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Presented by Cassia Dean, Coordinator of Engagement and Outreach
and Dr. Carl Krieger, Director of Residential Education – April 17, 2020

Offboarding—Why is it Important?

  • The cost of keeping vs. hiring a new staff member
  • Reduces time to productivity
  • Reduces stress
  • Develops job knowledge
  • It is a best practice
  • Boomerang employees
  • Reputation matters
    • Social media
    • Positive environment for current staff
  • Future employees striving for award
  • Maybe, right now, we all need a trophy


"We talk about onboarding a lot in our jobs as professionals. We don't talk much about offboarding. And yet in many cases, it can be more important than the onboarding process, particularly with our volunteer organizations. If a staff member or a student leaves on good terms, and they feel great about the department, they are more likely to return, and they may apply for jobs here. That's always a good thing.
Our reputation matters. And that reputation shows up in social media. We garner a positive reputation when somebody posts a picture of themselves holding their plaque. Then their family members and friends comment. It creates a positive environment for our staff who see that we care about our students and them. We show that we care through recognition. Future employees then strive to receive the award."

Planning in the Works

Ideas from Other Campuses:


  • Think about things they need right now like mics, air pods, cameras, etc.
  • Branded items might be more important than ever before—branded with your organization or Purdue brand so they still connect mentally to the University.
  • Video Awards ceremonies
  • UT –Zoom Res Life Dinner with BYOPD (Bring Your Own Platted Dinner)
  • Recorded ceremonies with recorded presenters
  • Senior Boxes—boxes filled with Purdue swag sent to seniors
  • Social Media Award Announcements
Ideas from Purdue
  • Livestream Festivities
    • Virtual banquets on Facebook or Instagram Live
    • Can be recorded and sent to participants that could not attend
    • Encourage engagement through comments
  • Virtual Content
    • Social Media recognition posts
    • Videos of encouragement from staff, faculty, alumni
    • Seniors sharing videos/statements of memories and thanks
    • Reaching out to underclassman for words honoring seniors
    • Set up Zoom calls with staff and students to express thanks or honor an award
  • Mailings
    • Create publication of seniors and highlights from the year
    • Send personalized gifts, certificates, yard signs, etc.
    • Ex: Dining & Culinary sending student employees personalized Coke bottle
    • Send gifts that state “Purdue Alumni”
  • Inviting Seniors back for next year’s festivities
    • Ex: Orchestra students invited to play their ensembles at the fall concert
  • Encourage Involvement
    • Virtual challenges
    • Seek feedback on what would make them feel special at this time
    • Purdue Alumni Portal Mentorship opportunities

Social Media in General


Think how you can utilize social media and share across different platforms. Maybe an organization that you work with is doing something or wants to recognize someone. That could be shared many places or in other Purdue platforms. Think how widespread you can make your post.
We've reached out to people to create videos. They can be from staff, faculty or alumni. So students hear from other people. The videos can feature a word of encouragement or thanks and can reach beyond just select students in your area to a more general audience. Also reach out to students to see if they would be willing to share anything—a senior sharing videos or statements of their memories. Or saying thanks to people who impacted their time at Purdue.

Also, reach out to underclassmen for words honoring the upperclassmen. If you have underclassmen who are close to some of your seniors, see if  they would creat a video that they could share on their own social media platforms, as well.

Set up WebEx calls with your staff and students. Even if it's just like a quick hello, just to check in on how they're doing. If there's a particular award winner in your area, instead of just emailing them and telling them they won, set up a call where their family can get involved. These  videos have been heartwarming and exciting to see, as well.

General Mailings


At this time, who wouldn't be excited to get something in the mail? We have people creating different publications to go out to seniors, or that might honor them in some way, or highlight events that occurred during the year. Send any type of personalized gift. The more we can get Purdue's name out there, the better. Purdue Dining & Culinary are sending all their senior students personalized Coca-Cola bottles. Having it personalized makes it more special.

For our graduating seniors, anything that says “Purdue Alumni” is a good gift. They might have a lot of Purdue items in their closets, but they probably don't yet have Purdue alumni items.

