be afraid to ask for help.
  • Take an interest in his/her academic coursework; ask to be included on what is being discussed in class and provide positive feedback.
  • Foster trust with your student, as it will help him/her to build their self-confidence.
  • Draw on your own experiences to share with your student when he/she is faced with new decisions and challenges. Sharing your experiences, both positive and negative, can be provide a new perspective.

• Tell your student it can be good to take some risks; trying something new can be a difficult hurdle for some students to overcome.

Helping your student achieve personal, academic, and professional goals are our priority at RMU. Our faculty, staff and student mentors will work closely with him/her to help them make the most of their RMU experience. Nothing, however, can replace the influence and support of parents and families.


Internships and student workers are an important part of the Department of Campus Recreation. Without students who are willing to take on leadership roles and professional development opportunities, the programs and activities offered would cease to exist. One such opportunity falls within our PREP (Professional Education Program) where one student each semester serves as a Campus Recreation Assistant.

This student serves a role as paid employee and learns valuable skills within athletic administration that will help the student develop professional competencies, strengthen their resume, and provide them with opportunities to build relationships with RMU staff members and other student leaders.

Class of 2012 graduate Corey Beynon served in this role for the past two years and currently works for EDMC as an admissions representative. Corey speaks highly of his experience within the PREP program calling it, “some of the best times of my college experience…I learned a great deal and had a great time planning events and meeting new people.”

For more information on student employment and PREP positions, please visit the RMU Career Center homepage at


The Center for Student Success oversees two programs where students become mentors to first-year students: the First-Year Seminar Program and the Early Success Program. Each allows for first-year students to make a connection with an upper-class student, while giving them the freedom to ask questions when they may not know how to find the answers. Each mentor goes through a rigorous training process that helps them understand and assist with transitional issues that first-year students experience. Many of the mentors also experienced transitional issues – homesickness, stress, loneliness – so they are able to offer suggestions to students based on their personal experiences.

In addition to student mentors, parents can also become mentors to their child, even from hours away, both socially and academically. Socially parents can help by learning about RMU; this issue of Family Connections is a great place to start. Read the mailings that the university sends out about upcoming events. Surf and find out what clubs and organizations are available for students. Encourage your child to become involved at RMU. Encourage them to spend weekends here. This is crucial to the adjustment to your child’s new home away from home. Going home each weekend may seem like the cure for homesickness, but it's not. Becoming adjusted and comfortable in the RMU environment is the best cure for homesickness.

Academically, you can become a mentor by asking about your child’s class work. Students love to answer the question, “How are classes?” with “Great”, even though sometimes they may not be. Ask open ended questions, and then ask questions from the answers your child gives. If your child indicates that he or she is having difficulty in a class, encourage him/her to talk to the instructor. Do not offer to call the instructor yourself—learning independence and how to take ownership of his/her education are two of the most important lessons your child can learn during college. Encourage your child to attend tutoring. The peer tutors at RMU, just like the mentors, go through an intensive training session prior to and after becoming tutors. Encourage your student to meet with their counselors – their Center for Student Success Counselor, Career Counselor, and Financial Aid Counselor – and especially with their Academic Advisor. These people comprise the support circle that is set up for your child.

At RMU, our goal is to help each student succeed, but we can only do that if they allow us to help them!


Thursday, January 31, 4:40 – 6:10 p.m.
Sewall Center
Wednesday, April 3, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Sewall Center
Wednesday, February 20, 5 – 7 p.m.
Sewall Center
Thursday, April 4, 4 – 6 p.m.
Sewall Center
Wednesday, February 27, 3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Sewall Center
Tuesday, April 9, Noon – 4 p.m.
Sewall Center Arena
Wednesday, March 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monroeville Convention Center


The Multicultural Peer Mentor Program was created to provide first-year minority students with the tools they need to succeed at Robert Morris University. The program provides each student a mentor who will act as an extension of the Multicultural Student Services office.

Mentors take a genuine interest in the success and acclamation of the mentee to the RMU community. The students lead workshops, community services projects, and off-campus trips to help first-year students make connections with the university. Currently, ten mentors work for the program. These mentors have an average GPA of 3.1 and are actively involved in campus life. The mentors were selected based on their academic achievement, leadership experience, and their ability to serve as positive role models.

Currently 45 first-year students are enrolled in the program. These first-year students are from a broad range of different backgrounds, cultures, and geographic locations. Any first-year student still interested in becoming involved in the Multicultural Peer Mentor program can contact the Office of Multicultural Student Services at 412-397-3811.


The Office of Student Civic Engagement (OSCE) provides a variety of opportunities for students to be mentored throughout their time at RMU as well as to serve as mentors to youth in the community. Two of its signature programs are the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).

Students in diverse majors, who are interested in pursuing professional careers in the nonprofit sector, can receive personalized and ongoing mentoring from the Director of Student Civic Engagement through RMU’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program. The NLA Program introduces students to career opportunities in fields as varied as higher education, health care, the arts, international relations, and human services, to name a few. Through a combination of course work, workshops, an internship, a student club and attendance at a national conference, students develop skills that help to prepare them for entry level professional positions. Students work on the requirements for the NLA Program at their own pace, meeting one-on-one with the OSCE Director throughout their years at RMU. NLA students also benefit from the mentoring relationship with their internship site supervisor at organizations as diverse as Boy Scouts of America, the Pittsburgh Symphony, UPMC, and United Way, among many others.

