CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

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Standard 6: Students  


Description

Reflecting our mission as a comprehensive public university dedicated to serving the needs of Connecticut citizens, CCSU consistently enrolls over 90% (93.7% in 2007) of its students from Connecticut. Approximately 80% (82.7% in 2007) of CCSU’s students commute from an off-campus location, which confirms our mission as a regional university and our commitment to provide access to higher education for students in central Connecticut. About 40% of CCSU students are first-generation college students. CCSU’s mission of serving the needs of Connecticut students is also reflected in the gender and racial composition of our student body: we enroll male and female students in roughly equal numbers (52.5% female/47.5% male in 2007), and minorities represent approximately 15% (16% in 2007) of our student body. Also integral to CCSU’s mission is the commitment to provide opportunities for continuing education and lifelong learning: approximately one third (32.4% in 2007) of CCSU’s students are enrolled part-time.

Admissions

CCSU’s program of admission is designed to ensure equal access to education and complies judiciously with all legislative requirements to provide equal educational opportunity. The University’s commitment to equal educational opportunity is explicitly integrated into our admission policy, which states that admission to CCSU depends on the academic credentials presented by the applicant and prohibits any form of discrimination, as described in the Affirmative Action Policy. CCSU’s admission and retention policies and procedures are clearly stated on the University’s Web site, in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs, and on all of our application materials.

In keeping with CCSU’s commitment to provide access to higher education for students with a range of abilities, interests, and backgrounds, the University’s standards for admission set reasonable expectations for incoming students to ensure that a preponderance of admitted students have the qualifications to complete a college-level program of study. In fall 2006, the University accepted 60% of its full-time freshman applicants, of which 40% enrolled, with an average SAT combined score of 1027. Comparable data are not available for graduate admissions.

The University offers several programs that provide access and support to students with identified academic needs. These include the Phoenix Program, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), and ConnCAS (Connecticut College Access and Success)—all of which are designed to improve the academic skills of recruited undergraduate students who show promise but do not meet all regular admission standards. Students in the ConnCas and EOP programs are mainstreamed into the larger student body each fall semester after completion of a five-week summer educational experience. Full-time staff chart the progress of these students and then employ early intervention strategies to aid in their success.

Students who disclose a learning, physical or psychological disability receive reasonable accom-modations and support services through the Office of Student Disability Services.  In addition, recruited and admitted student athletes who fall below regular admissions standards participate in a prescribed support program through the Academic Center for Student Athletes to promote academic success.

 All programs for students with identified needs administer their own budgets—with both internal and external funding—and have dedicated staffs. The aim of all of our programs for students with identified needs is to provide them with the support that will enable them to have successful academic experiences as mainstream members of CCSU’s student body.

SAT scores are utilized to determine placement in the first mathematics and writing courses for incoming first-year students. Accuplacer is utilized to determine course placement in mathematics and composition for transfer students who do not have transfer credit for English and mathematics coursework.   Students identified with deficiencies in math and writing are enrolled in developmental coursework in their first semester.   Additionally, both graduate and undergraduate international students who apply for admission must demonstrate their proficiency in English.

 

Retention and Graduation

CCSU’s retention statistics demonstrate that the institution admits students who can be successful. Over the past five years, the first-to-second-year retention rate has averaged 77%, with a low of 74% in 2001 and a high of 80% in 2005. The retention rate for transfer students has been slightly higher from the first to second year. The first-to-third-year retention rate for the general student population has also been high, averaging 64% over the past five years.  

First-to-second-year retention rates for African Americans have ranged from a low of 71% to a high of 88% over the past five years; these rates for Hispanic students have ranged from 73% to 82% over the past five years.

Six-year graduation rates for students reached a high of 44% in 2007, up from 40% in 2005 and 2006.

CCSU offers a wide range of accessible and effective programs and services designed to address students’ needs and to ensure their academic success. The University’s summer orientation program familiarizes undergraduate students with academic requirements and helps incoming students prepare a first-semester schedule of courses. The Learning Center and Writing Center provide tutoring to support students’ learning needs and to assist them in successfully completing assignments; the Learning Center expanded its tutoring services by offering online tutoring in 2007. The Learning Center also provides intervention programs for students experiencing academic difficulty. The Early Alert Program in the Office of Student Affairs responds to information about students’ poor academic performance or excessive absence from classes.

The First-year Experience (FYE) program assists students with their orientation to CCSU and reinforces college success skills. Faculty who teach in the FYE program engage in faculty development sessions in order to work together to support student success (Exhibit 6.1). The Registrar’s Office communicates regularly with students about their academic performance and about their progress toward completion of their degrees, reminding them of deadlines and outstanding requirements. The CAPP System on Central Pipeline enables students to monitor their own academic progress and to run “what if” scenarios for projecting course requirements. 

