This has been a year unlike any other. It has been unpredictable and we have experienced a lot of change. What has remained constant is our vision to create an inclusive campus culture where students, faculty and staff are engaged in enabling, supporting, and celebrating student success. Partnerships and collaboration with the campus community are key in our ability to attain our vision and achieve success in our initiatives.

We engage with our entire student population, intentionally, proactively, and meaningfully. From developing learning strategies to facilitating study abroad experiences, we are transforming the Waterloo student experience through meaningful supports, programming, and services.

There were many notable achievements in 2020-2021; the Year at a Glance highlights just some of our collective efforts.

Welcomed 9,000+ Waterloo Warriors through virtual orientation.
Led 19,000+ international student interactions through 15+ programs and services.
Engaged 40,000 + followers on UWaterlooLife social media channels
Launched the SSO and AccessAbility Services Anti-Racism Initiatives (SAARI).

The Student Success Office (SSO) has achieved many successes in enhancing the student experience at the University of Waterloo, and Covid-19 tested our abilities and challenged us like never before.

Our campus community has pulled together admirably to continue delivering extraordinary support for our students in the face of the pandemic. Staff and faculty have worked tirelessly in uncertain circumstances to support our students and continue to offer a fulfilling university experience.

A tremendous amount of work took place prior to Covid-19 to build programs, services and partnerships that position us for success. This foundation has been key in our ability to respond to the pandemic and continue supporting our students during their time at Waterloo.

Welcoming students to Waterloo

Two students in black and white raising their arms in the air.
Two students in black and white raising their arms in the air.
5,850+incoming students participated in Waterloo Ready
2,000+incoming students attended Live Chats
81%of students were satisfied with Waterloo Ready
67%of all incoming students accessed their peer community in Microsoft Teams

Welcoming students to Waterloo

A critical role of the SSO is welcoming our new students to the Waterloo community every fall. In 2020, for the first time, we welcomed Warriors to campus with Waterloo Ready, a virtual program for our students introducing them to their community, resources and insider tips to navigate their first year.

Over 9,000 new undergraduate students joined our university from near and far, making their first connections online.

Supporting our international students

A black icon image of an airplane flying through a globe.
A black icon image of an airplane flying through a globe.
18,000+immigration consulting appointments
1,100+students supported with the International Student Arrival Plan
1,000+travel check-ins via UWaterloo Portal
1,200+information session attendees

Supporting our international students

The SSO champions the international student experience at Waterloo. This year challenged us to put an even bigger spotlight on the needs of our international student community as they endured a challenging transition from their home to Canada or learning remotely from across the world during a worldwide crisis. We developed new programming and compiled resources to welcome students to Canada, adjust to a new culture and prepare for university – during a pandemic.

International students make up 22% of the undergraduate population and 40% of the graduate population. To ensure their safe arrival in Waterloo, the SSO, Campus Wellness, and UW Conference Services worked together to create the International Student Arrival Plan.

Adapting to change

A black linear icon of an open text book.
A black linear icon of an open text book.
12,350+students & 85 instructors supported with in-class learning resources
8,000+views of the Learning Online resource page
600+Pen-demic Pals
715+IPC community members

Adapting to change

The rapid change to an online environment required significant collaboration with our campus partners. We partnered with the faculties, the Keep Learning Team and many other units on campus to ensure students, advisors, and instructors had access to important resources. Tutoring, workshops, 1-1 peer success coaching and Warrior Virtual study hall were developed for online access, in addition to the enhanced Learning Online resource page.

Programming pivoted from in-person to virtual and our teams responded quickly, turning Breakfast Seminars into online discussions, UWinterloo into “Pen-demic Pals”, and the International Peer Community (IPC) into an online peer-to-peer community.

Making connections

A black linear icon of two chat bubbles.
A black linear icon of two chat bubbles.
6,000+registrants in the Student Leadership Program
30workshops + 8 customs workshops in student development
685+courses in Tutor Connect
190+Peer Mentors connected with incoming students

Making connections

Creating relationships and joining a network of students, contributes to a sense of belonging for our students while at Waterloo. The past year created obstacles for making connections that would have happened through in-person social and academic opportunities in a pre-pandemic world.

The SSO made getting involved accessible for our student community, finding ways to open communication and support through peer communities, one on one interactions and academic supports.

Committing to change

An image of the world in black and white.
An image of the world in black and white.

Committing to change

In 2020, amid a global dialogue surrounding horrific events like George Floyd’s murder, and conversations around anti-racism and the Black Lives Matter movements, the SSO and AccessAbility Services Anti-Racist Initiatives (SAARI) was formed to support an anti-racist culture change across the units. Working groups have started to support the work and senior leaders are meeting weekly with those who have lived experience and expertise to ensure this work continues. SAARI members have solicited feedback and shared their plans with UWaterloo’s Equity Office and Indigenous Initiatives Office, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, and have started the work to affect positive change within the SSO and AAS from baseline education and communications to programming and services.

SAARI is aligning with those across the University, including the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART) in addressing racism in our work. We are committed to using the framework and guiding principles developed by SAARI to support equity-deserving groups on campus. We will share and amplify the learnings and messages as the taskforce continues to expand them.

Achieving excellence

A linear icon in black of a leaf sitting top of a textbook.
A linear icon in black of a leaf sitting top of a textbook.

Achieving excellence

We focus on delivering exceptional programs and services. In partnership with campus colleagues, we proudly received these grants and awards, recognizing the research, dedication and hardwork that goes into supporting our students' success.

Universities Canada grant for Outbound Student Mobility Program Innovation fund Partnership: AccessAbility Services
eCampus Virtual Learning Strategy Grant: Critical Information for STEM studentsPartnerships: Library, Faculty of Engineering, Office of Academic Integrity, and partner institutions
eCampus Virtual Learning Strategy Grant: Academic Integrity for Undergraduate STEM students Partnerships: Office of Academic Integrity, Library, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Mathematics, Faculty of Science, and partner institutions
eCampus Ontario grant to develop modules in Advancing Intercultural Competence for Global LearnersPartnership: Waterloo International, Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, Co-operative Education, Renison University College, University of Calgary, Centre for Extended Learning
Learning Innovation & Teaching Enhancement (LITE) Seed GrantPartnership: Faculty of Arts/Renison University College

THE YEAR AT A GLANCE

There is no question that 2020/21 was a year of challenge, change, and opportunity. The pandemic reaffirmed and strengthened our belief in the critical role that the SSO plays in the success of our students and highlighted the importance of connections, engagement and support.

The relationships built between the SSO and campus partners are key in driving our success and supporting our students’ needs. We have worked together with shared goals to navigate an extraordinary year with determination and unwavering commitment.

As we look to the post-pandemic future, the SSO will continue to adapt and demonstrate resilience while exploring new opportunities to enrich the student experience, advance student success, and promote a safe, caring, and inclusive environment.

We are proud to be a silver level green office and have chosen to protect our trees by offering this digital publication of the Student Success Office’s Year at a Glance.

Year at a Glance 2019-2020