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EGCC joins ‘Caring Campus Initiative’ launch

From staff reports

STEUBENVILLE — Eastern Gateway Community College is one of 10 community colleges across the nation to incorporate the Caring Campus Initiative into their student success efforts for the fall 2019 semester.

According to college officials, the school is working with the Institute for Evidence-Based Change to incorporate the initiative.

Supported by IEBC coaching and guidance, staff teams at EGCC engage in work developing specific behavioral commitments, helping staff to better connect with, and support, students to help them reach their educational goals.

“We’re excited to start making a difference for our college and students,” said EGCC President Jimmie Bruce. “If we all work better, together, the overall campus environment will improve and the entire college community will be happier and more positive. This kind of change should help attract more students and boost our enrollment. If we can build a culture of caring for our students, we should improve student success metrics significantly.”

Funded through a $1 million grant from Ascendium Education Group, one of the nation’s leading higher education philanthropies, the objective of IEBCs Caring Campus program is to increase student retention and success in community colleges by creating and cultivating Caring Campus environments through the intentional inclusion of all staff in student success efforts.

Under the grant, IEBC will work with 20 colleges across the nation including EGCC during the next two years. Each campus agrees to participate in the Caring Campus Initiative, a coaching-based approach ensuring all staff play a role in enabling students to achieve success. The second group of 10 colleges will begin work in spring 2020.

“Who do students meet first on campus? It’s the staff,” said IEBC President and CEO Brad Phillips. “With Caring Campus, they encounter a warm, welcoming, friendly environment with staff professionals who are glad they’re there.”

The Caring Campus approach covers a semester of intensive work with IEBC coaches who meet with staff teams, returning every three weeks. “You have to go back to your department, share what’s happened, and then get feedback,” said Phillips. “This is what starts the next meeting. ‘What did we learn? What do we need to change?’ They involve colleagues and supervisors. It’s an intensive process.”

“Caring Campus is designed to leverage and enhance a college’s existing student success efforts, with little to no cost to the institution to implement these interventions,” Phillips said. “Smiles don’t cost anything. Asking a student his or her name doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have to buy software, or build a building.”

Research has documented students leaving college because they do not feel connected to the institution. Caring Campus recognizes and leverages the value of connectedness for increasing the likelihood that students will continue towards, and succeed in attaining, their educational goals.

“Our Ascendium-funded program is tapping an under-utilized resource for colleges. Staff will be forever changed in the way they see their role as they are integrated into student success efforts,” said Phillips. “What happens: staff satisfaction goes up because they are making connections with students and their colleagues, connections that would have otherwise not been made.”

Staff interaction with students can set the stage for successful enrollment, persistence, and completion.

It is particularly important for students from historically underserved populations, students less familiar with college, non-majority students, students from low-income households, and first-generation students to feel welcome and that they belong in college.

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