Assisting Our Off-Campus and Commuter Students

Approximately 19,000 undergraduate and graduate students either live in areas surrounding campus or commute to the university. These students account for a large majority of our campus population, and Student Life leadership is always looking for ways to assist with matters that are most important to them.

courtneypThis summer, we welcomed Courtney Pearson to the Office of New Student and Family Programs as UT’s first-ever coordinator for off-campus and commuter services. Courtney is working with campus departments to identify the needs of off-campus and commuter students while also connecting these populations with on-campus programs and services that will positively impact their student experience.

Learn a little more about Courtney and what she has planned for this year:

Where is your hometown?

Memphis, Tennessee

Where did you attend college?

I attended the University of Mississippi where I received a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English-education and a Master’s of Arts in higher education/student personnel.

I’m currently a member of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Clearinghouse for Commuter Programs.

Tell us one interesting fact about you:

I was the 2012 University of Mississippi Homecoming Queen.

What are your hobbies?

I really enjoy trying out things I find on Pinterest like recipes or DIY projects and crafts. I enjoy going to CrossFit. I also love going to concerts with people and going to movies by myself.

What are you most looking forward to in this new position?

I am looking forward to advocating for the large population of students that live off campus. This is such a unique population with a distinct set of needs. I am hopeful that students will come to me and utilize programs that we are launching this year to share concerns and ideas to enhance their experience. This position allows us to be innovative and creative and interact with students in a way that has never been done before.

It’s exciting for the university and it’s exciting for me because I have the opportunity to take a vision from the Division of Student Life and establish a program that will positively impact our students’ off-campus experience.

Below are some of the short and long-terms goals of our Off-Campus and Commuter Services:

  • Collect data to understand the characteristics, needs, and experiences of off-campus and commuters students.
  • Coordinate commuter appreciation initiatives to improve the commuter student experience and provide opportunities to offer support for off-campus and commuter students.
  • Provide a website and supplemental resources in order to increase student access to off-campus living arrangements, information regarding renting rights and responsibilities, student code of conduct jurisdiction, and other relevant off-campus and commuter student considerations.
  • Provide educational and developmental opportunities to impact informative decision making for off-campus and commuter students to achieve independence and establish autonomy.
  • Coordinate, assess, and revise the UT to West Tennessee program in order to provide assistance to UT students in need of transportation to West Tennessee during Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks.
  • Revise and coordinate orientation and Welcome Week sessions and programs to specifically address the needs, resources, and engagement of off-campus and commuter students.
  • Comprise opportunities for student interaction through commuter liaison/neighborhood ambassadors, cohorts, and other instituted student groups that place value on positively impacting student engagement and success for off-campus and commuter students.
  • Establish a collaborative communication system and/or forum to promote to off-campus and commuter students opportunities for engagement, interaction with faculty, staff, peers, as well as highlight community corporations that meet students’ off-campus services such as utilities, grocery, automobile maintenance, banking and finance, and health services.
  • Provide a forum for off-campus and commuters students to remain connected to UT by establishing a relationship with off-campus residential properties to promote the integrity of the student experience.

Off-Campus and Commuter Services will also produce Commuter Corner, a monthly update specifically designed for commuter and off-campus students. Check Vol Update for a link to each new edition. Click here for the first edition of the semester.