Abstract. Creating a UW-Superior Center for Nontraditional Students and Veterans

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3 Abstract Creating a UW-Superior Center for Nontraditional Students and Veterans UW-Superior requests $130, in first year funding of a three year project to create an integrated office and center to improve student success for nontraditional aged students, veteran students, and the student spouses and families of those in service. The center will be linked operationally with existing student services, campus life, and outreach units. It will focus on the transition to college for the students and groups it serves, providing links to resources, peer mentoring, career guidance, and student engagement. Projected outcomes include a 7% increase in the six year graduation/retention rate of nontraditional students; an increase in veteran student enrollment of 35% by 2020, improved ratings in the Adult Learner Focused Institution (ALFI) annual survey, and improved ratings in the G.I. Jobs annual survey in the category of Veterans Resources. During the three year period, $40,000 will be raised through the UW-Superior Foundation in support of center programs. The project supports UW-Superior s Growth Agenda goals by increasing retention and graduation. Nontraditional students currently make up nearly 30% of the UW-Superior student body, including a 5% enrollment of veterans. The university has a 44% six year graduation rate, with a Growth Agenda goal to increase to 56% by In committing to creation of this center, UW-Superior recognizes the need to transform existing practices to better serve these underrepresented groups of students, increasing their enrollment, satisfaction, and success at the university. 3

4 Creating a UW-Superior Center for Nontraditional Students and Veterans Project Description UW-Superior will create an integrated office and center to improve student success for nontraditional aged students, veteran students, students in current military service, and the student spouses and families of those in service. Modeled on the best practices of existing centers at other UW universities, the center will connect these students with internal and external resources, provide peer mentoring, and create programming in support of their needs and interests. Goals of the project: To create an office to serve nontraditional students (age 25 and older) To create a center to serve veteran students, spouses and families of those in service To operate the office and center in an integrated way for efficient use of resources To link the office and center directly, in an operational way, with essential service units: Admissions,Veterans Benefit Coordinator, Advising, Student Support Services, Distance Learning Center, Dean of Students, Career Services, Financial Aid To raise UW-Superior s visibility in the community and region as a higher education choice for nontraditional students, veterans, spouses and families of those in service Outcomes of the project: Six year graduation/retention of nontraditional students will increase by 7%, from the current 44% to 51%, by the end of the three year period. Veteran student enrollment will increase by 50 students over the period , an increase of 35% Ratings will improve in key service areas on the Adult Learner Focused Institution (ALFI) annual survey Ratings will improve in the Veterans Resources category of the G.I. Jobs annual survey, from the current 3.4 to 3.7 or higher A fund will be created in the UW-Superior Foundation to support some of the center s activities through alumni contributions, with a goal of $40,000 during the project period. The project will be carried out through the following activities: 4

5 1. Creation of a visible and accessible center facility in UW-Superior s Old Main, utilizing space vacated by units which moved to the newly opened Swenson Hall in Fall The center will have separate but connected spaces for staff/student interaction and for a gathering space for veterans/military students. 2. Establishing a coordinator of the center to manage the center and provide direct services to students. These duties will include recruitment, connection of students with internal and external resources, and communication with prospective and current students. The coordinator will build relationships with external services, particularly those for veterans and those currently serving. 3. Expansion of the existing veteran s benefit coordinator position in the Registrar s Office to full-time, and engagement of the coordinator in the center s programming and services. This position will supervise the VA work-study employee and other student employees,. 4. Provision of peer mentoring through a student staff of nontraditional students and veterans, supplementing VA student employment funding. Active involvement of students in the operation of the center is an important part of our vision. 5. Creation of communication and information resources to inform students about the center s services. 6. Creation of a fund within the UW-Superior Foundation to provide ongoing funding for some of the center s expenses. Need for the project Service to nontraditional students UW-Superior currently serves about 800 nontraditional students (using the System definition of age 25 and over) in its 2800-student body, or just under 30% of headcount enrollment, a percentage that has remained fairly constant since the 1980s. This percentage is 5

