Center for Academic Excellence prepares for future advancements

By Russell Dotson

Sidewalk chalk writing around campus invites students to various organized study halls in the Center for Academic Excellence. The study halls and the walkways advertising are part of the many changes occurring in the CAE.

Dr. Tammi Cooper, professor in the College of Business, is the new assistant dean of learning and student success. She will oversee the CAE and its secretary, Diane Gryseels.

Cooper and Gryseels are working to create in the CAE an environment that attracts students, one where they feel welcome. The two will be reformatting the CAE’s Web site this semester. The site currently functions as an advertising and communication tool for Crusader Connection.

Photo by Brittany Tice, The Bells

Photo by Brittany Tice, The Bells

“One of the goals for the spring is to have a Web site up for the CAE so students and faculty can have access to the resources and services we provide,” Cooper said. “We would like to make the CAE and its services more marketable to students.”

Gryseels and Cooper are organizing meetings with various academic departments to learn how they can meet the needs of students.

“We are going to spend time . . .  finding ways to communicate with students and increase awareness with what we do,” Cooper said.

They are optimistic about the future for the CAE and its role in the academic lives of students.

Cooper’s new office is located in the provost’s suite on the top floor of Sanderford. She is currently teaching two business courses, but after this semester, she will teach a freshman seminar and devote the remainder of her time to her new position.

“In addition to overseeing the CAE,” Cooper said, “I’m excited about Crusader Connection, Freshman Seminar and other student retention initiatives. Our campus is full of talented professionals, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with them on continually improving these various programs.”

Last summer, Gryseels moved the CAE from Mabee to Hardy, a transition that she said was less painful than expected.

The CAE now has six rooms in Hardy, offering students a computer lab, study halls, academic support counseling, tutors in a variety of subjects and an assortment of coffees and teas for $1 per cup.

“The primary reason students come in, is to use the computer lab,” Gryseels said. The lab, located in room 109, has 18 computers.

“Currently, printing is free in the lab, but we ask students to limit their printing to between 10 and 20 pages per visit,” she said.

The CAE has 17 tutors who specialize in math, English, science, history, religion and quantitative business analysis courses.

“Many of the students coming in for tutoring are freshmen, but we have quite a few upper-level students seeking help with advanced courses such as statistics and chemistry,” Gryseels said.

The CAE provides academic support counseling for conditionally admitted students and for those who request a support counselor. Six student workers serve as academic student counselors, and the majority of them are tutors as well.

“An ASC is a peer mentor who encourages students to study, develop healthy routines and seek tutoring when needed,” Gryseels said.

Marcos Garcia, a math tutor and ASC, said, “I help students who are in need of guidance with their academic endeavors here at UMHB. As an ASC, I believe that my constant guidance helps to encourage the students who see me to strive for the best grades that they possibly can during the semester. It puts a smile on my face when the students I tutor come back and thank me for the help I have given them.”

As well as tutoring in Hardy, Garcia also tutors in the Getty’s dorm every Tuesday evening. The CAE started branching out of its main location last semester by assigning tutors in each subject to work one evening a week in a dorm.

Garcia participated in Crusader Connection last year and plans to help with it this summer.

“We have more space in Hardy which has allowed us to start hosting study halls every week,”Gryseels said. “Some students are required to attend a one-hour study hall. They are able to work on their studies in the computer lab, or they may choose to study in a private room. They may also choose to receive tutoring during that time.”

The sidewalk writing is part of the CAE’s growing outreach, and the writing will continue for now, Gryseels said, but the center’s Web site will eventually take its place.

“We plan on visiting CAEs at other universities to get ideas for support programs and tutoring services,” Cooper said. “We also hope to get insight from our faculty on how to better serve their academic areas.”

Author: The Bells Staff

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