Specialized units such as the Africana Center and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, respectively, provide tutoring for African-American and Hispanic students. Pre-Collegiate and Access Services provide ongoing support and guidance for students with identified academic needs. The Committee on the Concerns of Women and the Women’s Center serve the needs of women on campus.

The University ensures that information about its services and programs is widely published on the web, in orientation materials, in departments and training sessions.

Retention policies and procedures are clearly stated in Academic Standards and Regulations, Grading System, Appeals for Grade Changes, Change of Status, and Academic Misconduct sections of the catalog. CCSU outlines the number of credits for each classification level, gives examples for calculating quality points and a grade point average, and defines terms such as good standing, academic warning, and dismissal hearing. The grade appeal policy describes, in detail, the student’s rights and responsibility, the faculty’s role, and the review board’s role.

 

A program for all students on academic warning is offered each semester. Students facing dismissal who commit to a plan of academic recovery may be granted an additional semester on probation.

 

The primary mission of the Retention and Graduation Council is to examine some of the specific factors related to student success and recommend initiatives to improve graduation and retention rates. In addition, academic and co-curricular units across campus examine graduation and retention data of various groups to inform decisions about their programs.

The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) tracks and reports the number of degrees and certificates awarded each year as well as institutional retention and graduation rates. This information is communicated to campus constituencies for program evaluation and improvement. OIRA also collects and disseminates graduation and retention rates for groups specifically recruited by the University. These groups include minority students, economically disadvantaged students admitted though the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), students admitted through the Phoenix Program, athletes receiving athletically based aid, and Honors students.

Student Services

CCSU identifies its student characteristics by ethnicity, gender, full-time, part-time, undergraduate, graduate (master’s and doctoral), as well as age and campus housing. Learning needs of its students are placed in the following categories: student athletes, low-income, remedial placement, first-generation, low SAT scores, disability, Fresh Start, and Honors. The University responds by offering an array of learning, wellness, psychological, and health support services to assist with adjustment issues and to promote academic success. These support services are included in student fees.

CCSU’s student services are guided by a philosophy derived from its Mission Statement, which states that “higher education should promote the personal and social growth of our students, as well as their intellectual achievement and professional competence. We provide various opportunities for students to engage in activities or to join organizations and clubs where they develop leadership and other social skills. We foster a welcoming environment in which all members of our diverse community receive encouragement, feel safe, and acquire self-confidence.”

The mission and vision for student services were recently reviewed and revised prior to the Council for the Advancement of Higher Education (CAS) self study that was undertaken in 2006/07. 

 

CCSU recently established a strategic goal for students’ co-curricular learning. The Strategic Plan Goal 1 calls for the University to “identify student learning outcomes for General Education, undergraduate majors, graduate majors and co-curricular activities; establish their integration in the curriculum; and implement outcomes based assessment for all courses, programs, and student academic support services to promote continuous improvement.” Academic Affairs and Student Affairs are charged with developing enabling activities to support the goal.

Students receive a full range of protective and investigative police services around the clock. CCSU responds effectively to incidents or issues that threaten to disrupt the learning environment by coordinating conduct referrals to counseling or alcohol and other drug education programs. Emergency management and threat assessment teams provide proactive safety intervention. A wellness team, chaired by the Director for Counseling and Wellness, meets weekly to assess non-critical, non-threatening student concerns.

The University provides safety and security services to students to ensure maximum safety precautions. Regarding safety and security, the University 1) uses expert safety consultants, 2) includes senior administration in training sessions, 3) has a threat assessment team and a notification system, 4) hires security staff and certified law enforcement officers, 5) has excellent lighting on campus, no-charge emergency with highly visible contact information posted on each phone, 6) offers escort services, 7) reviews its emergency response time, and 8) installs panic buttons in appropriate offices. Advocacy services for women are also available, and resident assistants receive safety training.

Available and responsive information resources and services for students include email, voicemail, faculty office hours, text messaging, web-based information and services, and extended business hours. Business software and hardware provide 24:7:365 access to grade information, e-billing, e-tutoring, housing assignments, policies/procedures, and the University activities calendar. Public and electronic bulletin boards allow students to post materials and notices to the campus.

CCSU uses a two-tiered advising system for undergraduate students.  The Advising Center advises non-matriculated students and students who have not yet declared a major. The Advising Center assists students in scheduling their general university requirements and in getting acquainted with the resources available to them on campus.  The Center’s staff had contacts with 13,237 students in 2006-07 (duplicated headcount), with its highest number of advisees from the School of Arts and Sciences. Students preparing to enter a professional program or the Business School may receive additional advisement from the deans of those schools. 

