September 29, 2011

Saluki Cares student assistance enters third year

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Saluki Cares, a University-wide care and support system at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, recently began its third year helping students reach their academic and personal goals and handle the challenges they encounter along the way.

Launched in 2009, Saluki Cares offers assistance to students in a variety of ways, giving them the answers and help they need on campus or beyond.  The University created Saluki Cares to give students and their families answers and assistance in a prompt, coordinated way and to help students with issues and during crises situations.  More than 150 students received assistance in the first semester alone and over the course of the first two years, 526 students benefitted from Saluki Cares.

“Saluki Cares, a first stop referral spot, continues to be a vital part of our campus community.  The purpose of Saluki Cares is simple-- to help our students!  Students, their families, faculty and staff utilize Saluki Cares as a resource and have been very complimentary of the assistance/referrals they have received,” said Katherine L. Sermersheim, associate dean of students for Student Life and Intercultural Relations and chair of Saluki Cares.

The Saluki Cares program connects undergraduate and graduate students to the numerous resources in place to help them deal with virtually any issue they may face.  Homesickness, loneliness or other adjustment issues, physical or mental health concerns, financial worries, academic anxieties and off-campus housing disputes are among the many situations for which students have received help.  Likewise, Saluki Cares has assisted students with situations including accidents, death and grief struggles, victim/survivor issues and other challenges that cause student stress and distress, Sermersheim said.

Although freshmen utilize the program at the highest level, students of all ages have found help through Saluki Cares.  The program also has a limited budget to provide financial assistance including tuition waivers, book stipends and even transportation funds for emergencies and crisis situations.

Faculty and staff from all over campus are part of the Saluki Cares team.  Volunteers who interact regularly with the students come from Academic Affairs/faculty, Student Life and Intercultural Relations/Dean of Students, Financial Aid, Saluki First Year/University College, Student Health Services, International Programs and Services, Campus Ministries, New Student Programs, Career Services, Public Safety/campus police, Learning Support Services, University Housing and Alumni Services.

“I am very proud of the work of the team.  The dedication and commitment to student success shown by the members is admirable and the appreciation displayed by the students and their families has been gratifying,” Sermersheim said.

Essentially, there are a number of ways Saluki Cares gets involved with students.  Faculty, staff, parents, other students or even a student himself or herself can make a referral to Saluki Cares.  To make a referral to Saluki Cares visit the website at, call 618/453-5714 or email

The Saluki Cares team will contact referred students and offer to connect them with the multitude of resources available to them.  The process is confidential.

Saluki Cares is evidence of the care and concern the University has for students and their families as important parts of the campus community, Sermersheim said.  She noted that the response from students and their families has been very positive and as a result of Saluki Cares, the University is home to is happier Salukis and has an improved student retention rate for “at risk” students.