Going the extra mile: Arts Central awarded for dedication to student experience and well-being

March 10, 2023

Congratulations to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Arts Central team for receiving the 2022 SFU Staff Achievement - Student Service Award, which recognizes their outstanding ability to meet FASS students’ needs by going the “extra mile.”  

Primarily located on the third floor of the Academic Quadrangle (AQ) with a smaller presence at SFU’s Surrey campus, Arts Central supports more than 12,000 undergraduate students with its small but mighty team of 11 continuing staff members. As the student-facing hub for all FASS students, the team leads activities related to recruitment, community outreach, student engagement, retention, and advising.  

Accepting the award are Rosaline Baik, Toyosi Bamgboye, Bettina Cenerelli, Kaitlan Davis, Brian Fox, Meghan Grant, Elisa Herrell, Karonne Moszar, Tracey Sherwood, Wendy Szeto, Claudia Hart, and Claire de Lisser.  

Thanks to their close partnership with SFU Student Services for first- and second-year student advising, Arts Central has crafted a holistic approach to the FASS student experience, building synergies between first-year advising, recruitment, and engagement to ensure a seamless transition for students of different backgrounds and circumstances.

“The approach in Arts Central is inherently student-centred: our team respects the rules and applies them, but also sees the complex and holistic environment in which students are struggling,” says Bettina Cenerelli, Senior Director of Strategic Academic Planning and Student Affairs.  

Former student staff member Jessica Dela Cruz echoes this sentiment. “The Arts Central staff is a core pillar in the lives of FASS students. They prioritize the academic and social wellbeing of students from their first year until their graduation,” she says. “The many services the team provide to students are impactful and help with their growth and development as students, academics, and young adults.”

In the last two years, Arts Central pivoted into the remote environment, and then seamlessly returned to in-person delivery while continuing to implement the valuable lessons learnt from the pandemic.

During the pandemic-time university closure, Arts Central rebuilt all their recruiting activities and networking activities remotely with remarkable success. Within a few months, the team set up a wide range of completely new virtual activities. Its most notable successes include new projects such as the FASS e-Library (consisting of a broad selection of faculty presentations with over 2,500 views) and the virtual adaptation of the “FASS in the Class” project, which showcases research presentations by graduate students to prospective high school students. During the pandemic, more than 670 high school students in close to 40 schools booked “FASS in the Class” virtual appearances.  

Cenerelli says that throughout the pandemic, the team pulled together to find new ways to ensure that the service element remained central to the everyday work of Arts Central. “I am, simply put, impressed and amazed by the resilience, the dedication, and the unwavering support of all my colleagues in Arts Central for their students.”