Urban Planning Administrative Coordinator Christine Rhine doesn’t just meet the needs of the students she encounters in her position, she works hard to anticipate their needs as well. Her work is instrumental in guiding students to the program, and her work earned her the Ball State University Graduate School’s Exemplary Recruiting Award.
“I was shocked when I realized Dr. [Carolyn] Kapinus was talking about me!” Rhine said, thinking back to the award ceremony when Kapinus, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, read aloud the nomination. “I hadn’t suspected a thing when Dr. [Eric] Kelly asked me to accompany him to the presentations.”
To stay a step ahead, Rhine uses her empathy and understanding for students, putting together materials that address potential questions and objections before they become obstacles to a student entering the program.
“I noticed early on that many people don’t know what urban planners do, so I put together a PDF of stories about some of our graduates. This gives incoming students a chance to picture themselves in a variety of planning-related careers and helps them determine if it’s the right degree for them,” Rhine said. “I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like to live on the other side of the world and be applying to attend school here. I have so much respect for students who make such a commitment, so I really try to think ahead to what they need and how I can help.”
Ensuring a knowledge and understanding of what the Urban Planning program has to offer was not the only way Rhine connected with prospective students. Her creativity and willingness to step outside of the box prompted the creation of a new process of writing open letters to newcomers. The letters present a friendly face to newly enrolled students and answer some of their questions from a current student’s point of view.
And others in the program take notice of her Rhine’s efforts. Lohren Ray Deeg, an associate professor of Urban Planning said Rhine prints the word “Welcome” in students’ native languages to hang on the door, visits students who are sick and helps international students feel a sense of community.
“Christine makes every student feel welcome to the department, exhaustively,” said Lohren Ray Deeg, associate professor of Urban Planning. “Christine is the epitomé of hospitality, service and care to our student body, and not only serves the department with distinction, but is a living testament of what service is. Our student and recent alumni agree that Christine’s heart is what makes the Department of Urban Planning a special place in theirs.”
Rhine’s background in news reporting, empathetic nature, and strategic communication techniques create an enjoyable and memorable experience for how prospective students remember and feel about not only the program, but the university culture as well.
“A couple of years ago I met several urban planning students at a Graduate School event who indicated that Christine was instrumental in their decision to attend Ball State University,” Kapinus said. “Christine demonstrates the importance of the work administrative coordinators do in furthering the mission of our university.”
Although Christine admits that “taking care with every email communication to address each person by name is very helpful in setting the tone” when communicating with prospective students, she didn’t realize until the award how much the small things she does in her job everyday impact students.
“Who knew that adding an exclamation point here and a smiley face there could make a notable difference for students looking for support within the university climate?”
This post was written by Ciara Johnson, a second-year graduate student at the Center for Emerging Media Design and Development and a former graduate assistant at the Graduate School.