6 consistently the highest among UW universities. About half of these students are enrolled through the university s Distance Learning Center, where they receive a high level of service through advisors and staff connecting them with university resources, resolving academic and administrative issues, and providing career guidance. This level of service is funded through Distance Learning fees and tuition as provided under the Regents policies for distance learning. The other half of the nontraditional student body is served in the same way traditional undergraduate students are served. These 400 students, nearly all with job and family responsibilities and long separated from education, must navigate the university s processes and procedures without the kind of support that has been demonstrated to make a difference in our Distance Learning programs and at other institutions. Noting the need for improved service to these students, UW-Superior s Vice Chancellor for Campus Life, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Outreach, Associate Dean of Students, Registrar, and Career Services Director have joined to develop the vision presented in this proposal. Key elements of this vision are identified best practices: interaction with staff skilled in planning and guiding students with significant personal responsibilities; peer mentoring from others of similar age and experience; and engagement of these students in activities such as academic service learning, campus employment, and student-faculty research, building stronger relationships with the university (Wyatt, 2011) UW-Superior s student body is demographically similar to that of the UW Colleges, which also have higher percentages of nontraditional and first generation college students. Each of the Colleges provides a nontraditional student office to serve the needs of these learners. Other UWs with higher percentages of nontraditional learners, notably Eau Claire, Milwaukee, and Oshkosh, have established offices to provide one-stop guidance, support, and programming. The proposed project will establish this same type of office at Superior, modeling closely on the successful offices at UW Colleges, UW-Eau Claire Nontraditional Student 6

7 Services, and UW-Oshkosh Adult Nontraditional Student Resource Office. Our vision goes a step further by incorporating a Veterans Center and operating it in an integrated way with services for nontraditional students, to efficiently serve these overlapping categories of students. Service to veterans, active duty military, spouses and families UW-Superior currently enrolls 165 veterans of armed services, about 5% of the student body. This number has grown by about 10% since Further growth is expected in the next several years as active service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of the major National Guard units in the region, the 724 th Army Engineering Battalion in Wisconsin and the 148 th Air Fighter Wing in Minnesota, have been deployed during these conflicts. The northwest Wisconsin/northeast Minnesota region may see an increase in active duty service personnel in the next two to three years. In February 2012, the 148 th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota National Guard, operating from a base in Duluth, was designated as one of only six Active Associate National Guard units in the US. This designation solidifies the long term future of this base and will bring 40 to 50 active duty Air Force personnel to the base to work with guardsmen (Weinand, 2012). Recent studies have demonstrated the benefit of transition assistance to help veterans move from the military experience to the college experience (Cook & Kim, 2009) A 2011 report from the Association for Study of Higher Education identifies a veteran s office on campus and advising/career services as among important factors in institutional policy for supporting veterans. Peer mentoring and a one-stop approach to serving veterans students, staffed by those who speak the language of military service, are best practice strategies. Other important best practices include regular offering of group meetings for families, and workshops to develop skills such as stress management, offered on an evening or weekend schedule when those needing them can attend (ASHE, July 2011). 7

8 UW-Superior lacks a visible service center to provide transition for veterans, active duty military, and their families. Currently veteran s services to both campus and Distance Learning students are provided by a 50% University Services Associate in the Registrar s Office who approves and processes military tuition benefits, and provides information to student veterans. The Associate Dean of Students currently supervises a student volunteer who plans programs such as the Veteran s Day Honoring Ceremony. This office also works to involve students in the Veterans and Friends student organization and provides other support and resources to veterans on a regular basis. UW-Superior has in the past two years received Military Friendly School designation, along with all other UW universities, from G.I. Jobs Magazine and UW-Superior s ratings from its student veterans in this evaluation, however, indicate a lower level of satisfaction on veterans resources (3.4 on a 4.0 scale) than with other aspects of university life such as school environment and faculty (3.8 and 3.7 respectively). As with nontraditional learners, other UWs have successful models for serving veterans, active duty military and their families which we can replicate at UW-Superior. The UW-Eau Claire Veterans Center, UW-Stevens Point Student Veteran Affairs Office, and UW-Oshkosh Veterans Resource Center will provide models for services and programs. Transformative change effects of the center As noted above, UW-Superior has not had specific staff or facilities to serve nontraditional aged campus students or veterans. In this commitment to create a center to serve these students, the university is recognizing the time has come to think differently about these students and to serve them in ways more attuned to their distinct needs. 8

