WILBERFORCE — Central State University will participate in a statewide effort to increase college completion rates for historically underserved student populations. As part of the University’s focus on completion and retention, it has also created an Undergraduate Student Success Center.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education was one of four entities in the country selected to receive a $2.1 million grant from Strong Start to Finish. The organization aims to significantly increase the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who succeed in college math and English and who enter a program of study in their first year of college.
“Our overarching goals are to put all students on a path to a successful future and to ensure that our businesses have the skilled workers they need to succeed,” ODHE Chancellor John Carey said. “This grant will go a long way in pursuit of those goals while supporting students as they begin their postsecondary journey.”
As part of the application process, ODHE reached out to the presidents of 13 of Ohio’s public universities and the state’s 23 community colleges to determine their interest in participating in the grant opportunity. In order to participate, colleges and universities had to agree to develop institutional goals, including specific goals to reduce equity gaps; assemble a campus leadership team; outline the campus’ initiatives related to Strong Start to Finish goals; and develop goals for increasing the percentage of students completing their gateway math and English courses and entering a program of study in their first year.
“We have already examined how we teach math and English and how to link resources to support that,” Central State University President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond said. “(This effort is to try) to help freshmen students get through the gateway classes.”
Central State recently created an Undergraduate Student Success Center after expanding resources to focus more heavily on retention. The center, formerly University College, focuses on holistic student development. The overarching goal of the USSC is to provide academic and social support services to aid the University in increasing its student success rates, said Dr. Gene Moore, Jr., executive director.
The Student Success Center added the Office of Retention and three Retention Specialists, who focus on academic persistence, bolstering retention rates and degree completion. The three units housed in the Undergraduate Student Success Center also changed names to remain aligned with the mission of this critical unit.
The Office of Academic Advising and Assistance is now the Office of Academic Coaching and Advising (OACA) and has added coaching as a key component; The Learning Skills Center has become The Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS); and The Office of First Year Experience has become the Office of Retention;
The efforts support the University’s Compelling Priority No. 4, which is Higher Retention Rate.