SAAG Supports Student Engagement with Two New Projects

By Casey Kohler, coordinator of student services, SUNY Empire State College

February 19, 2015

Female holding note: idea plan actionAs a student, it is important to find ways to connect with the college. With demanding class schedules, family lives, work and everything that comes along with being an adult learner, the question sometimes comes to how. In answer to that question, the Student and Alumni Advisory Group (SAAG) is working on two projects in 2015 to connect students with the college.

SAAG was revitalized in the Spring 2013 term with a small group of students who had been nominated by their mentors. From that time, SAAG has grown to include a diverse group of students and alumni who share in common: “How can we give back and engage the college community?” This question comes up at our monthly meetings, and in November and December 2014 we set out to finalize projects that can encourage a greater connection to college for all students.

Greg Cleveland joined SAAG in September 2014 and is driven toward interacting with students, faculty, staff and alumni using the Student Life page in Mahara as a student lounge. Cleveland recently said, “I believe there is an opportunity here to enhance the college experience.” He added, “This platform gives students and alumni the opportunity to connect with their peers beyond the online classroom. Some professors add an ongoing 'off topic' discussion to their courses, but those conversations disappear at the end of the semester. Wouldn't it be great to stay in touch with your classmates throughout your college journey?” The Student Life page is open to all students who have a Moodlerooms login and you can access information and resources from the page. If you would like more information on accessing the Student Life page, please email Amy Giaculli (

Mollie Muenzen ’13 and Heather Elford ‘14 are both alumni members of SAAG, and they aim to use the enhanced conversations in CDL Student Life to help drive their project to provide care packages to military and veterans. Both Muenzen and Elford attended the Center for Distance Learning commencement in 2013 and 2014 and commented that they were “impressed by the heartfelt and spontaneous expressions of support for the graduates who were present that served in the military.”In collaboration with the Office of Veteran and Military Education, SAAG will be rolling out a plan to collect necessary items to get packages put together and distributed before June 2015. “Our main goal is to find a way to engage our college community in a physical and positive expression of gratitude.”

As one of the advisors for SAAG, I love connecting with the group each month. SAAG continues to evolve, and we hope to see positive change come from these two projects across the state. If you are interested in learning more about SAAG, our projects, or would like to apply to become a member for the 2015-2016 academic year, email

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Article Contributors

Andy Binder

Anita DeCianni Brown

Helen Edelman

David Henahan

Casey Kohler

AmyRuth Tobol

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