Once students declare an academic major, they are assigned an academic faculty advisor within that department.  Full-time instructional faculty are required to provide academic advising to students (Article 10.0).  Full-time faculty are contractually required to have five regularly scheduled office hours per week on at least three teaching days.  (Part-time faculty are asked to make reasonable efforts to advise their students as needed.)

Graduate students are assigned an advisor at the time of their acceptance to a graduate program. Information about the advisor is included in the letter of acceptance, providing the name, telephone number and e-mail address.

To evaluate this advising structure, the University regularly surveys the departmental chairs and conducts student satisfaction surveys. 

Career Services staff assist students with selecting experiential learning opportunities, participating in community service, getting involved in paid and voluntary career opportunities such as internships, cooperative education, and selecting a major. Approximately 1500 students participated in on-campus Career Fairs in 2006-07. Between spring 2004 and fall 2007, 1007 students participated in Cooperative Education Placements. The Office coordinates student employment campus-wide.

Student conduct is governed by a code developed by and for the Connecticut State University System that is subject to all federal and State laws. The code describes prohibited conduct, procedures for filing a complaint, disciplinary proceedings, pre-hearing investigation, hearing procedures, interim suspension, academic misconduct, disciplinary sanctions, and student records. The code outlines the student’s right to and grounds for an appeal along with the procedure for making an appeal. The Senior Conduct Officer conducts training sessions each semester with clubs/organizations, student government, residential staff (including student employees), and other groups requesting such training.

Health and counseling services are available to students during regular business hours. Students receive clear information about how to access services after regular business hours. Residence Life staff and police are available 24:7:365. Students can participate in individual and group counseling, get help with prevention and disease control, help with and training on sexual assault, alcohol and substance education, health and accident insurance, travel insurance, general wellness and safety information.

The Center for International Education advises and supports international students as they pursue their studies on our campus, including assisting students in processing immigration applications required to maintain legal status, providing authorization to work on and off campus, providing counseling on academic and cultural concerns and organizing orientation, cross-cultural events and workshops. The Center provides similar services for exchange students who come to CCSU for a semester or year abroad.  When CCSU students elect to study abroad the Center advises them on course selection, housing, immigration, and financial concerns. (See Exhibit 6.2.)

In all of its policies, procedures, and practices, the University is fundamentally and consistently committed to both the spirit and intent of equal opportunity, as well as to its own goals for diversity. Our Office of Diversity and Equity oversees our compliance with equal opportunity and investigates all complaints. The Faculty Senate’s Diversity Committee sponsors programs and conducts research to support a more diverse community. Through clubs, dedicated offices, and centers, the University provides safe and supportive outlets for underrepresented and nontraditional groups to interact and express themselves, including women, veterans, representatives of different cultural, religious, and ethnic groups and diverse sexual orientations, and members with disabilities. To enhance the retention and graduation of students from underrepresented populations, the University has hired a new, cabinet-level position of Chief Diversity Officer, who has been charged with promoting efforts to improve the diversity climate on campus. The President also appointed a Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity, which has presented recommendations for improving the diversity climate and enhancing services and support for minority students. The University also sponsors and supports a wide range of events and initiatives to promote diversity.
                                                                                                             

The institution supports opportunities for student leadership and participation in campus organizations and governance in the following ways: Student leadership development, campus employment, clubs, societies, and organizations. Students have over 100 clubs and organizations from which to choose, including Student Government Association, Graduate Student Association, Student Union Board of Governors, and Inter Residence Council. They also have the option to start a new club/organization. Most student leadership opportunities are voluntary and the operating budget for the organizations is supported by student fees and fundraising. Other leadership opportunities for many students include campus employment, internships, graduate assistantships, cooperative education, volunteerism, athletic and recreation participation, service learning, and community service.

Full-time and residential students have available to them a full complement of health care services. In addition to enjoying opportunities available to all students, residential students pay an inter-residence council fee that supports community-building activities among residential students. The residential community employs two student programmers who are charged with identifying and facilitating educational sessions for all residents. Each of the 68 student resident assistants is responsible for hosting 12 programs each academic year. Students may form or join social travel groups such as the band, theatre groups, talent shows, and Oxford Debates.

Students receive a copy of both the Student Handbook,  Survival Guide (6.3) and the university catalog. Both contain general information about the University, a comprehensive list of services and resources, important phone numbers, the conduct code, list of administrators, emergency information, on-campus living guide, a campus map and the alma mater. Graduate students also are given a Graduate Studies Handbook (Exhibit 6.4). The student handbooks and catalogs are also available online. In addition, information about student services is provided in the Registration Booklets (Exhibit 6.5) for fall and spring semesters; the University View Books (Exhibit 6.6) and Continuing Education Bulletins (Exhibit 6.7) also provide access information for student services.

