My Mission, My Job: Student success

Published: Thursday 27th August 2015

Peter Pellicaan 

ACU Student Success Manager Peter Pellicaan says many organisations have their mission statements prominently displayed in the office – but is what is “written on the wall, happening down the hall?”

“Whether it’s a leadership summit, an oratory competition, a receiving results session or a Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) session, every event brief in our unit must include a statement about how this initiative contributes to the mission,” Peter said. 

“This might sound cumbersome at first, but it has become central to our planning and is ensuring that our unit is functioning with a clear sense of purpose.” 

Peter was part of a group of ACU staff who recently attending the Mission Integration Institute (MII) at the University of San Diego.

For the past three years ACU has been sending staff to the MII’s program, which caters for entry-level and mid-career professional administrators in Catholic higher education and allows them to reflect on the role and Mission of a Catholic institution. 

Peter’s Student Success Unit provides quality support services and programs and learning opportunities to enable each student to develop to their full potential.

He said ACU’s Mission Statement is of central importance to SSU operations and “gets to the very core of why we exist”. 

“The mission statement asserts that we’re committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person and the common good,” he said.

“Our understanding of these pursuits is informed by the Catholic Intellectual tradition, and our implementation of these pursuits – the how – is in truth and love. But is what’s ‘written on the wall, happening down the hall?' ”

The Student Success Unit is engaged in student transactions, leadership, advocacy, enrichment and retention. 

To ensure that the Student Success Unit is contributing to the mission Peter said  the team spent most of its first staff conference focussed on mission integration. 

From these collaborative discussions, the unit began embedding a ‘mission contribution’ aspect in all our initiatives. 

Another key area of mission integration has been in regard to how we engage with students and staff in terms of conflict.

"'Truth in love’ and ‘the dignity of the human person’ must be front and centre when dealing with conflict. 

"For the Student Success Unit, mission integration is bringing synergy, direction and purpose.

"We’re committed to giving people dignity, even when their actions are undignified.”

"We work as a team on developing good will with staff and students – believing the best about others and always remaining calm, gentle and professional; even if the person we’re dealing with is not.”  

"I’d encourage all staff, if you haven’t already; to start a conversation around the mission statement as it has the potential to bring a new sense of purpose to your work,” Peter said. 

"A mission statement can only be as effective as it is enacted. Is what’s written on the wall happening down the hall?”