Five Years of The Idea Center

Reported by Cara Vincent

<NEWBERG> On Wednesday, March 6 the IDEA Center at George Fox University (GFU) had a five-year anniversary party. Most of the attendees were current and former employees of the IDEA Center.  Five years ago, the IDEA Center was formed in March by combining the academic planning and career services offices under Student Life.

            Career and Academic Planning Coach Kaitlyn Ragan has been working at the IDEA Center for four years.

            “It is hard to remember all that is different” Ragan said. The center feels like they are now fully part of the institution of GFU.

            “Goals have been realized and students and departments understand who we are. We have moved out of growing pains.” Ragan explained.

            Wendy Flint, the IDEA Center Director, spoke during the event. She shared that current Vice President for Student Life, Brad Lau, had the vision for a center that combined both academic and career planning. Bill Burrow, the current Dean of Student Services, implemented many of the details that lead to the formation of the IDEA Center office. 

            She also shared many of the accomplishments of the department.

             “We are one of few career centers in the nation that have truly integrated academic and career planning” and “have created a translational, not just transactional experience” Flint said.

            The IDEA Center works to equip students for success academically and in the job market. They do this through CAP Coaches who advise students in both academic scheduling and job-searching. CAP Coach Sidney Tafflinger is the only one original employee of the IDEA Center who still works in the office.

            Many of the attendees communicated that the IDEA Center is a unique model that other colleges are attempting to adopt.

            “We’ve blazed a new trail when it comes to student academic and career integration” said Joe Thouvenel. Thouvenel works as the IDEA Center Assistant Director and Career and Internship Coach.

            “We have helped career and academic planning become something every student can take part in and see their academics and career as a cohesive journey” he continued. Over 4,000 academic and career planning appointments have been made within the last five years.

            The IDEA Centers moto of “Bridging College to Career” is attracting the attention of other schools. Both Pacific University and the University of Oregon visited the IDEA center this week to look for a model and inspiration to combine their own academic and career planning services.

            The IDEA Center is now known at GFU, but not all students may realize the unique opportunity they get by engaging with the department.

Jessica DaughertyComment