It’s been nearly three years since the Recruitment and Retention Project team was established, and over that time a number of student-focused initiatives have been put in motion. To date, there have been 13 projects delivered or in the process of being delivered.
Responding to the needs recommended by student associations, units on campus, as well as many learner focus groups, this collaborative team has provided a rich environment of ideas to be acted upon in the pursuit of serving learners, helping create a real sense of community and support on campus that aligns with President Dr. Mike Mahon’s vision of a destination university.
“The RRP team’s energy, dedication and commitment in guiding and delivering these innovative projects focused on the recruitment and retention of our students is outstanding,” says University Provost and Vice President (Academic), Dr. Andrew Hakin.
As the University opens the Fall 2013 Semester, four more projects are moving forward, all examples of the co-operative effort that has been a hallmark of the RRP mission:
• The introduction of an online graduate application process under the leadership of Alice Miller (Admissions) has put to rest a timely, labour-intensive paper application system and help streamline the manner in which students apply for graduate school.
• Predictive Modeling, under the leadership of Mandy Moser (Institutional Analysis) for early intervention with an applicant to enrolment model, as well as a student retention model to aid Faculties and campus services to direct their future actions with greater efficiency and effectiveness, thereby increasing the likelihood of student success.
• The business case and analysis for new housing led to the opening of Mt. Blakiston House this fall, the newest campus residence building, directly targeted at retaining learners into their second year and beyond, all the while freeing up additional rooms for first-year learners.
• With the guidance of James Graham (New Media), the innovative online virtual campus environment created by the RAVE project will be introduced this fall, allowing users to virtually visit campus in a 3D environment. It allows peopl to get a look at all of the University’s facilities and services, granting users a sense of the campus community available to them.
“The entire Recruitment and Retention project has been very collaborative from the beginning,” says Heather Mirau, director Integrated Planning. “The RRP team and the University community have all been fantastic, and the spirit I’ve encountered while working on these projects has been fabulous. It’s the students who benefit from this work, and that has been the goal of this project from day one.”
Mirau credits the success of the Recruitment and Retention Project due to the strong support from students, faculty and staff, and senior leaders. Much change has taken place in just a few years with nine initiatives piloted (four more are in the process of being delivered), which is testament to the broad support the project has received.
“I look at the Game Day Shirt project under the leadership of Trevor Flexhaug that grew out of work from the Enhancing Community & School Spirit subject matter team,” says Mirau. “The project team thought a great way to enhance Pronghorn pride on campus would be to encourage faculty, staff and students to wear Game Day Shirts on the day of Pronghorn Athletics games. It started small and now we have a number of campus units requesting shirts so that they too can take part.”
While some of the projects are focused on pride building, others are academically focused, such as the introduction of the Liberal Education 2850 course. Described as “Mapping Self, Career, Campus, Community”, the course was introduced as a pilot for the Spring 2013 semester and went over extremely well with students. Designed to help students with the transition to university life, it provides an active learning component focussing on the U of L’s student resources, including those that are imperative in supporting student success from their first semester through to graduation.
“It was very encouraging to see the positive comments students had for the LBED 2850 class,” says project team leader, Dan Kazakoff (Management). “It was evident that many students appreciated the exposure to the value of our liberal education foundation and the many support services that are at the University of Lethbridge to help them reach their goals. The key in the future will be to learn from the pilot class and expand the number of first-year students exposed to such an endeavour. A big thank you to Dr. Jan Newberry who taught the pilot class.”
The reworking of the Writing Centre within the Academic Writing Program provides students with a wider base of support within a multi-disciplinary approach.
“The greater level of support and expertise now enables writing skills and methods to be targeted to the various disciplines and needs of students,” says Dr. Cliff Lobe, coordinator of the Academic Writing Program.
The academic support project led by Dr. Heidi MacDonald (History) provided further emphasis on tutoring and learning strategists. This project resulted in several professors piloting the very successful visit from campus service professionals to their classes and the establishment of the 24-hour Collaborative Learning Centre (W650).
Other initiatives established through the Recruitment and Retention Project include the Learning Circles pilot project under the leadership of Dr. Craig Milner, the introduction of a Campus Information Services outlet, a campus service web page design, a services for students web page providing one online location for student support connections, and a Fun With Math program created through the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science with leadership from Dr. Hadi Kharaghani. Other project proposals have received approval for delivery over the next year.
“There’s been a real emphasis on talking to our learners and finding out what supports they need to be successful,” says Mirau. “We are trying to give them every opportunity to find that success. It starts with getting them engaged with our community the day they walk through the front door and then reinforcing those supports as they work their way through to graduation.”
For a look at the RRP team and for more on the project, visit www.uleth.ca/recruitment-retention.