Kansas State University


K-State Parents and Family Program

Meet Assistant VP for Student Life: Dr. Stephanie Bannister

Director of Parent & Family Relations Mindy Weixelman sat down with Assistant VP for Student Life Dr. Stephanie Bannister in 122 Anderson Hall to learn about resources available to K-State students for academic support.

Mindy:  Thank you so much for meeting with me today.  Parents and families often share with me that academic support is one of their main areas of interest, concern and sometimes even a little anxiety.  They want to make sure their student takes advantage of all the resources available.  I’ve compiled a list of questions that I think will respond to some of the frequently asked questions. Are you ready?

Stephanie:  You bet!  Lets dive right in.

Mindy:  The term academic support or academic assistance can mean a lot of different things to students and their families. Tell us what academic support means at K-State?

Asst. VP for Student Life Dr. Stephanie Bannister

Stephanie:  Accessible, Empowering and Affordable. The Academic Assistance Center located in Holton Hall has a rich tradition of supporting student success at K-State. Any K-State student at any juncture during their time at K-State can take advantage of our programs. Academic coaching is tailored to support the student in identifying growth areas, setting goals, and building a toolkit to help them achieve more. This program along with our Tutoring Services are free to students. At no cost a student can sign up online for small group scheduled or walk-in sessions in a wide range of subjects and at student centered time. For a student who is seeking a more intensive support for a course like Intro to Biology we offer supplemental instruction. SI (supplemental Instruction) can be enrolled in and is a 1 credit course that meets weekly with a peer leader who has excelled in the content area and actually attends the lecture each week and then teaches study techniques and reinforces content. These are just a few of the support options.

Mindy:  That’s a helpful definition.  Now that we’re all on the same page with what academic assistance means, give us a feel for how many students the Academic Assistance Center serves throughout a semester?

Stephanie:  A semester average for students taking advantage of tutoring is 1,700, academic coaching 450, and supplemental instruction 400. We also offer presentations and workshops to the university community and through 70 outreach sessions a year reach hundreds of students.

Mindy:  At this time of the year, many students are looking to secure a part-time job on campus.  Are there part-time job opportunities for students within Academic Assistance?

Stephanie:  WOW! Yes, the Academic Assistance Center is 1 of the largest on campus employers at K-State. This year more than 100 students are serving as tutors, Supplemental Instruction leaders, and student office assistants!

Mindy:  I’m glad I asked!  I want to make sure parents know that part-time job opportunities can be found online at the K-State Career Center website.

I’m going to switch gears on you for a minute.  You have a new role at K-State!  Congratulations on your recent promotion.  What does it mean to be an Assistant Vice President for Student Life focusing on Educational & Personal Development?

Stephanie:  Well, for starters my position is building upon the work of long-time student life leaders who combined had served K-State over 80 years – so where to begin…. Their legacy left such a solid footing that it allowed for reorganizing throughout the division and new collaborations between the academic and student life parts of campus. What that means is that I get to work with talented student life professionals who have a great vision of where to go and have been doing tremendous work. I get the best of this work which is to call people to the table from all parts of campus to learn and listen and find ways to collaborate and make our work more accessible to more students. We want a student at K-State to feel cared for and to know we are here so each and every day it is about making sure we are sharing our vision, meeting new colleagues, working to support the academic mission of K-State and at every turn keeping student success at the forefront.

Mindy:  What are you enjoying most about your new role?

Stephanie:  Learner is in my top 5 strengths and that has to be it – I love that at this point in my career I am getting to learn about a new part of the university, to bring people together and to sheer progress that supports students.

Mindy:  Awww, the Learner strength fits you perfectly.  Let’s talk about vision for a moment.  What does the future look like for academic assistance at K-State?

Stephanie:  We are diversifying our outreach to make sure we are serving today’s learners well while also making sure our relationships with the academic units allow us to support their mission and support students. There is nothing but upside and growth on the horizon!

Mindy:  If memory serves me, you’ve been at K-State for around 18 years…I think?  What do you enjoy most about working at K-State?

Stephanie:  Yes, I’ve been at K-State since 1999. What I enjoy most is the focus on students. I have worked at other institutions and K-State truly puts students first. I love that – that is why we are here.

Mindy:  Share two ways that Academic Assistance helps K-State students be successful.

Stephanie:  Sure.  A student can apply for a tutoring session, an academic coach, or an academic skills presentation online 24/7!  As for the second, I’m proud of the fact that we are super accessible – walk in, call, email, tweet, text us if we don’t know the answer we will track it down on your behalf.

Mindy:  If a student or parent has a question, how can they contact you?

Stephanie:  Text, tweet, email, call – Stephanie Bannister @drsbann (785) 313-1805.

Mindy:  Now we’re moving into my favorite part…advice for students and parents.  What is the best kept secret about Academic Assistance at K-State?

Stephanie:  That almost all our services are available at no cost. We have a team of trained academic coaches who are here with the sole focus of meeting with students to determine what success means to them and then to walk alongside that student to achieve their goals. I don’t know of another institution who has that commitment to student learning.

Mindy:  I’ve learned so much from our conversation today, and hope K-State parents and families have too.  Is there anything else you want to share with us?

Stephanie:  College is one of the biggest challenges you and your student will face together.  I tell my students day 1 of class how to reach me – every student who meets me knows how to reach me. I am not an anomaly, we want you to reach out. I am not going to give students the answers but I will work with them to find them and I am confident that students who leave K-State are prepared to make a difference because they have developed self-authorship.

Mindy:  Stephanie, it’s obvious to me that you enjoy what you do.  Thank you for sharing information with parents and families about resources available for academic support.  I’m hopeful this information will spark some good conversations between parents and students.  Have a great week, and GO CATS!

Dr. Bannister has a bitmoji!