9 Alignment with the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin and with UW-Superior Mission and Goals UW-Superior s history of attracting nontraditional aged students suggests the university is well positioned to bring more of these students to higher education. Establishing a center to serve their unique needs is an important way to improve their retention and degree completion. UW-Superior also features academic programs which align well with career goals of students recently separated from service, notably transportation and logistics management, legal studies, sustainable management, health and wellness management, and teacher preparation programs. Establishing a center which better supports these prospective students will contribute to their success rate. UW-Superior s Growth Agenda strategy for Increasing Graduates is centered on improvement of retention, with an increase from the current six year graduation rate of 44% to 56% in 2025 (UW-Superior, 2011). This project will improve student retention at UW-Superior by providing an improved level of service to 30% of the university s students. The focused services to veterans, and improved connections with regional organizations connecting veterans with education, will provide the potential to grow enrollment in this category by Improving Access. UW-Superior s Select Mission specifies individual attention to students. This project directly improves individual attention to a significant portion of the student body. UW-Superior s 2011 Strategic Priorities specify two items directly addressed by this project: Academic Excellence, Goal 4: Respond to the continuing and changing needs of both traditional and non-traditional students. Campus Life, Goal 4: Develop inclusive programming that allows greater participation of non-traditional/commuting students, staff, and the local community. 9

10 The project will also complement a simultaneous initiative to establish a Veterans Upward Bound program at UW-Superior through federal funding. Upward Bound programs are designed to prepare potential students for college entry. Participants in this program will be connected with the center, and will transition to its services as they complete Upward Bound. Project Impact The project has a strong potential for producing transformational and measurable change if successfully implemented. Increasing student retention is the central focus of UW-Superior s Growth Agenda plan. Creation of centers to serve nontraditional learners and veterans is an established practice in higher education, with several successful examples in the UW System. Adoption of the appropriate features of these models is essential to our implementation strategy. The project will serve underrepresented groups within the university population. The presence of the center will raise awareness of the needs of nontraditional and veteran students in the university community, and as a university priority. While models do exist, several of the comprehensive universities have not yet implemented the type of veterans services we envision. The integrated model we propose, a center serving both nontraditional learners in general and veterans/military in specific has potential for replication at those universities. Project Feasibility and Plans for Sustainability The project is broadly sponsored within the university, by the top administrators for Campus Life, Outreach, and the Registrar. Each of these administrative areas will allocate staff time to work with the new center on a regular basis to ensure successful connections with essential services. These allocations are listed in the budget as campus contributions to the project. The center will operate within the portfolio of the Vice Chancellor for Campus Life. 10

11 The System grant will be used as start-up funds to staff and equip the center for three years. This timing is of particular significance to the veterans service element of the center, as the return of veterans from Afghanistan will happen during this period. During the third year of the grant, the center will begin to transition to campus funding. The project sponsors will be responsible for developing a plan to continue operations. Should revenue permit and student use meet goals, continuation with the established scope of operation is expected. Should these goals not be met, a reduced operation with primarily student staffing will be continued. Throughout the period of the project and beyond, staff will work with the UW-Superior Foundation to connect with veteran alumni, re-establishing relationships, involving alumni in center programming, and building a fund for ongoing center support. Assessment of the Project Quantitative assessment will be accomplished through the following: Annual numbers of students served by the center, and trends in this data Trends in numbers of veterans, active military, and spouses/family members enrolled Trends in student retention. The university has a number of initiatives underway to improve retention, so it will be challenging to attribute results in this area directly to the project. However, trends may indicate general effectiveness. Qualitative assessment will be accomplished through the following: Annual data from the CAEL ALFI survey. UW-Superior is a member of the Adult Learner Focused Institution (ALFI) Coalition of the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). The CAEL ALFI survey will be used annually as a qualitative 11

