The five distinct centers that make up the Division of Academic Success at Endicott College each serves students in unique ways. And, each center shares a single commitment: To meet student needs at the highest possible standard.
To honor that commitment, the staff has joined and taken an active role in the work of national organizations representing their specific field. Doing so introduces staff to current trends that impact practice, offers interaction with colleagues that leads to meaningful change, and enables each professional to share their own innovative ideas and student-centered models with the broader academic community.
Dean of the Division Allison Muise has facilitated this commitment, saying, “It is important to stay on top of current trends. The scope of higher education is constantly changing. Our connection to these national organizations helps us focus on the now as we simultaneously look to the future, enabling us to meet the needs of our current students and all those Gulls yet to come.”
Director of Student Success & Retention Teresa McGrath considers the annual National Symposium on Student Retention, sponsored by the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the University of Oklahoma, indispensable to her work. “The Symposium brings educators and administrators together from two and four year colleges from across the country,” shares McGrath.
McGrath was an enthusiastic participant in the 2020 conference. “It was held virtually,” she says, “and many panels, presentations, and discussion groups were centered around how colleges were adapting their retention strategies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I described how the Division of Academic Success here at Endicott took extra steps to make sure our students felt connected over the extended winter break, and my colleagues at the event were impressed by our ability to transition remotely—both in March and November—so smoothly.”
Brittany Potter, Assistant Dean, Director of the Tutoring & Writing Center and the Center for Advising Services, looks to two national organizations for information and inspiration. The Tutoring & Writing Center partners with the College Reading & Learning Association, the leading professional organization for training and certifying peer tutors. “Because we are a CRLA-certified center, all our trainings are based on proscribed topics introduced by CRLA and span three levels of expertise,” says Potter. “More and more of our peer tutors strive to become certified Level II and III tutors. This is a big deal—Level II and III certification represents a commitment of multiple semesters on a student’s part. We’re so proud of their ambition as well as their desire to serve their peers.”
Potter continues, “Even our College’s commitment to its DEI initiatives is supported by what I learn from CRLA. I attend monthly CRLA Diversity & Inclusion meetings to learn how best to incorporate those elements into tutor training.”
Potter also attends biweekly committee meetings with NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising for guidance and support. “I am an enthusiastic reader of the NACADA monthly journal, which always offers content that sparks ideas for advising events and new advisor training materials,” says Potter. “The handouts NACADA produces provide content that influences individual meetings I have with students, offering me great ideas for guiding questions and new models with which I can help students express themselves more clearly about their academic journey here at Endicott.”
Endicott’s Center for Academic Coaching is committed to mutually beneficial learning and collaboration with the international National Tutoring Association (NTA)—an organization dedicated to improving the practice of tutors, coaches, and mentors working both in academic institutions and the private sector. “When we made the decision to shift our model from that offered by the old Student Support Center, we knew we needed a practice model that both helped us transform and reflected our own philosophy of student growth and development,” says Director Amy Cohn. Benefitting from NTA’s complete curriculum for coaches, the Center’s more than two dozen coaches are now certified as advanced academic coaches. The Center’s leadership utilizes ideas and practices offered by the NTA in the ongoing professional development opportunities offered to coaches.
Certification is just the beginning of the NTA journey according to Cohn. “The Center’s Program Coordinator Ben Horgan and I just presented at NTA’s annual conference (virtually, of course, in this COVID-19 year!), describing how we supported our three constituent groups—students, parents, and staff—during the shift to remote learning last Spring.” Former Intern Dan Calnan ’21, also participated, helping to share how the Center for Academic Coaching created an online library for coaches from which to explore the theoretical underpinnings of the field.
“We must have done a good job at those presentations,” Cohn says. “Both Ben and I were asked to join the organization’s Board of Directors. We can’t wait to see what this participation means for our students and our Center.”
Horgan is active in NACADA, also, “Seeing how our model is employed somewhat differently gets us focused on consistent improvement and innovation. We want to provide the highest quality academic coaching for Endicott students, and this endeavor is not a fixed target,” says Horgan.
Center for Accessibility Services Director Christy Galatis, also an Assistant Dean with the Division, names two groups she finds indispensable to her professional practice: the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the University of Connecticut’s Postsecondary Disability Training Institute (PTI).
Galatis attends monthly regional meetings and webinars offered by AHEAD and pours over the monthly on-line journal. She also regularly attends both the regional and National AHEAD conferences. “The discussion boards are very helpful, too,” Galatis shares. “They enable me to access the experience of incredibly knowledgeable colleagues, helping me address student needs here at Endicott with the most relevant information and practice models.”
PTI is one of the best conferences available to professionals in the field, according to Galatis. She regularly attends the national conference and monitors the website for new programs and disability matters.
“We like to think our active involvement with national organizations is one of the reasons why our students are so engaged,” says Galatis. “Because we are always learning ourselves, and because we are committed to contributing to the national conversation, our methods and ideas are constantly refreshed.”