While Brian Cuzzolina, Director of the OAR and Associate Dean for Student Academic Success and Persistence, cannot take credit for initiating the research on following up on students who take leaves, Cuzzolina is excited to take on the responsibility of understanding why students choose to take leaves and why they do or do not return to Haverford. Cuzzolina’s role in the overall project is more qualitative, which involves researching whether leaves are helpful to students and what in that process isn’t. Another focus of the project is determining ways in which the Dean’s Office can better support students from the conception of taking leave all the way to the return: “[the Dean’s office] wants to make sure that [the reason of leave] is given enough space and thought on a student’s perspective to think about what happened so upon return they’re not dealing with the same challenge or barrier that they had prior.”
Cuzzolina hopes that student partnerships will help bring the project to life: “I am hesitating on the timeline [of the project]; I always want to be here listening to students… I’d like to be able to set some kind of feedback loop where we’re constantly hearing from some students.” Cuzzolina wants to create a “sustainable and systematic” practice in which students have a certain conduit where they can share feedback with the Dean’s Office. The project will have checkpoints of data collection. “I’m curious, are there ways in which some of these things [policies for leave] seem hidden? Or stigmatized? And what are the ways in which we can make [the process] more transparent and de-stigmatize, to make it something that it’s just a part of the academic process?” – Cuzzolina aims to bring more transparency to the Haverford’s community through this project.