12 assessment to determine satisfaction of campus enrolled nontraditional students, with baseline data collected in Spring The annual G.I Jobs student rating will be used as a qualitative assessment of veteran student satisfaction. Works Cited ASHE. (July 2011). Institutional Response to an Emerging Population of Veterans. ASHE Higher Education Report, Cook, & Kim. (2009). From Soldier to Student: Easing the Transition of Service Members on Campus. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. UW-Superior. (2011). UW-Superior Growth Agenda Accountability Report, UW- Superior. Weinand, J. (2012, February 3rd). "148th Fighter Wing Gains Active Association". Retrieved February 12th, 2012, from Northland's News Center: Wyatt, L. G. (2011). Nontraditional Student Engagement: Increasing Adult Student Success and Retention. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, Project Timeline for Each Year Year One: FY 2013, Beginning July 1, 2012 July 1 The focus of the first year will be identifying and engaging nontraditional students and veterans in the center. Space remodeling begins for the new center; veteran s service coordinator in Registrar s Office appointment increased to 100% to provide program support. August 15 Center coordinator and support staff hired, training for student staff is designed September 1 initial student staff hired, training begins September 15 remodeling completed, staff moves in from temporary location, services begin October/November initial center programming begins. 12

13 June 30 first year concludes. Target metrics: serve 100 different nontraditional learners, 75 veterans/military/spouses and family. Build working relationships with four area veterans and military organizations. Increase retention of nontraditional learners by 1% over the previous year. Raise $10,000 in support of the center through the UW-Superior Foundation. Year Two: FY 2014, beginning July 1, 2013 July 1 Assess and adjust center programs following first year. A focus of the second year will be to improve services to families. Develop and add evening/weekend workshops for families of nontraditional students and veterans. August 15 hiring of student staff for year 2 completed. Student staff training is carried out by September 1 st. June 30 th second year concludes. Target metrics: serve 150 different adult learners, 100 veterans/military/spouses and family. Build working relationships with four additional area veterans and military organizations. Increase retention of nontraditional learners by an additional 3% over the beginning rate. Raise $15,000 in support of the center through the UW-Superior Foundation. Year Three: FY 2015, beginning July 1, 2014 July 1 Assess and adjust center programs following second year. A focus of the third year will be improving transitions from college to career. Transition is made to 40% campus funding. June 30 th third year concludes and project concludes. Target metrics: serve 200 different nontraditional learners, 125 veterans/military/spouses and family. Increase retention of nontraditional learners by an additional 3% over the beginning rate. Raise $15,000 in support of the center through the UW-Superior Foundation. Transition center to campus funding. 13

14 Budget Narrative Budgets are designed to provide phase-up funding in Year 1, with one-time funds for space remodeling to configure the center; full funding in Year 2; and 60% funding in Year 3, to begin the assimilation of the center into campus funding. Personnel Academic Staff Center Coordinator - $50,000 annual as academic staff program manager appointment. This position is prorated at 90% in the first year to allow for the hiring process. Campus contributions in this category include 20% assignments of an advisor from the Distance Learning Center and a counselor from Career Services to work in the Center providing transition services for students. Classified Staff University Service Associate 2, 50%, $13,400, to increase existing Veterans Service Coordinator position from 50% to 100%. This position will also provide staff support to Center programming. Student Workers Funding to provide 40 hrs/week of student staffing during 36 weeks of the year at $10/hr. These funds will be complemented by the VA work-study 0.5 student position funding received by the university. This student staffing will provide peer mentoring, program support, and evening hour staffing for the center. Fringe Benefits: Fringe benefits are calculated at standard UW rates: Faculty/Academic Staff at 46.4%; student assistants at 2.9%; Classified staff at 83%. Supplies & Expenses Equipment: Furniture ($5,000) to equip the center; laptop computer and printer, and a portable projector and case ($3,000)for presentations to off-campus groups. Supplies: $1,500 annually to pay computer service and telephone service fees, office materials 14

