Emerson Uncommon ceremony celebrates game winners

by Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff • November 12, 2014

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Kelly Bates, executive director of the Elma Lewis Center, and Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Lab, attended the event.
Kelly Bates, executive director of the Elma Lewis Center, and Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Lab, attended the event.

Faculty, staff, and students joined members of the Emerson Engagement Lab on Thursday in the Beard Room to review the results of the online game Emerson Uncommon.

The civic engagement game, which invited the community to compete in Emerson-related challenges and answer questions about the college, attracted 974 players, 563 of whom were considered “active” by the Engagement Lab, meaning they completed at least one question.

According to Emerson’s website, 8,292 comments were provided by Emerson faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Their input, which covered a wide array of issues on campus, is currently being reviewed by college officials.

President M. Lee Pelton spoke first, praising how the game has helped administrators hear directly from the community. He was followed by Kelly Bates, executive director of the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research; Anthony Pinder, assistant vice president for internationalization and global engagement; Sylvia Spears, vice president for diversity and inclusion; and Michaele Whelan, the chief academic officer. 

Donna Heiland, Emerson’s vice president and special assistant to the president, originally reached out to the Engagement Lab to help form Emerson UnCommon. She said Thursday’s ceremony was a great way for students and staff to connect with college administration.

“It gave players a chance to hear from college leaders about how they plan to use the data from the game, and also to take a first look at the data themselves,” she wrote in an email to the Beacon.

Players that participated in Emerson UnCommon were able to vote for causes which aimed to advance the College’s strategic planning process. The three winning causes were recognized at the event. 

Therapy Dogs for Finals, created by the Iwasaki Library and Emerson Disability Services; the Student Immigration Movement, created by the Elma Lewis Center; and the Interactive Online History of Emerson, created by the Iwasaki Library, all received $1,000 towards their implementation.

The top five players of the game were also announced at the ceremony. Cate Hirschbiel, coordinator of outreach and reference librarian, won first place; Instructional Technologist and Emerson alumnus Christopher Connors and Creative Instructional Designer Natalie Hebshie tied for second; and Dennis Levine, network/security administrator for Information Technology and Maureen Tripp, media librarian, came in third.

In an email to the Beacon, Hirschbiel said she enjoyed reviewing students’ comments through the game.

“Even though I work with students every day, I’m not always sure what they’re thinking,” Hirschbiel wrote.

Hirschbiel said she was most excited about her cause, Therapy Dogs for Finals, winning the $1,000 prize, but she considers her win as top player a “personal victory,” as the Iwasaki Library and Emerson IT had formed a “friendly rivalry” during the game.

“Various groups on campus have been trying to bring therapy dogs to Emerson for years,” Hirschbiel wrote. “And this event really confirms that the students want it to happen and drums up support from the administration.”

The top player affiliations for Emerson UnCommon were Visual and Media Arts, the Iwasaki Library, and IT/Technology. Emerson Stars, or the most engaged players of Emerson UnCommon were also announced, including Robert Fleming, executive director of the Iwasaki Library; Billy Palumbo, library operations assistant; Tony Ascenso, a production and operations manager in Tufte; Lindsay Daly, a senior visual and media arts major; and Tulasi Srinivas, associate professor and director of faculty development.