By Jeff Murphy, October 3, 2018
WARRENSBURG, MO – Since opening in September, the Success Advising Center (SAC) has played an integral role in the University of Central Missouri’s efforts to help
put students on the right path in reaching the degree finish line. Members of the
campus and local community have an opportunity to learn more about this new facility
and its goals during the grand opening at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 in the Elliott
“This is an excellent opportunity to visit the Success Advising Center and meet staff members who are helping UCM to take a centralized and holistic approach to ensuring students get the information and assistance they need at the right time to help them succeed in their college education,” said Mike Godard, interim provost-chief learning officer. “This is particularly important as we strive to meet our university retention goals.”
Activities planned during the event include a ribbon cutting and remarks by university leaders, tours led by success coaches at the facility, displays, refreshments and an opportunity to network with SAC staff.
The Success Advising Center is located on the lower level of the Elliott Student Union in space previously designated for the University Store, which is now located in The Crossing – South at Holden. Renovation of the interior space by Reasbeck Construction, Warrensburg, took place during the summer 2018 after approval by the Board of Governors. The facility includes staff offices, private rooms where students can meet with success coaches, and self-service stations where students can utilize a computer, if needed.
According to Karen Goos, interim vice provost for enrollment management, the one-stop SAC is designed to make it easier for students to navigate through the education process by having a dedicated team of professionals who are available to answer a wide range of questions. This initiative has included the transfer of all academic success advisors from various college offices throughout campus to this highly visible central location. These individuals are not only well informed about curriculum and paths students can take to earn a degree, but each also has undergone professional development training to expand the breadth of their knowledge in a wide variety of areas that enable them to better serve students.
Longtime UCM member, Ken Schuller serves as the Director of Success Advising. In this role, he oversees the success advising team that includes three senior advisors and 21 academic success advisors, all part of a team that includes three national award winners in the academic advising field. Each of these advisors are assigned students by majors within the new school structure. One career counselor specializes in the Open Options Program and assists with athletic-specific eligibility needs at the SAC.
“I believe this new model for student success at UCM takes advising to a whole new level in one quantum leap,” Schueller said. “By creating one team with a singular focus on student success, all students benefit by having a common core experience, the UCM way.”
Goos said the Success Advising Center is beneficial to all students in that it meets them “where they are” in their education so assistance is provided according to need. She pointed out, for example, that a first-time freshman likely needs more assistance than an upper-class student. When students reach their senior year, they begin working with faculty mentors who help them navigate through the remaining year of their baccalaureate degree. This makes it possible to reduce each advisor’s caseload and devote the most attention to students who need services the most.
The university’s goal is to retain up to 80 percent of its students who will go on to complete a degree. Schueller previously conducted a pilot study that showed positive results through a model that relies on frequent and early engagement with students. The SAC employs this model, which enables advisors to truly get to know and engage with students in a way that facilitates their success.
“By expanding the advising vision holistically, students benefit by knowing they have their personal success advisor who is their go-to person on all things student success, and a clearly defined success team that includes a peer (success coach) and additional experts in the area of financial and career services,” he said. “By shifting to a proactive equity model of advising, students will benefit by having a high-touch component early in their college career, meeting each student where they’re at, with the focus on their individual needs, when they need them, and transitioning them to be more independent learners along the way.”
Goos said the SAC is designed to remove the fear factor among students who may be apprehensive about seeking help. This includes many first-generation students, who make up about 50 percent of the university’s student population, and are the first in their families to blaze the education trail.
“If you are a student and you have a question, all you have to do is walk into the Union to the Success Advising Center, ask your question, and those fully trained success advisors are going to be able to help you navigate and persist through your college experience,” she said.
To learn more about the Success Advising Center, email email@example.com or call 660-543-4721.