College is about learning and creating experiences. This year at UMPI, a position was created to bring those elements in. Meet Sarah Coyer: Sarah is director of student life at UMPI. Sarah’s office is located in the Emerson Annex and from her window she can see the pathways students are traveling to class, residential halls and other destinations on campus. Her view captures her position: students’ lives outside the classroom and helping set the right path for their success.
Sarah joined UMPI at the end of October, but is no stranger to college campuses. Sarah is from Wisconsin, where she earned her undergraduate degree in theater. During her time as a student, Sarah worked as a resident assistant in the halls. She explained that during her undergraduate years, the staff and faculty were her role models: she wanted to be them. Sarah had a deep desire to help people.
Sarah has experience from working in different types of colleges, from private, to a “Big 10” public university and now a smaller public university. Sarah’s decision to work at UMPI is based on wanting to go back to a small, public campus and UMPI fit that description perfectly. She also found the U Maine System interesting, with the system accreditation and strong connection among all the campuses.
Being new, Sarah has been learning about UMPI. Sarah currently lives on campus. “I loved being a student so much, I decided to be a student forever,” she said, laughing. As she learns the process, she wants to understand and ask questions. “She asks good questions, but also listens. I think that’s very important,” Dr. Jacqui Lowman said. Dr. Lowman is on different committees with Sarah and noted her: “can-do attitude” and ability to look at the big picture for UMPI. Sarah said she wants to “honor the traditions while bringing in new ideas.” Her ultimate question for students is: “How can we better serve you?”
Sarah noted that everyone at UMPI cares for the students. “The students are the best part,” she said, as she explained she gets to work with students at all different parts of their lives. She’s passionate about caring for the students. She said the staff has the same motivation of wanting to care for the students and it’s powerful. “Having an awesome group of people is the best way to find satisfaction in your work,” she said, with a gleaming smile as the passionate emotion came from her statement.
Sarah said in her position she would like to incorporate a residential curriculum: learning outside the classroom. She explained that learning outside the classrooms is just as important as inside. Students need to learn the material for their career, but need life skills and experiences from outside the classroom. The goal is to manage life, because life outside college doesn’t stop. Sarah’s position helps support students when life hits.
Sarah’s vision is that she wants all students to have an intense feeling of belonging and mattering to the campus community. She touched greatly on wanting to reach all students: on and off campus students, online, international, part-time, older students, new students and even the local community, too. She explained that everyone comes in at different levels but has the potential to grow and develop. The staff is here to help navigate.