New student orientation is open to all undergraduate students at no additional fee. During orientation, students receive verbal and written information about academic advising, housing, financial aid, health and counseling services, academic support, technology, bookstore, etc. Students also get a demonstration of how to access information on the web.

Orientation participants engage in activities that help them to develop meaningful interpersonal relationships, learn strategies for a successful transition into college (social and support services), learn rights and responsibilities, and become familiar with campus-wide safety and security.

Job descriptions for professional staff in student services are developed in accordance with the CSU-SUOAF CBA (Article 10 and Article 12) and procedures developed by the Council on Employee Relations.  The Office of Diversity and Equity and the Human Resources Department ensure that all applicants meet the minimum education and training requirements reflected in the official job description in order to be considered for employment.  Student services staff receive ongoing training and professional development relevant to their field of expertise. Funds to support professional development and training are available from departmental budgets as well as through the CSU-SUOAF contract.  Professional growth and improved competence is an integral part of the evaluation instrument for Student Services staff.

The University dedicates space to support student service policies and procedures. The Student Center includes space for student clubs and organizations, meeting rooms, retail stores, and food services. Student support services, such as admissions, financial aid, bursar, and registrar are currently in dedicated spaces.

Funding resource requests are made by managers of the specific areas who are responsible for implementing student services policies and procedures to assure that all areas are adequately funded.  If additional funding is needed, the University Planning and Budget Committee and the President review these requests in light of the university goals and objectives.


Financial Aid

All federal, state and institutional guidelines for awarding financial aid, including non-need based aid are followed. Criteria for awarding aid are transparent and publicized. Financial aid information is available in print form and electronically. The University is dedicated to reducing financial barriers that limit access and ensuring the fair and equitable awarding of financial aid to all eligible students. Awards are based on equitable application of clear and publicized criteria. The amount of financial aid awarded has more than doubled since the last NEASC visit, having increased from $26,375,820 in 1998-99 to $60,054,525 in 2007-08.

The goal of the Financial Aid Office is to facilitate a comprehensive and affordable education for students attending CCSU.  The Financial Aid Office administers federal, state, and institutional programs (including grants, scholarships, loans, employment and veteran’s benefits); a complete list of scholarships and aid programs funded by the University is available in the University catalog. The office coordinates the University's various scholarship and non-need-based grant and award programs and loans. Students may also be supported with on-campus employment. Federal Work-Study is awarded to students as part of their financial aid package. Job opportunities are listed in the Career Center. 

The Financial Aid Office conducts business in accordance with a comprehensive procedures manual maintained in the Office.  Procedures are consistent with guidelines and authority of the Connecticut State University System, guidelines suggested by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and from the National Association of University Business Officers.

 

Recreation, Intramural Sports, and Athletics

Prior to fall 2006, recreational opportunities were very limited. Within the past two years, CCSU changed the reporting line for recreation from Athletics to Student Affairs and added new resources in excess of $144,000. New resources also included two full-time professional staff. The restructured programs outgrew its new resources within the first semester. Records show that within the first semester of operation, the program served over 10,559 students.

 

Online and paper copies of handbooks outline the registration process, eligibility criteria, leadership responsibilities, sports ethics, schedules requirements, competition levels, game requirements, student code infractions and consequences, health safety and security regulations, as well as the alcohol and drug policies.  

The University audits regularly all financial records including those for student fees assigned to student government for reallocation. Recreation staff verifies participation eligibility, health clearance and accident and health insurance.

 

In addition to following university policies on academics, eligibility, financial aid, ethical conduct, recruiting, and amateurism, CCSU is certified by the NCAA. CCSU provides student insurance, safety training and supervision, participation policies and procedures, integrity policies and procedures, athletic academic support services and wellness promotion. Policies for the renewals or denial of scholarships to athletes are stated and widely publicized.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Program at Central Connecticut State University contributes positively to the personal development of approximately 400 student athletes by providing a wide range of opportunities for participation in 18 sponsored sports as a certified member of NCAA Division I and the Northeast Conference.

Student athletes are held to the same academic standards as other CCSU students. In addition, athletes in each sport must meet NCAA mandates for academic progress (APR). Student athletes receive support from the Academic Center for Student Athletes in meeting their academic goals. Six-year graduation rates for student athletes who receive aid have been consistently above the campus average, averaging 49% over the past ten years.

Student athletes also serve on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SACC), which
represents the interests of student-athletes on our campus and beyond.  Student members of SACC have input into the rules, regulations and policies that affect the lives of student-athletes at Central as well as addressing issues of national concern. Selected members of SACC represent CCSU at conference-level meetings that focus on issues broadly affecting student athletes.