A couple of units in our division have invited seniors back for next year's festivities. Bands and Orchestras, for example, invited students to perform in a concert next fall. So if an event is hard to do virtually, get seniors involved by inviting them to return. Knowing that they will have the opportunity to still participate, might be very special to them.

Early on, rather than coming up with what we thought was the best way that students wanted to be honored, we reached out to students for feedback on what they thought would make them feel special during this time.

A quick plug for the Purdue Alumni Association Portal: There are some excellent mentorship opportunities on our Purdue Alumni portal. This could be a time to get students involved. They create a profile then have opportunities to connect with undergraduates or alumni.

Peers Supporting Peers

Question #1: How are you asking your students about what they want for offboarding? What are their responses?

Helping International Students
UR Global Purdue University wanted to highlight international student stories so started a video challenge. It began with the president of the club, who talked about her experience in UR Global in the past four years. She gave a 45-second speech and then challenged another leader to create a video and talk about their experiences with the club and what they got from that experience. So far, we have four videos. Everything has being captured on the UR Global Facebook page.

Women in Science Program
Women in in Science challenged seniors to submit a photo and a third-person paragraph or two about themselves, about their time within the program, and about their future. They posted their stories on the Women in Science Facebook and Instagram pages each day.

University Residence (UR) Guest Relations
UR has a staff of about 70 students, on a yearly basis, that run the tour programs. Every year a student driven offboarding initiative takes place that will continue this year remotely. During the end-of-year gathering, UR gives thank-you cards to all of their seniors. On the back of the card is a resume or vita line they can put on a resume or curriculum vitae they create when seeking a job. It was a student-driven initiative that has been done for a few years and will continue this year.

Question #2: What specific things are you doing to offboard students?

University Residences is sending, via U.S. Mail, all graduating seniors, either living in residence halls or working with them, a cookie tin with two homemade chocolate chip cookies from the dining courts, as well as the recipe. The tin will be stamped with branding of the UR Alumni Guest Center.

Housing Room Nameplate Tradition
The gold nameplates on doors of resident hall rooms honor students who have graduated while living in that room. The nameplate bears their name, graduation year, and program they were in. The tradition is now centralized through the alumni and guest center. The marketing team is sending out an email to all graduating seniors who qualify or have requested a nameplate. The emails also includes a video message of encouragement and hope.An alumni database has been created with the list of nameplates. An alum or a family member of an alum can visit our guest center and ask to see their name plate.

Question #3: How can departments with no budget, still honor their seniors?


Utilize social media or programming that can be posted or shared to highlight and honor students. With the idea of sending cookies with the recipe—the recipe itself wouldn't necessarily cost anything to share. What a special thing that would be for students to have as a keepsake because you could make those chocolate chip cookies for the rest of your life if you wanted to.

Write a personal, handwritten note on a card.
For example, write how you have seen the student grow during their time at Purdue or with your organization. Write down areas where you think the student will excel as they move on in life. Make it heart felt. A handwritten note that says more than just “congratulations” can be a meaningful gift to receive.

The Purdue alumni and alumni of University Residences who have been part of the Executive-In-Residence program over the past five years are putting together messages of hope, encouragement, well wishes and good luck. They're also offering to connect with students on LinkedIn. Connecting with alumni is an exciting idea for seniors.

Question #4: Is there a way you would like to bid farewell to this semester?

"If I had all the resources in the world, I would send my students a reflection letter. I would ask their faculty members, RA, orientation leader, TA, organization president—anybody who was involved with them—send a card noting what they appreciate about every student who worked with me. I would put it in an envelope and send a note myself. Those little reflection moments allow students to pause and not think about their current state of isolation. Instead, they can reflect upon what they did before the quarantine, and the experiences that they had through the majority of this semester."

Align Programs with Steps to Leaps

  1. Identify programs you already do that align with a Steps to Leaps pillar.
  2. Submit those programs at
  3. Begin to use the Steps to Leaps language, definitions, and branding.
  4. Invite a Steps to Leaps representative to your staff or student meeting by emailing
  5. Attend Steps to Leaps events, including additional Lunch and Learns!


To join the conversation and learn more,
use the hashtag #PurdueStepstoLeaps on social channels:

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