Campus leaders unveil University Studies program

David Moon, senior associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, outlines a new program designed to improve student retention at a March 18 forum.
David Moon, senior associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, outlines a new program designed to improve student retention at a March 18 forum.

About one-third of next fall’s UCCS freshman class will have a different first-semester experience from their predecessors.

During a March 18 campus forum, UCCS leaders unveiled a new program for students who have not decided on a major, have low academic index scores or are pre-business, pre-nursing, pre-business majors.

Called University Studies, the program delivers on what Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak calls a “high-standard high scaffold” approach where students are assisted in reaching the university’s high academic standards. The program’s goal is to improve retention of students between freshman and sophomore years and to put students on path to graduation.

“We, obviously, are good at undergraduate education,” Mary Coussons-Read, vice chancellor, Academic Affairs said. “But we have the opportunity to get better, providing a complete experience for undergraduate students and supporting them academically, socially and personally by helping them figure out who they want to be and helping them launch.”

David Moon, senior associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, Academic Affairs, provided an overview of the new program which will be housed within the College of Letters Arts and Sciences. Students who meet specific criteria will be enrolled in University Studies where they will take specific courses designed to help them find academic and personal strengths.

Using what Moon called active advising and directed academic support, UCCS hopes to increase the retention of students at rates equal or superior to campuses similar to UCCS. As examples of tactics, Moon cited having University Studies students participate in specific classes and attend mandatory advising and success coaching sessions.

Brad Bayer, executive director, Student Life and Leadership, talks about the connection between student activities and academic success at a March 18 campus forum.
Brad Bayer, executive director, Student Life and Leadership, talks about the connection between student activities and academic success at a March 18 campus forum.

Moon also talked about increased efforts to make UCCS more attractive to transfer students more than 23 years old who are seeking convenient, affordable, high-quality education. Creating new academic programs that combine online, weekend and evening courses will make UCCS more competitive in a crowded market.

Greg Hoye, director, University Wide Marketing, provided an overview of increased marketing of UCCS flexible course options. A mix of digital, email, direct mail messages and focused campus visits are cornerstones of the plan.

Brad Bayer, executive director, Student Life and Leadership, provided an overview of the links between students who are involved in activities such as a student clubs and events and academic success. In general, students who participate in both clubs and student events have a half-point higher grade point average than students who do not.

For more information about the University Studies program, contact Moon, 255-3566, cmoon@uccs.edu, Constance Staley, professor, Department of Communication, 255-4123, cstaley@uccs.edu or Barbara Gaddis, executive director, Student Retention and First Year Experience, 255-3688, bgaddis@uccs.edu.

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