Jodi Campbell is the Executive Director of the Athabasca University Students’ Union. Originally from BC, he grew up in the Lloydminster area and eventually moved to Edmonton in 2002 where he attended MacEwan University and graduated from the School of Business in 2006. He started working for MacEwan University as a Consultant/Advisor for the School of Business and became the General Manager of the MacEwan University Students’ Union in 2013. In early 2017, he began work with AUSU as its executive director.
As we enter into the final season of 2018, what are some updates on the services for students for AUSU since the first half of the year for the student union?
2018 has been a blur in so many ways. We have such a great team here at AUSU, which allows us to cruise along and accomplish so many things within this high paced environment. In my first year as Executive Director, we were very much focused on establishing a solid structure to which the organization would operate. This included overhauling our bylaws and policies, developing solid control processes within our financial structure, building a professional and highly motivated team of staff who are passionate about student success, developing our 3-year strategic plan, and preparing for our 2018 general election to just name a few.
Now that I’m closing in on the end of my second year as ED, we have started to dive into more specific areas of the organization, such as student engagement, how we communicate to students throughout the year, identifying the actual needs of an AU student, as well as ensuring we continue to foster positive transition activities for our executives and council to engage in. The latter might be the most important of them all.
Lately, I’m really loving what our council, and more specifically our member engagement and communications committee (MECC), is currently doing regarding our AUSU services. We have some cool ideas being generated like, the creation of an AUSU podcast, partnering with ProctorU (online exam invigilation service), plus more and more AUSU events and student engagement opportunities like our Meet & Greets and FaceBook Live.
Our executive team is one of the best I’ve worked with and I anticipate much more will be accomplished as we get closer to 2019 and the second half of the EC term.
Did AUSU meet most of the goals for the year?
Yeah, definitely. The 2017-2018 year was incredible for AUSU. We went from being a small organization trying to find its identity into a dynamic, professional students’ union that is healthy and sustainable moving forward. AUSU is officially on the map when it comes to having a presence in the students’ union industry and we are proving ourselves to AU as being an amazing student resource for the university. Something we are very proud of.
What have been the most exciting developments for 2018?
There are a few things that stand out to me, one is how great our 2018 general election was. We went into that election needing to almost double our council from 7 councillors to 13. Not only did we achieve this number, but we found some amazing students that have helped to elevate our council and take the baton from our previous council who really set the bar for this group. The second element we are currently enjoying is the success of all the work that was put into our financial management last year. Words like transparency and accountability come to mind as we have just wrapped up another AUSU budgeting season, which included review and consultation from all levels of the organization.
This has led us to our first balanced budget in a number of years. A major contributor to this effort was the council approved fee increase that took place last spring and will go into effect starting with all course registrations that begin on October 1st and beyond. We’ve also taken our social media to the next level with the addition of Instagram (@austudentsunion) this summer. We’ve had a blast connecting with AU students on this platform and have brought some fun into our student engagement with new contests and loads of prizes for our members to win. Stay tuned for more of this coming throughout the year.
Looking at 2019, what are the plans of AUSU? What can students expect to be rolled out in 2019?
I think 2019 will be an opportunity for our entire team to reflect on a busy couple of years. First thing will be to continue to refine our executive transition activities as we head into another election in Feb ’19. I will also be busy starting the collaboration process with council to establish our next 3-year strategic plan, as our current plan will conclude at the end of 2019. You can anticipate the AUSU podcast will be ready in the new year, as well, we will be undergoing a face-lift to our AUSU.org website, so there will definitely be no lack of work to go around.
Since you’re the ED of AUSU, what different services does AUSU offer for students? Many newer students may not know about them. Many returning students may not know about the updates to them.
You’re absolutely right, a big part of our role as a students’ union is to continually stay on the new trends and find unique and fun ways to offer them to our membership. One way we will be connecting to new students this year is through a new student mailout. As soon as a student at AU registers in their second course at AU, they will receive communication in the mail from AUSU outlining our services and how we can be of service to them throughout their academic career at AU. It will answer the question, “What does AUSU do for you?”
The other primary service we offer is our awards program, which distributes approximately $64,000 in scholarships, awards, and bursaries annually to students. We have developed our awards to be diverse, open, and inclusive, so every student can potentially have the opportunity to be eligible for one. Many times students find us when they are in a jam and we want to be there for them. Sometimes this can be in the form of advice, pointing someone in the right direction to get the information they need, or possibly in the form of financial support through our year-round bursaries. Whatever form it might come in, we want to be a solid resource for students, so be sure to reach out to us if the needs arises. Our toll-free number is 1-855-497-7003.
Also, for a fun question, what is the most exciting, intriguing, or funny development coming out of AUSU?
Well, there is no doubt the podcast project is going to be a blast and we’re looking to have some fun with this initiative when its ready. We are currently developing a podcast project plan that will outline everything from cost, required equipment, content of topics, frequency, etc. FB live has been successful for AUSU, and we hope that this will be another fun way to engage with students. The last FB live hosted by our VPEX, Melinda, which provided a tour of the Athabasca University campus was a huge hit, so stay tuned for sure.
Any other news or updates, as the ED, students should be aware of?
Council is currently discussing the potential development of a Student Advisory Committee, which would be an ad-hoc committee completely made up of students-at-large. I personally love this idea! The purpose of this committee will be to create an efficient way for AUSU council and the executive committee to garner student feedback on various topics throughout the year. We want to become experts in being able to tap into students as a strong resource when opportunities come up throughout the year. This will be a great way for students to get involved and become a resource for the students’ union. Otherwise, I encourage students to stay tuned for our AUSU podcast, more Meet & Greet events, the bylaws will be undergoing some minor edits later this fall, and our awards season is right around the corner with applications going live on September 20th. What student doesn’t love free money!