Hundreds of IUPUI faculty, staff, administrators and students learned about the value of a smile, an expression of gratitude and kindness, at seminar luncheons that were part of a project funded by the Welcoming Campus Initiative.
The last of the luncheons this academic year took place April 25 at the Campus Center. The luncheons were free and open to faculty, staff, administrators and students.
The Welcoming Campus Initiative provides internal grants of up to $25,000, with a match by the proposing unit, to support implementation of projects related to these overarching themes:
- Communicating who we are.
- Creating a vibrant and inclusive student experience.
- Designing an accessible, inspiring urban campus.
- Engaging and integrating with the community.
- Investing in faculty and staff.
Titled "The Habits of Hospitable People," the luncheon seminars were led by Godwin Charles Ogbeide, an associate professor in the Department of Tourism, Conventions and Event Management in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management and director of the Events and Tourism Institute.
With his research focus on leadership strategy and the science of hospitality, he explores physiological changes that occur in people as the result of hospitable actions. Ogbeide is particularly aware of the importance of actions that make the campus welcoming.
During the luncheon, Ogbeide shared scientific findings about the physiological impact of hospitable actions and discussed verbal and nonverbal hospitality communications.
Those hospitable habits include acknowledgement, friendliness, gratitude, empathy and kindness, Ogbeide said.
Acknowledgement can occur in several ways, including with a smile and eye contact, he said: "When you see me smile, don't you already feel comfortable and welcomed?"
When acknowledgement occurs, the reaction is, "I can talk to this person," Ogbeide said.
"How often do we show gratitude to one another, to our guests, to visitors and students?" he said. "If you thank a student or visitor for coming to IUPUI, the culture changes. Word of mouth will be good. People will say, 'They're nice at that university, and I want my son or daughter to go there.'"
Designed to help make IUPUI a welcoming campus, the luncheon seminars themselves were welcomed. Participant evaluations included these statements:
- "This was a great opportunity to remind us of the importance of our verbal and nonverbal body language and the impact it might have on our customers."
- "I am a friendly person at heart, but this made me more aware and mindful of being hospitable to all."
- "I appreciated the presenter's enthusiasm and knowledge in this area. It was very motivating and educational!”
- "The event inspired me to think about how creating hospitable environments can improve the experiences of a given situation. It increased my awareness."
- "I especially appreciated that this is based on science. I tended to look at hospitality as a role played in certain professions, but I see now that it is much more of a genuine mindset than a role."
The other part of the project that was approved by the Welcoming Campus Initiative was to develop IUPUI Welcome-365, a user-friendly mobile app to enhance orientation at IUPUI and navigation of campus as well as generate a welcoming feeling.
With the app, students have the campus in the palm of their hand, Ogbeide said. Its features include an interactive campus map that can guide students to buildings and parking; a university calendar and personal calendar; and access to IUPUI academic, financial and health resources.
The app removes challenges of not knowing where buildings are located or how or who to ask for help, Ogbeide said. "IUPUI is a large campus, but we can make this big place the size of their phone."