Ethical Standards

Ethical Standards are primarily communicated through the CCSU Student Handbook.  The “Code of Conduct,” “Commitment to Civility” and a “Non-discriminatory” clause are some examples of Ethical Standards. When conditions require action, communication is made to students on specific topics.  For example, a year ago a letter was sent to students warning about the illegal downloading of music, and possible actions that might be taken by the record companies.  CCSU also adheres to ethical standards issued by the State of Connecticut, Board policy and professional organizations such as NASPA.

Some staff including counselors, nurses and doctors require additional licensing certifications. Staff members in confidential services must adhere to all requirements and policies set forth by their licensing boards.

Ethical Standards are shared with student leaders during training programs. Recently, students drew up a draft of a Code of Ethics to be used by student organizations. This draft is being reviewed by university administrators.

 

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Student rights and responsibilities are clearly stated in the Student Handbook and in the Graduate Student handbook, which are available both online at the CCSU website and in hard copies in the offices of Student Affairs and School of Graduate Studies, respectively.  The Student Handbook, for example, provides policy information on disability discrimination, racism and acts of intolerance, and hearings on judicial procedures. In addition, the policy on academic misconduct, passed in 2001, clearly defines expectations for students and procedures to follow.

Grievance policies and procedures are stated within the CSU Student Code of Conduct and Statement of Judicial Procedures.  The Code is made available online and in a printed publication.  The Office of Student Affairs distributes and makes these available to students, faculty and staff, both on-line and in a printed publication.

To ensure fair and consistent administration of the Code of Conduct, Student Conduct administrators and Hearing board members undergo training in student conduct matters.  This training meets the standards established by the Association of Student Judicial Affairs (ASJA), an international association for student conduct officers at colleges and universities.   Sanctioning guidelines are utilized to ensure appropriate and consistent resolutions.

Board policy outlines information to be included in a student’s permanent record, the length of time records must be maintained and how they must be maintained. Directory information is available unless students sign a non-disclosure statement in the Office of the Registrar. All inquiries for student records are protected by FERPA and are referred to the Office of the Registrar for processing. All other requests for information are handled on a case-by-case basis and must be accompanied by a signed release from the student. Health and psychological information is regulated by industry standards. Students' rights to privacy regarding disciplinary action are also protected by guidelines established and enforced by the University. Policies governing the security of student identity are monitored by a security matrix disseminated by the Connecticut State University System.

 

Appraisal

Admissions

Enrollment data show that the University is meeting its goal to serve Connecticut students. However, building a more diverse student body remains a challenging goal. The student body is over 73% White with Black/Non-Hispanic students constituting the largest minority population at 7.29%, followed by Hispanic at 5.43%, Asian/Pacific Islander 2.69%, non-resident alien 1.82%, Indian/Alaskan native .49%, and unreported ethnicity as 9.17%. Compared to the demographic composition of recent graduates from Connecticut’s public high schools, students who report a race/ethnicity other than White are underrepresented among CCSU’s undergraduate student population, although it is important to recognize that not all high school graduates have completed the coursework required for college admission. The graduation rate of minority students at CCSU is comparable to those at the other three CSU institutions.

The University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment has examined the relationship between SAT/ACT scores and class rank on subsequent student performance to better understand their reliability as predictors of student success. Among incoming full-time, first-time students, the factor most predictive of success has been high school class rank. SAT scores have also been predictive of success for those graduating in the top half of their high school class, but these scores did not predict success for full-time, first-time students who graduated in the bottom half of their high school class.

OIRA also tracks performance of students who are admitted through CCSU’s conditional admission programs (ConnCAS, EOP, and Phoenix), and this information is shared with relevant faculty and administrators. In general, students who did not qualify for regular admission were retained and graduated at lower rates than were those students who did qualify for regular admission. One exception was the EOP Program, whose students were retained at slightly higher rates than the student population at-large but graduated at lower rates, suggesting that students may experience difficulties after support services are removed in their second year of college.

The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) is administered every two years to undergraduate students. Students have an opportunity to evaluate the following regarding admissions: staff provide personalized attention prior to enrollment (Item #7) and counselors accurately portray the campus in their recruiting practices (Item #33). While the gap between students’ satisfaction and level of importance in 2004 and 2006 was not markedly different from students’ ratings at other institutions, the University still aspires to improve in both of these areas.

Retention and Graduation

Both retention and graduation have been targeted for marked improvement in the institution’s strategic plan. After several years of small but steady declines from 45% in 1998 to 40% in 2004, CCSU’s six-year graduation rate for full-time, first time students has begun to show improvement, having increased to 44% for those entering in fall 2001, and reported in 2007. Although CCSU’s six-year graduation rate has fallen below the average graduation rate at our national peer institutions, recent improvements in CCSU’s one-year retention rate of full-time, first-time students would suggest that graduation rates should be expected to improve over the next 3-5 years. For full-time, first-time students who entered CCSU in fall 1997, the retention rate was 69%, but ten years later, for the group entering in fall 2006, this rate had improved to 79%.

