By Donna Fowler
Entering the third year of the five-year, $1.88 million Title III Strengthening Institutions grant, MSU Denver is making progress on the grant’s two primary initiatives: enhancing academic support services through technology and faculty development activities and coordinating teacher education advising processes and structures through the establishment of a School of Education.
“Many improvements that the Title III grant is enabling the University to make align perfectly with the Student and Academic Success strategic theme in the 2012-17 strategic plan,” says Sheila Thompson, associate vice president of curriculum and academic effectiveness and one of the grant’s principal investigators.
The first major phase in the grant’s support services component has been realized with the launch this August of the modified Web CAPP report. According to Ned Muhovich, director of the Academic Advising Center, the report was greatly improved both visually and content-wise.
“For instance, the student version and the faculty version are now quite similar, making comparing the two easier,” Muhovich says. “And advisors now have access to information, such as test scores, that will help them guide the student to the right course. It even has the student’s current course schedule whereas before it was hard to find this information.”
Prior to the grant, the University purchased the Banner Relationship Management (BRM) Enrollment Management module through the Rightsizing With Technology initiative after it was recommended by the Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force. In its first year, the grant paid to implement the Enrollment Management module and in its second year, it paid to purchase and implement the Student module, which will improve the advising process for faculty, staff and students.
Both BRM modules, Enrollment Management and Student, will integrate with the technology and procedures currently in place at the University.
The Enrollment module went live in September 2011, and following several months of training, the Admissions Office started using the program last spring. According to Director of Admissions and Outreach Vaughn Toland, the main way his staff is using it so far is for e-mail campaigns to prospective students, encouraging them to apply to the University, and new students who have not yet registered for classes. Admissions is currently running a campaign of three e-mails to prospective students inviting them to attend the Nov. 10 Open House.
“We’re really just scratching the surface,” Toland says. “I know we can take it much further once we’ve worked out some of the system’s bugs.”
Toland says the Recruiting and Admissions Performance (RAP) reporting function is an important capability that he hopes to use soon. And he cites the tracking function as another component that will be of great value to faculty and staff. This function allows anyone who meets with a prospect or a current student to enter their meeting notes as an “interaction.” Through the BRM software, these interactions can be viewed by any faculty or staff member so that they have an up-to-date, accurate account of what has been discussed previously.
Now the BRM-Student module is being implemented. After weeks of training this summer on this “complicated” software, Muhovich says, “the Academic Advising Center is ready to go.”
He sees the biggest benefit of the software as the ability to proactively target groups of students with information that is very important for their successful retention and graduation. “For instance, it’s absolutely essential that certain groups of students know about any changes in general studies requirements,” he explains. His office can send a series of e-mails to these students, and “it’s a two-way street. So if they act upon the e-mail, we can remove them from the list. And we send them an e-mail acknowledging and thanking them for taking action.”
Next up is training in how to use the BRM-Student module for any faculty or staff member who advises students. Click here to take the training online or to schedule an in-person training. In addition, grant-supported trainers are available to go to departments.
School of Education
The formation of a School of Education was recommended by the May 2009 Academic Structure Review Committee and so became the other component of the Title III grant.
“Creating a School of Education will give the programs we offer the visibility we need in the community for strong partnerships and the administrative oversight needed to effectively manage the complexity of teacher preparation programs,” says School of Professional Studies Dean Sandra Haynes, the grant’s other principal investigator. She adds that MSU Denver is the largest licensure program in the Denver metro area and the second largest in Colorado.
President Stephen Jordan concurs with Haynes’ assessment of the importance of MSU Denver’s Teacher Education Program. “A recent study by the Galloway Group,” he says, “cited the excellence of these programs as an opportunity we can build on to meet goals in the strategic plan, such as enhancing our partnership with the Denver Public Schools.”
Title III Education Activity Director Rebecca Canges, assistant professor of special education, says that teams of faculty representatives have been researching model schools of education, looking at best practices and comparing the relevant components of each. These models and best practices will help inform MSU Denver’s School of Education organizational structure, job descriptions and ultimately curriculum.
According to Canges, meetings have been held with faculty at California State University, Northridge and Jacksonville State University, among others.
“We discussed their structures, programs and methods for supporting an effective School of Education” says Canges. “It is our hope to take what we have learned in order to develop a strong proposal that has innovative ideas for a School of Education at MSU Denver.”
A task force chaired by Canges has been formed to discuss next steps. The members are from the Teacher Education Program and the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences to be representative of the different branches of teacher education.
“We want the development of this proposal to be a truly collaborative effort so that we can create a School of Education that prepares our students to be effective teachers in our schools.”
For more information about any of these aspects of the grant, go to the Title III website.
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