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In an era when prospective students and their parents can learn about hundreds of schools from the comfort of their homes, the in-person campus tour offers a golden opportunity to tip the scales in your favor. But too often, these tours follow the same staid formulas.

Models of Excellence honorees from five colleges and universities were recognized at the program’s inaugural awards ceremony during NACUBO. Pictured (left to right) are Mandy Eppley, Eastern Kentucky University; Daniel Kinnaman, UB; Andy Clark, Valdosta State University; Anna Jensen, Indiana University; Bill Thrisk, Marist College; Shane Burgess, The University of Arizona; Jeff Ratje, The University of Arizona; and Andrew Crawford, Higher One. (Photo: Erika Chambers Photography)

Recognizing colleges and universities that make student success a priority through innovative initiatives is the purpose of UB’s new Models of Excellence award program.

To honor recipient schools from the first two rounds of the program, a celebratory dinner was hosted by the program’s sponsor, Higher One, during NACUBO’s annual meeting in Nashville in July. The event was held at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where the conference was located.

On campus to walk: Graduates of Southern New Hampshire University’s online College for America program are invited to participate in the graduation ceremonies at the institution’s Manchester campus.

After years of quiet evolution, the competency-based education movement is now poised for explosive growth, with several hundred colleges and universities developing programs that fundamentally redefine the college degree.

Fans at a University of New Haven football game might notice an odd sideline sight: medical personnel with their heads hunched over smartphones. But these athletic trainers are not checking text messages or updating their Facebook status. Rather, they are monitoring real-time data about the force of their players’ on-field collisions.

Source: “Self-Reported Concussion among NCAA Student-Athletes,” NCAA, February 2014 (Click to enlarge)

Wrestling, ice hockey and football have the highest concussion rates among men's sports. Ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse top the list for women.

Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities—it’s the expectation.

Today’s progressive student success initiatives start even before first semester classes convene. The colleges and universities honored in the second round of UB’s national Models of Excellence awards program have found that easing students’ transition from high school to higher ed increases the likelihood they will remain enrolled and graduate.

Salisbury University alum Carey Haddock, here in front of Manokin Hall, was once an RA herself. Now she’s the trainer and supervisor for RAs at the school.

Parents and students expect RAs to solve roommate problems and ensure dorms are conducive to study and sleep. But with an amplified national discourse on sexual assault, gun violence and mental illness, today’s resident assistants are on the front lines of a whole host of issues related to safety and overall wellness.

Today's RAs receive enhanced training on a range of issues, from sex assault to homesickness. (Click to enlarge)

Even if an incident doesn’t happen in a residence hall, RAs must know what to expect during a potential crisis on campus, and how to better help their students, says David L. Perry, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Just as campus officials across the nation are engaged in active shooter response training because of tragedies like at Virginia Tech, RAs need to master the proper response procedures, including building lockdowns. They might be the only authority figures in the residence halls during a potential threat.

The setting: AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, a 230-acre Spanish Revival resort. The conversation: technological innovation and leadership as well as institutional and student success, with UBTech’s attendees learning management insights, getting technology updates and networking with each other.

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