The University is also concerned that 43% of our entering full-time, first-time students in fall 2007 required remediation in English, math, or both, although this proportion has declined by 7%-12% since 2003-2005. The new “Bridges Program” in collaboration with area high schools is intended to reduce the number of entering students requiring remediation. Further, the subsequent success of students who complete remedial coursework with a grade of C- or better is comparable to students who were not identified for remediation

For full-time, first-time students entering CCSU in fall 1999 and later, the one-year retention rate for minority students has averaged about one percentage point lower than the retention rate for white students. Six-year graduation rates for minority students in the same cohorts, however, have ranged from 8-12 percentage points lower than those of white students but have generally trended upwards over the past five years, while the graduation rate for white students has generally remained in the mid-40% range.

 

Student Services

Based on SSI results, students indicate that they are satisfied with campus services such as library resources and services, computer labs, availability of tutoring services, online access to services, and availability of counseling services. On the other hand, students reported lower satisfaction with services in the areas of academic advising and career education. Students also reported a lack of mentors to guide life and career goals. Students reported lower satisfaction in areas that might interfere with time-to-degree. Those are challenges with the ability to register for classes with few conflicts, sufficient courses available each term, convenient registration processes and procedures, help to set goals to work toward, applying academic major to career goals, and getting the “run-around” when seeking information on campus.

Students rated advising and course availability as the items of greatest import and lowest satisfaction on both the 2004 and 2006 Student Satisfaction Surveys  CCSU is in the process of responding to the advising surveys, both of which indicated serious deficits.  The Graduation and Retention Council and the Advising Task Force, both collaborative initiatives between Academic and Student Affairs, have been meeting regularly to address advising delivery systems, administrative structure, transfer advising, faculty adviser load, adviser training, first-year student advising, evaluation of advising  and other issues.

In addition, the Advising Center has been without consistent leadership for over six years.  NEASC reported that the Advising Center was under-resourced and CCSU lacked commitment to advising ten years ago.  The CAPP degree audit system is the only improvement that has been made since then.

Resources to support student advising in the academic schools have not been proportionately allocated, which has made advising uneven across academic schools and departments.  For instance, the Schools of Business, Engineering and Technology, and Education and Professional Studies have fewer students to advise but have substantially more administrative faculty dedicated to student advising, whereas the School of Arts and Sciences (which has 69% of the spring 2008 FTE enrollments) has only one person dedicated to student advising.  In addition, student-faculty ratios are uneven across academic departments.  Given the significant disparity across academic departments, students in some departments are not afforded as much time for advising as students in other academic departments.

Career service challenges were revealed during a survey of spring 2007 graduates. An exit survey of 654 graduating seniors indicates that only 381 students used Career Services.

Some respondents believe that not all students are well informed about services available to them and that better coordination of services is needed. Others report concerns about students who register late and the problem with getting a reasonable class schedule. Efforts to alleviate these problems have included adopting new course scheduling software, opening additional sections of courses in anticipation of late registrations, and preparing a 15-hour schedule for all entering first-year students. Additional challenges center on the number of hours that our students work, the need to get students involved on campus, and the importance of creating a more diverse student body. The University has addressed these concerns by establishing more on-campus employment opportunities, integrating a co-curricular component in First-year Experience (FYE) courses, and instituting a new program of scholarships to attract students from underrepresented groups to specific majors (e.g., education, engineering, science). The need to increase the number of residence halls and to provide better orientation and academic support were also cited as challenges for the University.

Survey results from the SSI (’04 & ’06) show four of the University’s overall strengths associated with equity: students feel there is a strong commitment to diversity; they feel welcome on the campus; they feel free to express themselves; and they feel that the campus is safe and secure. Despite these positive indicators, two high profile incidents in the past year—including a “satire” on rape and an offensive cartoon in our student newspaper—have resulted not only in some very negative publicity for the University but also in vocal complaints from some students and faculty that the University administration has not been sufficiently sensitive or responsive to the concerns of women, of GLBT, and of racial minorities. As a result, the University has taken a number of decisive steps to improve our diversity climate, including creating a cabinet-level position of Chief Diversity Officer, convening a Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity,  and piloting the integration of diversity content in several courses—among many other initiatives.

Job descriptions for student services professionals have not kept pace with serving the changing needs of today’s students and families. Staff members need professional development in best practices, use of technology, professional standards, program and service goal setting and assessment, project management, and budget management.

Orientation

Last year, the Orientation budget was increased from $49,000 to $94,000. The University hired a full-time Assistant Dean of New Student Transitions and a full-time clerical staff member to support the program. Since 2005 to the present, participation in new student orientation increased from 76% to 94%. Evaluations completed by students and parents who participated rated all aspects of the program positively. Several challenges to improving orientation include the rising cost of food and housing to participate in overnight orientation.

