Constructing Success: Strategic Planning for Student Success
When Brittany Welch arrived on campus in 2018 as a first-year student, she was overwhelmed by all the new challenges in her life. More than 500 miles from her New York City family, Welch turned to the Powell Resource Center on campus for answers, receiving assistance with study and time management.
“Going from high school to college is a totally different ballgame,” she said. Today, Welch is on an education track to becoming a high school teacher.
The help and encouragement that Welch and so many other students receive each year at the College is not going unnoticed.
The decision to expand the student services at the College is being launched at a time when higher institutions realize the importance of helping students finish what they start. In an ever-changing world, higher education administrators are finding new ways to help support their students on the path to graduation.
A Vision for Success
Upon completion this spring, Emory & Henry College will raise the curtain on an expanded student success center, providing a vision for increased student success.
Mingling historic with modern, the College is currently transforming its century-old Wiley Hall Auditorium into a location for the new Paul Adrian Powell III Student Success Center, being described as a one-stop resource center.
Connecting with students through their academic journey is paramount, said Travis Proffitt ’04, dean of student success, who is overseeing and coordinating the state-of-the-art facility that is projected to be completed in early spring.
Students now will be able to receive holistic support and resources in one centralized campus location, he said.
The prominent and welcoming center will be a location where students can receive advice and support and make important connections for a successful college experience.
According to Proffitt, conversations about the expansion began a year ago when plans eventually were made to utilize Wiley auditorium for the comprehensive student center.
“Opening the new Paul Powell III Student Success Center will provide an exciting new benefit for students at Emory & Henry,” said Dr. Michael J. Puglisi, provost and executive vice president at the college.
“This is the culmination of a long-standing plan to provide a one-stop success center in which students can access a variety of services in a welcoming environment to help them navigate their path through the challenges they encounter in their college years,” Puglisi said.
“The staff will be there to provide specific support services, lend a helpful ear or assist students in networking to others on campus who can address their needs,” Proffit said.
“We all are here for the success of our students, and this new center will represent a visible step in that commitment.”
Early on, Wiley Auditorium became the logical location for expression of the Center, Proffitt said, since the auditorium recently has taken a back seat to the McGlothlin Center for the Arts where most performances are now held.
The Center will provide a centralized location for first-year and pre-major academic advisors, academic success coaches, tutoring and supplemental instruction services, disability support services, and orientation and first-year experience programming.
“First-year advising used to be centralized with all faculty. Now, we have a team of advisors who work closely with the students,” said Proffitt, who explained that the heart of the space will consist of a team of first-year academic advisors including Mary Ellis Rice and Sydni Leonard ’20.
“The auditorium is unrecognizable now,” said Proffitt, as he pointed out the new space under construction by Burwill Construction Company.
Half of the second floor in Wiley will be the Student Success Center along with classrooms and faculty offices on the other end of the hallway.
Near the entrance to the Center will be an open common area, a casual gathering space with a coffee bar where students can study, hang out with friends, or wait to meet with staff members.
Included in the space are seven offices, a classroom and a room for workshops. A staff and faculty lounge will be located in the back of the room. Personal counseling will continue to be provided in its current location adjacent to the new area.
A “New Student Experience” program coordinated by Fred George will be located in an office that is being renovated across the hall from the Center. The office will handle orientation, registration and programs for first-year students to help them get involved on campus.
This emphasis on promoting success for first-year students is all about removing barriers that keep them from embracing college life.
Proffitt outlined the reasons why a student success center will help erase those stumbling blocks.
“No matter what college a student chooses, coming to college marks a big change in the student’s life,” said Proffitt.
“They are learning to be independent adults, learning about time management, and figuring out what they want to do with their lives. They also must cope with being away from home. There’s a lot that goes on in a young person’s life when they come to college.
“An important change in our culture is making it more acceptable for college students to ask for help,” he said. “They may need to talk with a counselor or receive help with time management.”
Proffitt believes a stigma once prevented young people from reaching out for help, especially if it involved counseling.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in society now. Young people are comfortable asking for help, and we need to be responsive to that and provide those services.”
The following are services that will be provided in the Student Success Center:
New Student Experience Services
Partnering with other offices on campus, the Student Success Center will provide programmatic and administrative support for all first-year and transfer students.
The anchor of the Student Success program at Emory & Henry is the First Year Advising Experience, which will include building an individualized class schedule based on the student’s interests and intended major, helping students understand how college is different from high school on a daily basis, and ensuring that they recognize important deadlines and requirements that they must meet.
Student Success Coaching
The Student Success Center provides support for students even after they have moved on to an advisor in their chosen major, serving as a familiar location where students can go to find help with a problem or guidance in making a decision.
The Academic Support Services currently provided by the Powell Resource Center are important components of the Student Success Center. The Center will continue to provide peer tutors and supplemental instructors as well as academic strategies and skills development instruction for any students who seek this help. One goal is to offer workshops in a lyceum model, concentrating on time management, study skills, note taking and stress management. Another is to offer study halls and arrange for structured tutoring.
The College welcomes students with all types of disabilities and collaborates with colleagues across the campus to ensure that all students are able to fully benefit from their experience at Emory & Henry. Disability Support Services staff work with students in determining the most reasonable and appropriate accommodations to facilitate their path to success in college and beyond.
Personal Counseling Services at Emory & Henry College are available to help students manage the routine changes that take place in their lives as well as more difficult challenges that may have deeper roots. Many students experience anxiety in the personal transitions that occur during the formative college years and in the new experiences that they encounter. These services will remain in the more private space where it is currently located.