Winter 2016

Fit for the World Program

Honoree:
Seton Hill University

While many colleges and universities have rolled out career readiness programs to help graduates make the leap to professional employment, Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania has taken the extra step of embedding career prep into its academic program.

Fit for the World, a four-year career readiness program, blends personalized career prep work within a liberal arts education, says Renée Starek, director of Seton Hill’s career and professional development center.

Educational Success Program

Honoree:
Northwood University

Admitting one needs a summer bridge program to ease the transition from high school to college is not typically a point of pride.

Vira I. Heinz (VIH) Program for Women in Global Leadership

Honoree:
University of Pittsburgh

Philanthropist Vira I. Heinz, the first female board member of a multinational corporation and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Pittsburgh, recognized “the transformational impact of international travel,” says Sarah Wagner, director of the women’s leadership program at the university that’s named after Heinz.

Open Campus

Honoree:
Bossier Parish Community College

“Global reach” is not typically a phrase associated with two-year schools, but with YouTube viewership in 182 countries, Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana is enjoying the kind of exposure campus officials at many institutions can only dream of.

Backpack to Briefcase

Honoree:
Moravian College

For many people, college is a stepping stone to life in the real world, but Moravian College in Pennsylvania heard from its students that they wanted to be even more prepared at graduation. So the college’s Center for Career and Civic Engagement developed Backpack to Briefcase to better prepare juniors and seniors for post-graduation life.

Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) Program

Honoree:
State University of New York at Geneseo

As part of the college experience, most students gain leadership, teamwork and personal skills—and these are characteristics among the most-prized by prospective employers. Thomas Matthews, associate dean of leadership and service at SUNY Geneseo, saw the common ground and in 2000 developed a leadership program to formalize and track the skill-building.

Ichabod Success Institute

Honoree:
Washburn University

Two years—not a few weeks during the summer prior to freshman year; not their first semester. Two years.

Unlike many bridge programs, the Ichabod Success Institute (ISI) at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, supports first-generation, low-socioeconomic-status students from their first few pre-college days through their sophomore year.

Money Smart Forum

Honoree:
Westchester Community College

Most colleges now have student financial literacy programs. But with funding from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and one-on-one sessions with financial coaches, Westchester Community College in New York takes the approach a step further—since officials there know that students’ fiscal concerns can harm academic performance.

Summer 2016

Vital and Expanded Technologies Initiative

Honoree:
California State University, San Bernardino

When the California State system allowed its schools to levy additional fees to fund student success initiatives, leaders at Cal State, San Bernardino went in a novel direction: They set up a venture capital program.

The Vital and Expanded Technologies Initiative—or, VETI—is one of four programs the university launched with the additional revenue. VETI provides competitive grants to colleges and departments to fund technology projects that directly enhance student learning and success.

Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program

Honoree:
Cleveland State University

A college’s outreach to prospective students can seem generic. But special populations require special attention, which is why Cleveland State University’s Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program customizes information sessions and engaged learning experiences for high school students aging out of foster care.

REBOUND Program

Honoree:
Middle Tennessee State University

Federal regulations prevent Middle Tennessee State University from notifying parents when their kids are having academic trouble.

The regulations say nothing about writing to the students themselves, which the university does in hopes of catching a parent’s eye and sparking a conversation.

“It’s a strategic move to send the letter,” says Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for student success. “Hopefully it creates a moment where the parents and the student can have dialogue about the student’s progress.”

Academic Probation Recovery Program

Honoree:
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students on academic probation not only graduated at lower rates, they were visiting their advisers—the very people who could help them right the ship—less often than their peers did.

The university hit on an innovative way to reverse those trends. Starting two years ago, the university began issuing Academic Recovery Plans for students on academic probation.

Students who don’t meet the plan’s requirements—which include meeting with academic recovery coaches—are prohibited from registering for classes the following year.

MyTransferCredit App

Honoree:
Franklin University

A need for speed drove development of the MyTransferCredit program at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

“One of the main things that students want to know upfront is how many of their credits will transfer,” says Scott Booth, executive director for marketing and enrollment. Until a couple of years ago, it could take as many as 20 days during peak enrollment periods to answer this question.

First Year Retention and Student Transition (FYRST) Program

Honoree:
Indiana University Southeast

Oreo cookies and calzones have taught us that the middle is the most important part. The same goes for first-year student percentiles, say leaders at Indiana University Southeast.

“We needed to boost our first-year student interventions,” Jason Meriwether, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs, says thinking back to 2013. Student enrollment and retention figures had incrementally declined.