15 Staff Travel: $1,000 annually ($400 mileage, $300 lodging, $150 meals, $150 meeting fees) to permit coordinator participation in UW System nontraditional student and veteran s service meetings. Other: Space Remodeling: Costs to convert currently vacant space in UW-Superior s Old Main to the needs of the center, $15,

16 University of Wisconsin System Growth Agenda Grants Program BUDGET FORM PROJECT TITLE: CATEGORY: INSTITUTION: Creating a UW-Superior Center for Nontraditional Students and Veterans Institutional Change Grant UW-Superior FY FY FY PERSONNEL SALARY Funds Cost to Funds Cost to Funds Cost to *Identify Personnel in Budget Narrative Requested Institution Requested Institution Requested Institution 1 Faculty and Academic Staff: $40, $18, $45, $18, $27, $36, Classified Staff: $13, $13, $8, $5, Limited Term Employee: 4 Research and Grad Assistants: 5 Student Workers: $20, $20, $12, $8, Other (i.e., Guest speakers, Consultants, etc): 7 Fringe Benefits $30, $8, $32, $8, $19, $21, EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES & EXPENSES Personnel Salary Sub Total: $104, $26, $111, $26, $66, $70, Briefly identify items. Justify each in Budget Narrative detailing travel (i.e., mileage, meals, lodging) 1 Equipment: $8, Supplies & Expenses: $2, $2, $1, $1, Other (describe): Space remodeling $15, Supplies & Expenses Sub Total: PROJECT FUNDING TOTALS: $25, $0.00 $2, $0.00 $1, $1, $130, $26, $113, $26, $68, $71,

17 Peter D. Nordgren Education Ph D.in Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, M.S. in Media Technology, University of Wisconsin-Stout, B.S. in Biology, minors: Mathematics, Radio-TV-Film. University of Wisconsin-Superior, Professional experience University of Wisconsin-Superior: Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Outreach, 2010-present. Associate Dean for Distance Learning and Continuing Education, present. Interim Co-Chief Information Officer, Director, Computing and Media Services, Director, Media Resources, Media Specialist, Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor of Library Science, 1987-present University of Wisconsin-Extension: Director, Northern Media Center, WXPR Public Radio/ White Pine Community Broadcasting, Inc., Rhinelander, WI: President and General Manager, Bemidji State University: Instructor of Communication Media/Audio Services Coordinator/General Manager of KBSB-FM, Representative Presentations and Publications From the Beginning: Implementing Quality Matters Standards from Course Development to Formative Evaluation. Quality Matters National Conference, Oak Brook, IL, 2010 Values and Silos: Finding Common Purpose as Organizations Converge. Consortium of College and University Media Centers national conference, Gainesville, Florida, 2007 Using Value Disciplines in Organizational Change. EDUCAUSE Midwest conference, Chicago, 2007 Nordgren, Peter D. Developing Information Literacy Skills. Wisconsin Ideas in Media, 1991 annual. Representative Grants UW System Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion: Improving Prior Learning Assessment at UW- Superior, $123,000, UW System Collaborative Investment Program: Video System Improvements, $303,000, 1998 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Public Radio Expansion Grant, $67,000, Erlanson Hall, UW-Superior, Superior, WI

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