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Strengthening Institutions Project

Project Title: Achieving Student Success: Academic and Social Supports for Improving Retention and Completion

The U.S. Department of Education Strengthening Institutions (SIP) Grant is made possible under the Title III program. The SIP helps eligible institutions become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.  

Overall Project Goal:

Increase student success, retention and completion by front-loading academic and social supports for first year and at-risk students.


  1. Strengthen academic advising and educational support services to facilitate student success in achieving educational goals for at-risk students.
  2. Establish integrative and comprehensive onboarding and first year experience programs.


  1. Increase the retention rate of first generation, low income students, and underrepresented minorities from
  2. Increase the number of first generation and low income, and underrepresented minorities who successfully complete their program of study
  3. Increase the number of first time freshman in good standing
  4. Increase the fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time, full-time students
  5. Increase the number of students successfully completing college level coursework within two years after enrolling into developmental coursework
  6. Increase the number of students who successfully complete Math and English gatekeeper courses
  7. Decrease the number of gateway courses with a DFW rate of 30% .


I. Strengthen Academic Advising and Educational Support

The following interventions has been identified to support the overall goal of increasing student retention and success for UCM's at-risk populations:

1. Design consistent developmental advising case management model

2. Develop a summer bridge opportunity

3. Experiential Learning

4. Academic year programming to enhance student learning 


II. Establish Integrative and Comprehensive Onboarding and First-Year Experience Programs

The following interventions have been incorporated into the design of the First Year Experience programs:

1. Assessment of personal strengths, interests, and learning styles

2. Peer mentoring

3. Redesign of the first year seminar

4. Scaling of co-requisite models for developmental English and math

5. Academic supports for essential college level courses across freshman-level Arts and Humanities/Social Sciences, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and other required genderal education courses

Develop. Pilot. Evaluate. Modify. Scale.

Completed Projects

Mental Health First Aid Training

Dr. Ashley Gage and Ms. Juanice M. Williams, Assistant Professors of Social Work, facilitated a workshop on Mental Health First Aid for our Success Advisors and other key campus partners on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Participants engaged in interactive activities on a variety of mental health and substance abuse issues that impact college students. 

Central Summer Academy

13 incoming college freshman participated in a 4-week summer bridge program. Students earned 7 college credits, stayed on campus, engaged in academic support services, and participated in a variety of social and cultural events on and off campus. Students who were selected to participate in the Central Summer Academy wereable to participate at no out-of-pocket costs to them. 

Advising Case Management

Dr. Kathleen Shea Smith, NACADA Consultant, facilitated a 2-day workshop for our Academic Advisors and other key campus partners on May 13-14, 2019. Participants engaged in in-depth training on Academic Life Coaching, Advising Case Management, and Developmental Advising. 

Peer Mentoring

25 Peer Mentors and key advising staff became certified peer educators by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Peer mentors will be assigned to one University Foundations or General Education course and work closely with faculty members to help support students who are enrolled in these classes. 

Embedded Tutoring

 Embedded Tutors will work to support co-requisite math and English courses. These students will work closely with faculty members to help support students who are enrolled in these classes. 

External Program Evaluation

Thomas P. Miller & Associates is a proven consulting service that has years of experience with clients focused in higher education. The UCM Title III external evaluator will visit the UCM campus twice a year, for three days each visit, plus 1 travel day, to ensure that UCM is successfully progressing with proposed activities and the data and evaluation of activities is accurate. The evaluator will also assist UCM by reviewing and providing feedback on deliverables for this project.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates has proposed a four-part evaluation process that will aid in strengthening UCM’s Title III Programs:

          1. The Preliminary Evaluation Procedures

          2. The Implementation Evaluation

          3. The Outcomes Evaluation

          4. Reporting Webinars

Freshman Seminar

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) work group, composed of 15 faculty and staff from all four colleges and the Success Advising Center,  have completed the course redesign of UNIV 1400: University Foundations. This redesign includes: drafting SLOs, constructing a course syllabus and schedule, and creating an online repository of weekly assignments and activities. The work group, along with other University faculty and staff, are scheduled to pilot 25 sections of this redesigned course for fall 2019. 

Ongoing Projects

Active Learning Classrooms

SIP Personnel have met with each of the four colleges on our campus to begin selecting classrooms that will be turned into ALEC spaces.
We have also partnered with the Center for Teaching and Learning to utilize the Educause evaluation system to determine best practices as it relates to implementing ALEC on our campus. We are now in the procurement phase of the project with implementation in the fall and/or spring semesters.

Corequisite Math and English

6 math faculty, administrators, and advisors participated in a two-day workshop on implementing corequisite
math courses in Aurora, CO on May 21-22, 2019.
Students will enroll in newly-designed Intermediate Algebra and Basic Statistic co-requisite courses in fall 2019.


Freshman Seminar

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) work group, composed of 15 faculty and staff from all four colleges and the Success Advising Center,  have commited to attend regularly-scheduled "brown bags" to discuss best practices and course assessment over the course of the fall semester.  

First Year Diagnostic

We are in the process of selecting our Student Success Diagnostic system. This system will be implemented in fall 2019.

Advising Professional Development - NASPA

 SIP Personnel are currently working with SAC staff to discuss this professional development opportunity.

Academic Success Workshops

 SIP Personnel and SAC leadership are currently discussing this academic support model in preparation for fall 2019. 





Lover Chancler, Ph.D.
Title III Project Manager/Director of The Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity
Union 3rd Floor
Tel: (660) 543-8049


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