Connectivity of Student Support and Retention programs to be enhanced
Connectivity of Student Support and Retention programs to be enhancedDecember 07, 2007Peter Englotptenglot@syr.edu
Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina has announced that the programs of the Division of Student Support and Retention (SSR) are being realigned to connect them more closely with other areas of Academic Affairs in order to solidify their underpinnings and enhance their programming.
Under the realignment, the School of Education will oversee current SSR programs whose emphasis is building and supporting pipelines from K-12 education through undergraduate study. The Graduate School will direct programs whose emphasis is on the pipeline to graduate study and the professoriate. University College will include as part of its overall offerings the pre-college and undergraduate programs that take place in the summer. Associate Provost for Academic Programs Sandra Hurd will oversee the Office of Disability Services and the Tutoring & Study Center. No immediate changes are planned for the staffing of these programs or for the ways in which student participants interact with them.
Beyond the enhanced synergy that will be created between academic units and these highly successful student support programs, Spina points out that a central motive for the realignment is to permit Associate Vice President Horace Smith to dedicate increasing time to developing SU’s already wide-ranging, deep and rapidly growing relationship with the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) through the Partnership for Better Education (PBE). “Under Horace’s leadership, PBE has become one of SU’s centerpiece programs that engage the community, as well as a model of how a university can partner with an urban school district to reform K-12 education while advancing educational research,” Spina says. “We anticipate growth in all dimensions of the partnership in the coming months and years, so it is crucial that we create the right circumstances to nurture our crucial relationship with the SCSD and the innovative programs we’ve been developing jointly with them.”
Smith will continue to serve as associate vice president and will provide close support to the provost and the Office of Academic Affairs as a chief strategist in the development of programs and processes to promote the success of students of color and students from all socio-economic levels. Smith will also become executive director of PBE, which will join the School of Education. There, Dean Douglas Biklen will spearhead the partnership with Smith to advance its development and coordinate the involvement of other academic units, including The College of Arts and Sciences, the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Whitman School of Management and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Other SSR programs that will join the School of Education include Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Student Supportive Services (SSS). The new proximity of these programs to the school’s academic programs is expected to result in strengthened foundations and services, in particular through new relationships with the departments of reading and language arts, teaching and leadership, counseling, cultural foundations of education and instructional design, and development and evaluation, as well as higher education. Spina sees benefits for faculty, staff and students in this arrangement: “The two-way exchange between faculty in these programs and the staff in the student support programs will enhance the effectiveness of both our academic and support programs, a true win-win for our students.”
The realignment plan will bring SSR programs whose goals entail preparation for graduate school and faculty careers under the auspices of the Graduate School. This includes the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), the McNair Scholars Program, the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the Research Experience for Undergraduate programs. “We believe that this clustering of graduate preparation and support programs will enhance their focus and provide more purposeful connections to faculty and to the research enterprise,” Spina says.
Administrative responsibility for Summer College, SummerStart and the Student SUccess Initiative (SSUI) will move to University College (UC), where they will be associated with other longstanding and successful summer programs through a revitalized administrative support unit, Summer at Syracuse. UC Dean Bea Gonzalez eagerly anticipates the possibilities for collaboration across programs. “It just makes so much sense to affiliate these programs with each other because they share so much in common logistically,” she says. “We’re going to be able to leverage the resident expertise in both the SSR and UC programs to elevate these already-strong programs to higher levels.”
Spina notes that while the new structure will be largely invisible to students at first, they will reap benefits in the mid-to-long term. “Most importantly, the students will see the same faces and receive the same services as this realignment occurs,” he says. “As time goes on, they’ll gain from new connections and deeper integration with academic programs, both directly and through their counselors and mentors.”