Spring 2016

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.

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.

Winter 2015

The College Experience

Honoree:
St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College initiated The College Experience in 2012 to increase the percentage of students completing core, or gateway, courses.

A review of the Florida college’s records at that time revealed that only two-thirds of students earned a grade or C or better in those classes.

And among African-American and Latino males, the percentage was even lower, says Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services.

Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Honoree:
Excelsior College

An internal assessment of writing in 2012 found students at Excelsior College struggling—just like many of their peers across the nation.

Recognizing the importance of writing to professional success, leaders at the college in Albany, New York, created a resource to help students improve their skills.

The Online Writing Lab, built using responsive design in an open source environment, was made available to students 24/7, at no cost.

Unconquered Scholars Program

Honoree:
Florida State University

There’s underserved, and then there’s underserved.

Foster kids. The homeless. Wards of the state. Young people as deserving of a college education as anyone, but victims of circumstances not of their making.

Florida State University in Tallahassee gives this often forgotten population a chance. In addition to offering a pathway to college, the Unconquered Scholars Program provides students with guidance, mentoring, advocacy and a voice. Along with considerable academic support, the program prepares students to live independently—perhaps for the first time in their life.

LIFE (Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment)

Honoree:
NorthWest Arkansas Community College

An influx of Hispanic residents over the last decade has created an opportunity for NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

Recognizing that a significant percentage of Hispanic students from outside the area had little experience with higher education—including what it is like, how to apply or even that it was an option for them—the college in 2012 developed a program to introduce high school students to the basics.

Peer Jacks Mentoring Program

Honoree:
Northern Arizona University

Located about two hours north of Phoenix, Northern Arizona University is far enough away to allow local students a sense of independence.

But it’s still close enough for those from the Phoenix-area to go home on weekends and holidays, says Evin Deschamps, interim director of student success initiatives.

Local students are also more likely than the school’s out-of-state students—who now account for 40 percent of enrollment—to arrive with friends and support networks established in high school.

Student Development Outcomes for Student Employees

Honoree:
University of Minnesota Twin Cities

More than two-thirds of college students work during their academic career, says Denny Olsen, senior associate director of Student Unions and Activities at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

More than 5,000 students work on the Minneapolis campus, including 250 in Olsen’s department.

When officials created a list of seven student development outcomes more than 10 years ago, Olsen’s department spotted an opportunity. Students would be offered additional experiences and teachings they would aspire to master during on-campus work assignments.

Navigation Advising

Honoree:
State Fair Community College

Advising at State Fair Community College in Missouri begins not just when students enroll, but before they even apply.

State Fair sends staffers from its Navigation Advising program to high schools to discuss how to be a college student. These visits aren’t about recruitment, but a chance to explain the college application process, financial aid and advising, among other topics.

Insight App

Honoree:
University of San Diego

For most high schoolers, it’s mom or dad nagging them to get to school on time, keep track of assignments and meet assignment deadlines.

For University of San Diego students, it’s their phone that keeps them focused.

Administrators saw an opportunity in the overwhelming prevalence of mobile devices on campus to help students become independent.

“We wanted to create something to help empower students to understand and help them with their daily lives,” says Avi Badwal, senior director of enterprise technologies.

3-Tiered Model of Advising

Honoree:
Miami Dade College

You can imagine the reaction when Miami Dade College, with its enrollment of 165,000, expanded its academic advising load to incoming students still in high school. That meant staff would need to advise an additional 14,000 students.

“I still remember one of the very first conversations with the student affairs deans,” says Lenore Rodicio, provost for academic and student affairs. “I thought we were going to need to do some emergency treatment on some of them.”

Academic Recovery Program

Honoree:
Southeast Technical Institute

The idea was this: Require students who have lost “good standing” status—due to academic hiccups or financial troubles—to pay for a two-credit course needed to regain that standing.

But it did not elicit the negative reactions anticipated by officials at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I expected to have a line at my door of students upset with me for making them take this course and wanting out,” says Tracy Noldner, vice president of student affairs. “I also thought I was going to have parents calling me upset.”

Dual Degree Program

Honoree:
Governors State University

Elaine Maimon doesn’t mince words when she hears her fellow four-year university presidents complain about the quality of community college students who transfer to their school.

“Universities have not done anything to inspire students to have a coherent experience at the community colleges,” says Maimon, who heads up Governors State University in Illinois. “We at the universities have a responsibility to partner with the community colleges to make sure the students have the best possible chance of having a coherent, quality experience throughout their four years.”

Chart the Course

Honoree:
Georgian Court University

Earning 30 college credits in the first year is the best indicator of whether a student will earn a degree, administrators at Georgian Court University in New Jersey had learned.

So they were concerned to discover that just over one-third of first-time freshmen in the fall of 2013 had earned 30 credits by the start of their second year.

“We have a good number of freshmen taking remedial courses within their 15-hour course load, which don’t count toward their 15 credits,” says Kathleen Boody, dean of student success.

Exploration Plan

Honoree:
Kent State University

When a 2009 data review revealed that undecided, or “exploratory,” students were less likely to graduate from Kent State University than those entering with a declared major, leaders looked into why—and what they could do to improve retention.

One step was requiring all students to enroll in a degree-granting program by the time they had received 45 credit hours.

To that end, leaders at the Ohio university formed a committee to further develop and refine the process exploratory students followed to find a major.

49er Finish

Honoree:
UNC Charlotte

Many university retention programs focus on first- and second-year undergrads. But UNC Charlotte has generated $400,000 in additional annual revenue by going off campus to bring back “stopouts” who left in their senior year without getting a degree.

The 49er Finish Program targets those with more than 90 credit hours, at least a 2.0 GPA, and no judicial or financial holds on their account.

UMass Lowell 2020

Honoree:
University of Massachusetts Lowell

“When you first come from high school to a large university, it’s overwhelming. You can feel disconnected,” says John Ting, vice provost for enrollment at UMass Lowell.

That disconnected feeling seemed to partially explain the university’s discovery in 2007 that its retention and graduation rates for first-year undergraduate students were below national averages.

Internship Program

Honoree:
Endicott College

Internships have been a hallmark of the Endicott College experience ever since 1939, when the school, located 20 miles north of Boston, was founded by leaders who believed in a philosophy of “learning by doing.”

Today, students are required to complete three internships: two 120-hour experiences during the January or summer semester of their freshman and sophomore years plus a full-semester internship during the fall of their senior year.

WellsLink Leadership Program

Honoree:
Syracuse University

Syracuse University in New York has always had a number of state- and federally funded support programs that help students of color bridge the gap between high school and college, says Huey Hsiao, associate director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The Higher Education Opportunity Program and Student Support Services, for example, offer academic support to underprepared students, who demonstrate potential to succeed in college.

Summer 2015

Actionable Intelligence

Honoree:
Valdosta State University

When the governor says his goal is to graduate 250,000 more students by 2020 and that your university needs to play a major role, any higher ed leader would sit up and take notice. As part of the statewide Complete College Georgia program, Valdosta State University committed to improving its own retention rate, which was 66 percent in 2011.

Passport to Success

Honoree:
Culver-Stockton College

Despite a number of initiatives to improve retention rates at Culver-Stockton College, the Missouri school found itself underperforming in comparison to other institutions. Administrators, recognizing the need to try something new, focused specifically on freshman-to-sophomore retention.

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