 

Financial Aid

According to the SSI, students reported a higher level of satisfaction from ’04 to ’06 in the timeliness of financial aid award notifications, availability of financial aid counseling, and with getting help to identify other resources for financing education. However, the gap between satisfaction and importance indicates that students still want improved financial services.

 

The challenge is that tuition and fees continue to rise. As expected, the number of students applying for and receiving financial assistance has increased. After deducting discounts and allowances, net expenses for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships was $17,843,565 in 2007-08, versus $15,722,362 in 2006-07. Students report working more to finance their education, and more are filing for and receiving aid.

According to the survey data provided by the Connecticut State University System Office, 55% of students were supported from federal, state and personal loans, an increase of 14% from 1999. This indicates students are relying on loans to support their educational expenses. The increasing cost of college education has become a major factor in changing students’ educational financing pattern.

 

Recreation, Intramural Sports, and Athletics

Recent surveys taken by students, including the Student Satisfaction Survey, confirm students’ interest in recreation and intramural sports.  During fiscal year 2006/07 Recreation was transferred to the Division of Student Affairs.  In order to launch a successful program, over 7% of the operating budget for Student Affairs was dedicated to recreation during the 2006/07 fiscal year. During fall 2007 an average of 100 students per day participated in open recreation. 

The University’s commitment to the recreational interests of its students has been demonstrated with additional resources being dedicated for further expansion.  During the spring 2008 semester approximately 100 students and two graduate assistants were employed by the Recreation department. For fiscal year 2008/09 a total of $600,000 in funding has been set aside to purchase equipment and provide new facilities for recreation, with some facilities planned within the residence halls. 

In 2003-04, 11 teams (61%) met the NCAA Cut Rate Score for the Annual Academic Progress Report. In 2006-07, 16 teams (92%) met the cut rate score; only two did not.

Facilities

Although student service facilities have suffered from the same constraints as other university divisions, significant investments have been made over the past several years to accommodate the ever-growing and changing needs of our student population.  Over the past ten years, the University has invested over $50 million to improve student service facilities, and the institution is projected to spend more than $50 million on student support services over the next decade.  In addition, the University has spent over $50 million dollars upgrading residence halls, which includes improvement in study and computer areas for students.

Nevertheless, some facilities are too small for the services they provide; others require deferred maintenance, and some services are separated in different buildings. For example, the facilities for advising and career services are in need of renovation. The Learning Center is too small for the number of students it serves, and the Writing Center, which serves a similar clientele, is located in another building. Similarly, the Police Station is too small for the needs of its staff.

However, housing the Bursars Office and Financial Aid in the same building (Memorial Hall), on the same floor and in the middle of the campus, has dramatically reduced the “run-around” that students complain about.  Additionally, increasing the number of procedures that can be done on line has substantially reduced the volume of traffic in those areas. Instituting online billing changed students’ satisfaction results with the billing process from an institutional challenge in 2004 to an institutional strength in 2006.

 

Projection

The newly hired Director of Recruitment and Admissions and the Enrollment Management Team will review challenges such as diversifying the student body, evaluating admissions criteria for specifically recruited groups, upgrading technology (i.e., accept digital transcripts; accuracy in live/real time admissions status, virtual tours, pod cast), enhancing admissions materials, and streamlining  the admissions process. Having one full-time professional staff member in Admissions evaluate transcripts will reduce inconsistencies in the interpretation of transfer credits.

Research will be done in 2008-09 to determine why many students who persist to a fourth year do not graduate. For the first-time, full-time students who entered in 1999 through 2001 between 54% and 57% persisted to a fourth year, yet about a quarter of these students did not complete a degree within the next two years.

 

Because many of the programs for special populations are administered by different departments and supervisors, there is a lack of coordination in serving these populations.  There is also much duplication of effort that has resulted from administering separate programs with similar missions.   As a result, efficiencies in staffing, program funding, and other resources are not being realized.   In the future the University should perform program audits, study best practices, and discuss the benefits that would result from bringing programs that have similar missions under common coordination. 

Two significant initiatives will address developmental and remedial issues going forward.  The Department of Mathematical Sciences will pilot an intensive developmental math course sequence in fall 2008 that will provide an opportunity for students to achieve college-level math proficiency by the end of the first semester.  Plans are also in place to pilot a “Bridges Program” that is designed to reduce entering college students’ need for remediation. A longer-term objective at CCSU is to build a college preparatory magnet school on our campus in collaboration with five of our principal feeder school districts.

Plans for improving student retention and graduation rates are outlined in a report by the Retention and Graduation Council. The recommendations include actions to improve the academic success of specific subpopulations of students: commuter, residential, transfer, and part-time. A new program of small grants from the Offices of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs will fund projects by each of the Council’s five subcommittees.

