Friday, February 25, 2011

Got Social Media? Get Some!

Today I took part in a "social media for faculty" workshop on campus, sponsored by the Charlotte Research Institute, Division for Academic Affairs and the Division for University Advancement. More than 50 folks showed up -- staff and faculty, many novices in blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking. Several were experienced, prolific users. All were interested -- and interesting.

On Twitter see #unccfsm11.

The subject at hand was if and how social media can be better utilized by university faculty (and staffers like me who work in communications). Some of the assertions by heavy users of social media who participated:

* Facebook may be jim dandy for fun and games, but Twitter and Blogging is the better vehicles for broadening personal knowledge, interacting with colleagues, engaging in debates on professional issues, promoting one's work product and opinions, finding support groups and staying connected with one's profession. (FB lovers, of which I am one: don't shoot the messenger!).

* Blogging is a writing laboratory for faculty and staff who publish regularly; blogging is good practice and opportunity for experimentation.

* All of social media is an intrusion into the pastoral pursuits of our already-harried professional and personal lives. Some folks just don't accept social media yet. But by sitting through four hours of workshop and engaging in debate, they showed that they recognize SM as a major force.

* For those who partake, social media should be engaged consistently, however periodic. Only by consistent use can you learn -- and actually gain insight into the people you engage with.

(Key word: engage?).

* Some people are threatened by social media, perhaps concerned about being washed to sea on the strong tide or worried to be left isolated on the beach.

One concerned participant approached me later and asserted that I should not have mentioned the amount of advertising dollars that are flowing into blogs. Seemed an innocent bit of data to me, but he received it as an ominous portent of ... corporate greed and potential pollution of faculty blogs. Hmm.

The workshop was a good thing. We shared. I learned.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An ever-safer campus

For 2010, UNC Charlotte recorded major decreases in campus crime. Reductions achieved by the University’s Police and Public Safety Department (PPS) were greater than those of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s University Division.

Robbery on campus declined 75 percent in 2010 versus 2009; larceny from auto was down 61 percent and auto theft dropped 78 percent. Within the CMPD University Division, the declines were 30, 10 and 26 percent, respectively.

“These statistics illustrate significant crime reductions, and the success that can be achieved through collaboration with CMPD and our campus partners – students, faculty and staff,” said Jeff Baker, UNC Charlotte’s interim police chief.

According to Baker, the ability to maintain a fully staffed department this past year contributed to the decline in crime on campus and within the surrounding neighborhoods.

“With full staffing, the department can perform more foot patrols in the academic areas, directed patrols in the parking decks and lots and provide quicker response to calls,” Baker stated.

The University’s PPS Department operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. In addition to the normal operations, the department provides a number of additional safety and security programs, such as RAD classes (Rape Aggression Defense), Operation ID and presentations related to identity theft, date rape, domestic violence and “club” drugs. Officers also participate in National Crime Victims Week, Take Back the Night and National Campus Safety Awareness Month.

A new initiative for its community policing program involves posting an officer at the Student Union. Officer Jerry Lecomte will be stationed at the building to provide information to students and address any concerns from the campus community.

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