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Student Success Professionals Attend One-Day Conference at Ursinus

This summer, Ursinus College’s Institute for Student Success (ISS) hosted 19 institutions from the Philadelphia area, New Jersey and New York for an annual meeting of student success professionals.

Following welcoming remarks from Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean Mark Schneider, Vice President for College and Community Engagement Heather Lobban-Viravong and Missy Bryant, interim dean of students and co-director of the Institute for Student Success, participants heard presentations covering a breadth of advising, retention, academic coaching and educational support topics.

This was the first time Ursinus hosted the gathering. “It was exciting to host our colleagues on campus to discuss a topic that is essential to the success of higher education,” Bryant said.

Practical advice, real world examples and an open sharing of challenges and solutions was the order of the day, which progressed with presentations from professionals from Villanova University, Penn State Lehigh Valley, Rutgers University, Saint Joseph’s University, Lehigh University and Penn State Abington.

Ursinus representatives included Nick Hanford, assistant director of ISS, Ben Minardi ’20 and Bryant.

“Speaking at the conference was an incredible experience,” Minardi said. “I was able to discuss retention analysis and how data can drive individual interventions. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to interact with other student success professionals.”

Valuable information for engaging students and faculty was shared between the participants, as well as tools for best management of data and communication tips. Of the event at Ursinus, Kim Allen-Stuck, assistant vice president of student success and educational support at Saint Joseph’s University, said, “It is so exhilarating to connect with the people at this meeting. Throughout the day I was buzzing with new ideas and initiatives.”

The first such conference happened at St. Joseph’s, a two-day event of 31 attendees, and it has grown ever since. In 2016, the format became a one-day meeting. The July 17 event at Ursinus had 57 participants.

Minardi, currently interning with Ursinus’s ISS as a data analyst, spoke of his experiences with ISS as a student and shared the results of research analysis he has compiled. Hanford spoke about the collection and use of data in tutoring assessment.

Other topics included peer advising, student retention management implementation, first- and second-year student advising, first-year student retention and software.

“The meeting was very informative and engaging for all participants,” Bryant said. “It is important that we learn from each other in doing this work.”  —By Monique Kelly