[Fresh] Interview with Tom Mogan, Dir. of Student Development

Kelly Eastland (kelly.eastland@villanova.edu)
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 09:24:43 -0400

Interview with Tom Mogan, Director of Student Development.

Fresh@News. Tom, Parents Weekend is just around the corner. Can you tell us a little about
the weekend?

Tom Mogan Parents' Weekend will take place on September 20-22th. Parents' Weekend is a time
for family and friends to visit the campus and learn about the Villanova Community. It's
also a great time to showcase our students' talents. From Athletic events, Theatre
productions to the Music Activities Showcase, Villanova students have a wealth of talent.
Of special interest this year is the appearance of Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes
and ‘Tis on Saturday, September 21 at 8:00pm.

Fresh@News. What events would you recommend to parents of new students?

TM. The weekend is designed so parents and family members can pick and choose from a
variety of receptions, lectures, and events. Parent's University offers a number of special
workshops where parents and family members will meet campus administrators and learn about
relevant issues that face Villanova students. The topics on this year’s schedule include
Global Education (study-abroad programs), Career Services and Nutrition News You Can Use.
There are other sessions offered by some of our most talented faculty that are designed to
enlighten parents on current issues. This year, we will have a session on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, in honor of McCourt’s appearance, a session on
contemporary Irish issues. Please check out the website for more details on these programs.

Fresh@News. Is Parents Weekend just for the parents?
TM. Not at all!!! We invite all family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings)
to participate in the weekend.

Fresh@News. How do we register for the event?
TM. If you haven't received the brochure in the mail, you can download it from the Parents
Website or call our office at 610.519.4210.

Fresh@News. Let's talk a little about what's happening on campus. Being the Director of
Student Development, you supervise a number of student organizations. One of the things we
hear from our students is there is not enough for them to do on weekends. Tell us more about
that.

TM. I hear that too, which always amazes me because, as I sometimes reply, "we have a
whole calendar of things to do."

F@N. Before we talk about some of the activities, let's probe the attitude. Why do they
say that?

TM. There are a few factors here. One is that students are now much more responsible for
their own time than they were in high school, so if they don't actively make some choices
and decisions, they will be sitting around alone. This in itself is a new experience for
some of our students, so in their social life, as well as in their academic life, they have
to take more responsibility for how they spend their time. Also, they have many more hours
of unstructured time to fill. Instead of being in high school five days a week, they may
have only 15 to 18 hours of class a week. Although the workload is usually much higher than
it was in High School, there certainly is a lot more unstructured time. Sometimes it takes
them awhile to learn how to fill some of that time.

F@N. How do students find out what's happening on campus?

TM. Actually information overload can be a problem. We make a lot of effort to get the
word out to students about activities on campus. Unfortunately, there are many campus
organizations competing for our students' attention through posters, ads, voice mails and
e-mails, so the students sometimes tune it out. The students have to learn to be more
pro-active, to review the options and to do some advance planning.

F@N. The thing I never understand is this; the students are surrounded by people of their
own age, so you would think that they would always enjoy just being with each other.

TM. That can work both ways. Remember, they are with other young people on a 24/7 basis
anyway. They are already spending a lot of time with their friends, so just getting together
with other students isn't something new. When the weekend rolls around they are looking for
something different.

F@N. What is there to do on the weekends?

TM. We offer many activities here on campus for our students, and lots of our first year
students have a great time. On any given weekend we typically have a band, movies, and all
of the things that students usually enjoy. The entertainment is organized by students for
students, so the activities are designed to appeal to this age group. Parents should
consult our website at www.villanova.edu/studentdevelopment to get a sense of some of what
is going on.

F@N I see advertisements for Late Night at Villanova. What is that about?

TM. In the past, many of our weekend activities would end at 10 PM and the student center
would close at about the same time. The problem is, of course, that many students aren't
ready to go to bed at 10 PM on a Saturday night. So, last year we started a new set of
on-campus activities that are available from 10 PM to 2 PM on Friday and Saturday evenings.
We always have free food, and our "Cyber Lounge" is open for pool and other games. At the
same time we offer programming with musicians and other activities. We also offer free
midnight showings of our movies. Generally we show movies that have just left the theater
but aren't out yet in video, such as "Spiderman” and other summer blockbusters.

F@N. We hear a lot about off-campus parties. What is going on with that?

TM. It is true that older students will often have off-campus parties. These parties might
be associated with a fraternity or sorority, or might be offered by other groups of upper
division students. Some of our first year students do go to these parties and they may have
a good experience. However, these parties are not supervised by the University so sometimes
problems do come up. When we can, we make efforts to work with some of these students on
proper risk-management, and we also spend a lot of energy with our first year students
educating them about making safe choices, but our main effort, as I have said, is providing
positive alternatives here on campus.

F@N. What about the surrounding area? There is certainly a lot going on. Do our students
take advantage of the Philadelphia area?

TM. We used to give a Philadelphia tour for seniors, and we were always surprised at how
many of our students really didn't know the city, especially given how well served we are by
public transportation. Two years ago we started a new program called "Best of Philly."
Once a month we offer a trip to Philadelphia, and we try to balance more serious activities
like going to a museum or a play with more traditional entertainment like going to a sports
event then going out for a "Philly cheesesteak." We hope that when students see how much
is going on and how easy it is to get into Philadelphia, that they will start to take
advantage of these opportunities themselves.

F@N. What about student clubs and organizations? What do we offer?

TM. We have over 90 clubs and organizations. The Activities Forum was held during the
first week of classes and now the individual clubs are recruiting more members. The
activities are a great way for students to meet other students outside their classes and
residence hall, and also to build leadership skills. One of the most popular organizations
is our Campus Activity Team (CAT) which arranges all of our on campus entertainments. Our
Special Olympics program is also very popular. We usually have over 1000 student volunteers
helping at our major Special Olympics event in the fall.

F@N Any other advice for parents?

TM. College is a great time for young people, but it does have challenges. Although we
talk a lot about the academic challenges, the social challenges can be every bit as
overwhelming. Sometimes students just want to sit and wait for something to come to them,
but they need to learn to be a bit more proactive. Parents can encourage them to explore
the many activities that are available to them and to take advantage of them.

This is a posting for Fresh@News, Villanova's e-mail news service for parents and friends of
the class of 2006. New subscribers can see the previous postings at:
http://news.villanova.edu/fresh/ Instructions on how to unsubscribe are given at the end of
this posting.

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