Encourage your student to investigate the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program by contacting Donna Anderson, Director of Student Civic Engagement at 412-397-3674 or

RMU students have the opportunity to give back to the community through the campus chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which partners with a nearby afterschool program run by the Felician Sisters. BBBS serves children in communities who need help the most, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty and coping with parental incarceration. Over the course of the academic year, RMU works with a BBBS site coordinator to train and place thirty student mentors, known as “Bigs”, at Mooncrest, a local impoverished housing plan. As a Big, each student serves as a mentor to an at-risk child in the neighborhood. RMU Bigs commit to visiting with their mentees, or “Littles”, in a group setting once each week. During these visits, Bigs not only help their Littles with homework, they also play board games, create arts and crafts, and engage in outdoor play as time allows. Each Big/Little relationship is different—ensuring that the individual mentor’s and mentee’s needs and wishes are met.

While there is an application process to become a Big, any RMU student is invited to interview for the program. Regardless of major, age, or background every student has something valuable to offer to a child in need. The thought of mentoring a struggling child can be daunting at times, however, as long as the mentor has a genuine interest in creating a meaningful and committed friendship with their mentee they can make a positive and lasting impact.

If your student is interested in becoming a Big, they can contact Jessica Mann, Volunteer Service Coordinator at 412-397-3835 or to learn more about the program.


Planning a successful career is a challenging endeavor. Career Center staff members are available to help students at every step along the way and provide a variety of resources and services. Without question, networking is an important part of the career planning process. Therefore, the staff encourages students to connect with networking contacts working in their field who can provide specific career information and job search advice. To build their network, students are encouraged to conduct informational interviews, shadow professionals on the job, participate in part-time jobs and internships, and attend job fairs and networking events. In addition to meeting networking contacts through these experiences, students will ideally find a mentor. Like networking contacts, mentors essentially provide career advice and assistance. However, the relationship with a mentor is a longer commitment, and the mentor has more of an investment in the mentee's future. Finding a mentor can be invaluable to a student during college as well as throughout their career.

Whether searching for a networking contact or a mentor, students must first explore initial connections with professionals working in their field of interest. To assist students in this process, several years ago the Career Center started an online alumni networking program through ColonialTRAK, the office's job posting and registration database. While many alumni were willing and excited to join the program, maintaining current information proved to be a difficult challenge, as alumni changed jobs or contact information.

Due to the increased popularity of LinkedIn, the largest professional networking site, the Career Center decided in fall 2012 to transition its networking program from ColonialTRAK to a specific group in LinkedIn, called the "Robert Morris University Career Network." The group provides an opportunity for current RMU students, alumni, faculty, and staff to connect with each other about career-related topics. Students can connect with other members to explore career information and learn about specific fields. Career Center information such as resume and interviewing tips, job search strategies, and networking/employment events will also be posted to this group. Members will have the opportunity to join subgroups where they can discuss opportunities related to their career field. To participate, students should create an account on Once an account has been created, students will be able to search “Robert Morris University Career Network” and join the group. Although the group was just recently launched, the Career Center expects it to grow quickly and provide many valuable opportunities for students to connect with alumni, faculty and staff.


In September RMU marked the successful completion of the largest fundraising campaign in RMU history and the opening of the Wheatley Center, the new building for the School of Communications and Information Systems (SCIS) at the university’s main campus in Moon Township.

The 50,000-square-foot facility includes an art gallery, a 3-D design room, a screening room, computer labs, a café, and more. It was named for Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) a slave, poet, and the first African-American woman to publish a book. The name was selected by SCIS full-time faculty and staff and announced during the event.

The Wheatley Center is possible thanks to the $40 million Changing Lives, Building Futures fundraising campaign, which also paid for the School of Business building that opened last year.

“This building is symbolic of how the capital campaign has contributed to the ongoing transformation of Robert Morris University while allowing us to stay true to the mission and core values that this community embraces like no other university I've seen,” said Gregory G. Dell’Omo, president of Robert Morris University.

More than 8,200 donors contributed to the university over the course of the campaign, which launched in 2006. Other campaign achievements include 30 new scholarship funds and an endowed research center, the RMU Research Center on Black Male Educational Student Success, which is funded through a gift from The Heinz Endowments. Dell'Omo noted that the center grew out Crawley's own research, which also is the basis of the Black Male Leadership Development Institute and the Black Male Empowerment Network at RMU.

"This is just one powerful example of how RMU faculty continuously link their academic research to real world applications, which, in turn, help change lives at RMU and beyond," said Dell'Omo.

A highlight of the evening was the opening of the first exhibition, “Reframing Research,” which featured research-based art work by Media Arts faculty.

"The building provides a beautiful, bright, vibrant, and inviting atmosphere for teaching, learning, and engagement," said Barbara J. Levine, dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems. "It will be open to the entire university and members of the community for events like seminars, workshops, gallery exhibitions, screenings, and theatrical performances. It's really a wonderful addition to the RMU campus."

The School of Communications and Information Systems includes degree programs in communication, media arts, computer and information systems, English, and organizational leadership. Its new building is part of a plan to give each of RMU’s five schools its own dedicated space. The university soon will break ground on a medical simulation center for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, set to open in 2013.