March 30, 2011
Meghan Harte has been charged with helping improve the overall academic and social experiences of students.
Rollins cares deeply about students and their experience at the College. As the College works on student success, retention, and improving our graduation rates, the Office of Student Success was developed to help students bridge gaps they encounter during their time at Rollins. The office was shaped based on review of institutions that made positive impacts in their student retention efforts. Across the country, offices of student success have been established to serve as a resource for students, parents, faculty and staff to link efforts to help improve student success from orientation through graduation.
As the new executive director of student success, Meghan Harte will take on a natural extension of her responsibilities as director of Explorations: First-Year Programs. In her expanded position, Harte wakes each day with one mission – to ensure that every student at Rollins feels cared for and experiences a deep sense of belonging.
“There are times when a student may not know where to turn to help solve an academic or college-life adjustment issue,” said Harte. “My role is to build upon the work of Explorations by expanding upon our personal relationships with students. Serving as a point-of-contact, The Office of Student Success connects students and parents to the person or department who can provide the best assistance—whether that be an academic advisor, the bursar, financial aid, student affairs, student records or others. We want to be able to positively impact the overall academic and social experiences of our students, so that they can trust that the College is primarily focused on their success and that we want them to achieve their goals and full potential.”
Students who do not feel an attachment to the College or know where to go to help solve problems they are encountering, will often decide to leave Rollins. Harte is beginning with the best place to find out what students need – the students. Through the spring, she’s setting up focus groups designed to pick students’ brains for ideas that will make Rollins even better. “These students have the most astute, insightful, heartfelt things to say,” said Harte. “When they are given the chance to dialogue and truly understand that there isn’t anything I can’t handle hearing, their input is profound.”
Harte’s also formulating a gap audit which analyzes the student experience from day one through graduation and looks for the places where support may potentially fall off. She’s participating in various Student Success and Retention Tasks Force work groups, such as Healthy Behaviors and Campus Culture, High Impact Practices, and Research and Discovery, all of which focus on fostering student success. Harte’s also studying what’s working in other colleges and devouring research and data related to student success.
“We’re not just taking wild guesses here about what we can do to increase student success,” Harte explained. “Working with the Student Success and Retention Task Force we want to make good, data-driven decisions that come from a strong theoretical and research base.”
For now, a lot of those solutions revolve around giving students who need assistance one-on-one attention, often in the form of coaching by Harte or other members of the Rollins community. Sometimes the solutions translate into policy changes. In some cases, the solution lies in cultural changes.
Whatever the proposed solution, this expanded role is perfectly situated to constantly evolve and respond to the needs of the institution. “My role will be ebbing, flowing and always be driven by what the students tell us they need,” said Harte. “Student success and retention is a campus-wide effort, and I’m accountable for ensuring that student gaps are addressed and connections are made so that we are all doing the things we know will help our students succeed and graduate from Rollins.”
Find out more about the Office of Student Success.
By Kristen Manieri
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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