Following a two year research and selection process, a student and staff committee selected Presence as the software to support the new, all inclusive Valparaiso University campus organizations dashboard.
“We actually went through about a two year window where we researched different software systems and we did demo calls with the top three we identified,” said Ryan Bye, Director of Student Involvement and New Student Programs. “Presence fit our campus and user interface the best.”
Presence has been renamed to MyValpo to remain a more recognizable VU program. Within MyValpo, upcoming events can be located, as well as student organizations and departments on campus.
The software, being a public site, allows prospective and current students to view a list of campus organizations. More filters can be applied from there, categorizing organizations to best fit the viewer's interests. Public members can only view the site, whereas VU students have their own accounts. In addition to student organizations, MyValpo contains campus-wide forms that range anywhere from open organization positions to registration forms.
“MyValpo is designed to be the central hub for all student organization and co-curricular opportunities. So really how it’ll help current students is it provides one central hub for them to track all their involvement, as well as what’s happening on campus, such as events, co-curricular opportunities that are going on and the opportunities Valpo has to offer them outside their classroom experience,” Bye said.
Campus organizations are able to provide a brief description of their group, general meeting times and locations and include tags. Tags tie each club to various characteristics that help users to understand the components each organization has. Community service, recreational sports and spiritual/religious are just a few of the options.
Similarly, the university’s various departments can be added to the software. Departments are also able to promote upcoming social events, performances and meetings. Any organization or entity that has gone through the proper recognition process through Student Senate is able to be featured.
“Overall, [MyValpo] helps us understand what the student population needs and wants from us,” said Molly Rabe, Assistant Director of Student Activities. “The more we all get to know the software, the more familiar we all get with it, we can actually enhance the student experience.”
From a data driven perspective, the platform allows for student organizations to access statistics that were previously unavailable. These include attendance for general meetings and events, as well as student demographic information all accessible via the MyValpo website.
“You also have the backend where you can check people in [at events] so you can see what kind of students you’re getting and who is interested and kind of do some strategic thinking there,” Rabe said. “You can see a breakdown of how many people came to your event, the basic demographics like age, gender, ethnicity and also what school they’re from.”
Among student organizations and departments, Residential Life (ResLife) and Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) have taken advantage of the software’s features. Residential Assistants from ResLife can post about their upcoming community events and provide descriptions. The attendance feature is utilized by FSL to keep track of chapter participation around campus.
While attendance and event advertising are the primary features the platform offers, the financial component is another aid to the success of student organizations.
“Presence also has a finance module. So as organizations get on-boarded onto MyValpo, they’ll have the opportunity to track their budgets and track their spending as well, making sure they’re getting reimbursed or spending their money properly,” Bye said.
MyValpo is a tool that shows not only what students are getting involved with, but how they are becoming involved in the campus community as a whole. Residential and commuter students alike will be able to build their profiles and customize their VU engagement.
“What I hope for it to accomplish is to make sure all students get connected on campus and that all students are able to find their home and MyValpo really allows us to see who is going to events, but on the flip side of that, who is not getting connected outside the classroom and those are the students we can reach out to to make sure they’re feeling connected in some way,” Bye said.
MyValpo can be accessed at valpo.presence.io. Students or organizations having issues or questions regarding the software should contact Molly Rabe or Ryan Bye.
“People can be frustrated when transitioning to a new platform, but this transitioning period is important. We’re here to help and I think once we all get trained and have proper access, I think this tool can be really useful,” Rabe said.