Student Services Office
Message from Bob Hann, Vice-President Student Services
St. Mary’s is a student-centred university. In Student Services we live this commitment every day with a focus on Access, Success and Engagement. We believe that as post-secondary studies become more important than ever, we must remove barriers to access. We strive to achieve this by increasing capacity; by ensuring that we grow our scholarships and bursaries; by creating clearly defined and well-communicated pathways; and by implementing effective transition programs. To help ensure success, we work with students to guarantee that their program matches their career plan through our early alert programs and active academic strategies. We stress the importance of engagement by implementing policies and practices which reflect our emphasis on Diversity, Inclusion and Openness, and by offering connections to the community through volunteer, service learning, and student leadership opportunities.
Prospective Students Get to Experience our Welcoming Campus
Being on campus and experiencing St. Mary’s University community atmosphere is the best way to showcase what we can offer students. Whether it is meeting with a professor, hanging out with current students having lunch in our Café, or sitting in on a class, prospective students quickly learn what makes St. Mary’s unique. St. Mary’s welcomes school groups each year for special “mini-open house” events customized for them. Students attend short lectures delivered by St. Mary’s professors and get a quick snapshot of our areas of academic study. More importantly, it is a chance for these students to meet faculty and staff directly. People are the greatest selling feature in our small and welcoming community. Students who get to our campus “get it.”
Supporting our Students’ Academic Success
The Learning Centre offers diverse programs and services aimed to foster our students’ academic success. All students are encouraged to meet with peer mentors at the Writing Centre to work on their academic writing or course content comprehension. During orientation, first-year students sign a 12-strategies commitment to academic success and are invited to attend success strategies seminars throughout the academic year. Our Study Room offers a quiet space, with access to printed and online resources where students can work individually or in groups. With five individual workstations, our Testing Services room is available for accommodated exams and external proctoring.
Academic advisors are available to help walk you through the process of going to university. Whether you have questions about the programs we offer, how to apply, which courses to select, all the way up to how to graduate, advisors are here to answer your questions and help you through your university career. You do not need to be an expert on how to navigate university. By seeking out the assistance of an academic advisor, you can have someone to work with you from application to graduation to ensure you are getting the most out of your university experience and meeting your educational goals. Contact academic advising today!
St. Mary’s offers opportunities throughout the school year for current students to get help to prepare for the job search after university such as, resume writing, career fairs, etc. We have had panel discussions with employers to talk about how to be successful in discovering your career passion and how to start your way down your chosen path. Our career fair is a chance for students to meet prospective employers and possible mentors in various industries. Networking and spending time working on job search skills is critical to career success, and we hope to get students thinking about how to be successful after university.
Counselling & Health Services
The Director of Campus Ministry is available for spiritual counselling to assist students, faculty and staff in spiritual growth as well as personal and relational issues. Campus Ministry provides a safe, supportive and healing environment for all. Conversations can be on a drop-in basis or by appointment at the Campus Ministry Office.
St. Mary’s University provides free, professional and confidential counselling to current students. Our on-campus therapist and social worker, Carrie Grant, is a sensitive and respectful listener who works with students to assist in identifying and resolving personal problems and academic concerns. When necessary she will refer students to appropriate community resources or services. To book a confidential appointment, please call Carrie Grant at (403) 245-5789.
What is an Academic Accommodation?
Academic accommodations are educational practises, systems and support mechanisms designed to accommodate persons with disabilities, and are an alteration in the usual way students perform academic tasks. For example, writing examinations in a course would typically be a course requirement; however, writing the answers to essay examinations by hand would typically not be essential. Therefore, a student who has difficulty writing by hand because of a disability may be permitted the use of a computer to complete the examinations. In this case, the use of a computer would be the accommodation.
Rafael de la Peña, MPsy, BA
Director, Learning Centre
I have a physical/learning disability. What documentation do I need to receive accommodations?
St. Mary’s students seeking disability and/or medically-related accommodations and services and/or funding for assistive services and technology are required to provide documentation from a qualified professional such as a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, audiologist, ophthalmologist, or other licensed specialist. The documentation should be current (usually no more than 3 years must have elapsed between the time of assessment and the date of initial request for documentation), and the documentation should:
- Clearly outline the impact the disability or condition has on the student in an academic setting and;
- Identify or recommend specific accommodations and supports that would reduce the barriers encountered in an academic setting.
The Accommodations Coordinator will use this documentation as well as interviews with the student to determine appropriate disability-related accommodations and supports. Some conditions are subject to change (e.g., relapses, remissions). Therefore, to ensure the identification of impacts and functional limitations can be properly addressed, updated medical documentation may be requested, periodically, throughout the duration of the program. A diagnosis of a disability, medical condition, or disorder alone is not sufficient to be eligible for accommodations and supports. The learning environment must be sufficiently inaccessible or barred such that the student’s ability to perform tasks required to achieve his or her educational goals to his or her potential is negatively impacted.
When should I meet to discuss my academic accommodations?
New students are encouraged to contact the Accommodations Coordinator in Spring/Early Summer to discuss their disability, and to ensure that they have the necessary documentation. This timeframe also gives the student time to apply for the Student Aid Alberta Student with Disabilities Grants should they wish to secure Student Loan funding. The Accommodations Coordinator can assist with the following: determine eligibility for accommodations, facilitate appropriate accommodations, provide adaptive technology supports and training, arrange for assistive services, facilitate accommodated exams, and provide information about funding for students with disabilities.
Who do I need to disclose my disability to?
Students seeking accommodations must self-identify to the Accommodations Coordinator, who keeps detailed documentation of each student’s disability on file. Students may inform their instructors of their accommodations if they choose to, however they are not required to disclose this information, nor the nature of their disability.