To improve the chances for success of students who get off to a poor academic start and to reduce the number of students who are academically dismissed, the Retention and Graduation Council is developing an early intervention program that identifies students who are not succeeding academically by the midpoint of their first semester and will implement an academic intervention to help them complete their first semester successfully.

Implementing the recommendations of the Advising Task Force will be a high priority for CCSU. The recommendations of the Task Force include changing the reporting line for the Advising Center and Career Services from Student Affairs to Academic Affairs, providing professional development for advisors, rewarding faculty for advising activities, conducting campus-wide forums to discuss and assess best practices in advising, and integrating a career education focus to advising.

To address student complaints about “runaround,” the offices of Recruitment and Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, and the Bursar are working with the Chief Administrative Officer to design a new space that will combine those services in a single location. Plans are also underway to integrate the Advising Center and Career Services into a single unit with a mission to assist students with both academic and career planning. Another plan is to integrate the Writing Center and the Learning Center, with long-range plans to develop an “Academic Success Center.”

To meet the goal of having 100% of our athletic teams meet the NCAA cut score on the APR, each coach has developed a strategic plan for attaining and maintaining high academic standards.  Two additional study hall spaces in Kaiser Hall are being completed.  These facilities will reduce the overcrowding in the current limited space and foster greater academic success.  It will further enhance the overall learning environment for student athletes in maintaining all University and NCAA academic standards.

To address the shortage of space available for recreational activities, the University plans to invest $7 million from its reserves as part of an extensive renovation that will include establishing a dedicated field for intramural recreation, as well as other improvements to our athletic fields and facilities that will benefit both recreational and varsity athletes. The University has also earmarked several hundred thousand dollars in 2008-09 to establish satellite fitness facilities in several residence halls on campus.

In the upcoming year the Student Activities and Leadership Development Office will publish a “Handbook for Student Organizations.”  This handbook will include the Code of Ethics that was recently drafted by a student committee and approved by various student organizations.  Additionally a Student Employee Guide that was devised for use in our Student Center will be reviewed and revised for possible use throughout the offices within student affairs. 

As part of a system-wide effort, Human Resources will be working with Student Affairs to identify job descriptions for administrative faculty that are outdated, inaccurate, and not reflective of the best practices in the field.  While this review will be done for all administrative faculty job description across the campus, particular attention will be paid to the student affairs descriptions, many of which have not been updated in many years.  Student Affairs staff will be encouraged to participate in the numerous professional development activities on campus through the Human Resources Department, the Information Technology Department, and the State In-service Training program.  Moreover, the Human Resources office will work with the Vice President for Student Affairs to identify specific training needs for student affairs staff and to determine the best approach for delivering the training.  Increased funding will be made available for additional professional development activities through the many professional organizations with which the Student Affairs staff are associated.

 

 The mission and vision for Student Affairs will be re-visited within the next calendar year to ensure alignment with the needs of our students, as well as with the goals of the University. 

 

Institutional Effectiveness

The institution regularly plans and sets targets for the number, type, and profile of incoming students. Adjustments to admission practices and policies are made based on a careful review of acceptance rates, yield rates, and the profile of the incoming class of first-year students.

Retention and graduation rates of full-time, first-time students, as well as transfer students, are also closely monitored, and these metrics are linked to specific targets in the Strategic Plan (Objectives 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3). All of these measurements are tracked and disseminated by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

The evaluation of student services is carried out on the institution-level and also on the program-level. The primary instrument for the evaluation of student services at the institution-level is the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), which is administered to the entire student population on a two-year cycle. The SSI assesses student satisfaction and perception on seven scales: student centeredness, campus life, instructional effectiveness, recruitment and financial aid effectiveness, campus services, academic advising effectiveness, registration effectiveness, safety and security, and campus climate. Results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) supplement findings from the SSI, and results from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey are used to inform programming for entering students, such as Orientation and the First-Year Experience.

Various units in Student Affairs also conduct program-level assessment initiatives. Notably the Student Center and the Department of Residence Life administer the Educational Benchmarking, Inc. surveys for their respective areas, and make adjustments based on the findings. Additionally, all units within Student Affairs completed a Council on the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) Self-Assessment during AY 2006-07 (Exhibit 6.8).  These evaluations were used to identify programmatic strengths and weaknesses and to develop budget requests to acquire resources where deficiencies were identified. 

 

The next steps in advancing institutional effectiveness efforts in student-related services will involve developing a broad-based system of regular review. A particular emphasis will be placed on identifying and assessing co-curricular learning outcomes, as called for in the Strategic Plan. A formal review process similar to the process developed for the Academic Assessment Committee is envisioned to provide feedback, communicate institutional information, and share successful practices.

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