Mock Interview Week

Honoree:
LDS Business College

What would you do if you were told you didn’t interview well? You would probably try to figure out what, exactly, you could do to make a better impression in order to nail the next interview.

That is exactly what happened with students at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City.

Professionals serving on academic advisory boards told the college’s career services department that students were not presenting themselves and their many accomplishments in the best light.

App Factory

Honoree:
University of Wisconsin–Parkside

You know your new multidisciplinary internship program is going to be a hit when, early on, a graduating intern posts his résumé on Monster.com and lands a job right away— followed by weeks of hounding by rabid recruiters. He had to change his phone number to get the calls to stop.

What made him such a hot commodity? His experience at the App Factory, a year-round paid internship program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Captains Anchored for Success: A Universitywide Retention Program Enhanced by Technology

Honoree:
Christopher Newport University

Jeannine Leger, director of academic support services at Christopher Newport in Newport News, Virginia, has a concise description of who has a vested interest in college students’ success: “Everybody at the institution.”

That mindset helps to explain the breadth of departments contributing to the university’s decade-long retention program, Captains Anchored for Success.

Spring 2016

Bridge Scholars Program

Honoree:
Colorado College

Emily Chan, a social psychologist who studies how prejudice affects academic achievement, brings a research-based approach to supporting the students from underrepresented backgrounds who participate in Colorado College’s Bridge Scholars Program.

Chan, an associate dean for academic programs and strategic initiatives at the Colorado Springs institution, cites 15 years of studies that illustrate the importance of integrating such students into the full collegiate environment.

Operation Degree Completion

Honoree:
University of Central Oklahoma

They called every number they had. They sent email and snail mail. They reached out on Facebook and LinkedIn.

In short, University of Central Oklahoma’s Operation Degree Completion staff used every means of communication at their disposal to track down tens of thousands of former students.

They were searching for two groups: those who had left Central just shy of their bachelor’s degrees, whom they would assist in finally graduating; and those with credits that could be used to complete associate’s degree requirements at community colleges they had attended.

Comfort Dog Program

Honoree:
Concordia University Wisconsin

One of the most popular public figures on the Concordia University Wisconsin campus isn’t a student or long-time faculty member, but rather a celebrity of the canine variety. 

Zoey, a golden retriever, stars in Concordia’s two-year-old Comfort Dog Program, which offers stress reduction, emotional relief and improved well-being to students, faculty and staff. “Zoey provides what amounts to a canine version of a deep breath,” says Dave Enters, director of counseling services and head of the program.

Tulane Success Coaching

Honoree:
Tulane University

Typically, when students hear they have been recommended for an academic support program it is viewed as punitive. Their attitude toward participating is shaped by the sense that they have done something wrong.

For that reason, previous efforts at Tulane University to assist students with academic challenges “proved to be difficult and ineffective,” says Michele Oelking, director of the Academic Success Center. Still, the need for a program to aid students in achieving academic, personal and career goals—particularly students with ADHD—was evident.

Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program

Honoree:
National University

With as many as 24 percent of National University’s students having served in the military, officials saw a need to support the transition to civilian life and college.

So the San Diego-based institution created the Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program in 2012 to help members of the military earn their degree.

Academic support was the greatest need reported by the university’s military students. Approximately 300 veterans per term find themselves on academic probation (GPA below 2.0) or at risk of being placed on probation (GPA between 2.0 and 2.25).

Personalized Achievement Contract Program

Honoree:
Mercy College

Because so many of the students at Mercy College are the first in their family to reach higher education, they aren’t likely to have a home-based support system to help them navigate some of the basics of attending college.

“They can’t go to mom or dad or Uncle Bill and say, ‘How did you pick a major?’ or ‘How did you decide what you wanted to go into as a career?’ ” says Catherine Cioffi, director of public relations at the Hispanic-serving institution, located in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Peak Performance Mathematics Bridge Program

Honoree:
Northern Arizona University

The introduction in 2010 of a math placement test for incoming Northern Arizona University students revealed that many of them needed remedial courses. Between 2009 and 2011, the number of students enrolled in developmental math programs nearly doubled, from 300 to 650.

Like most universities, Northern Arizona had previously relied on SAT and ACT test scores for math placement. However, new research increasingly indicates the SAT is not as indicative of math readiness as previously thought, says Mary Fulé, coordinator of mathematics and statistics.

Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes

Honoree:
Louisiana State University

That an NCAA Division I school provides its student-athletes with academic support services is hardly news. What differentiates Louisiana State University’s efforts is that its support encompasses more than just academics.

LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes comprises both an academic affairs division and a student affairs division. The goal is to support student-athletes in their studies as well as in financial literacy, health and wellness, dealing with the media, and other areas.

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