Today for Staff Spotlight we’re sitting down with Dr. Michael Oliver, Associate Dean of Student Support Services, to learn a little more about this far-reaching department.
Schoolcraft College: Hello, Dr. Oliver! Student Support Services seems like a very broad topic, so I’m guessing that means you and your team are involved with quite a few elements of student life. Please tell us a little about your department, what you do and how you help.
Dr. Oliver: Sure, thank you for asking. There are four departments under the Student Support Services umbrella: Disability Support Services (DSS), Counseling Support, Hinkle Center and Career Services. So, for students with disabilities, they would register with the DSS office to receive academic-related accommodations. Our counseling support service provides students with immediate help and up to two or three counseling sessions for those who are struggling with mental/emotional issues. If more sessions are necessary, our counselors provide a referral to a therapist for extended care.
The Hinkle Center is an inclusive environment that provides advocacy and resources for the campus and surrounding community, helping to assist women and men in experiencing an empowered life through its programs and resources. Finally, Career Services provides on-campus student employment as well as career-related workshops and events. They also provide access to an on-line job board called College Central. Access to the College Central can be made available by contacting Career Services (see contact information at the end of the article).
SC: Please tell us a little about your education, your career at Schoolcraft College and how you came to be Associate Dean of Student Support Services.
Dr. Oliver: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, Masters’ in Community/Agency Counseling and a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology. All three degrees are from Wayne State University. I joined Schoolcraft in 2009 as the Student Athlete Support Services Coordinator, which is a position designed to help support student-athletes academically so they are able to remain eligible to play their sport, and, more important, reach their educational goals. I then transitioned to the Associate Dean of Student Support Services when that position opened up, which was about six years ago.
SC: How is your team providing support during the coronavirus pandemic and maintaining that personal touch?
Dr. Oliver: Certainly working with students face-to-face is preferred as it really does provide that personal touch. However, as we all know, that method has been compromised by COVID-19. So, we have been able to pivot and provide remote services, using the Zoom platform and phone for consultations and meetings with students. Under the circumstances, things have worked out fairly well. Moving into the fall semester, if face to face is needed, then we will accommodate those students following the safety protocols put in place by the College.
SC: What’s been your team’s biggest challenge the past few months?
Dr. Oliver: There have been many challenges, as there have been for everyone. I think the biggest challenge for us was to ensure that there was not any disruption in service to our students. And fortunately, we have been able to accomplish that.
SC: What is one thing you want students to know about Student Support Services?
Dr. Oliver: That we are here for them. We know that alongside a student’s academic pursuits, there are life events that manifest in ways that are unexpected. When that happens, students can reach out to us where they can get support to help them navigate back to a place of balance.
SC: Thank you, Dr. Oliver! If students have questions or need further information, what resources are available?
Dr. Oliver: Here are the various phone numbers, emails and the website: