I recently had the opportunity to attend a brand launch for Quincy University. A team of highly regarded marketers spent six months researching our University, and interviewed over 100 members of our community, to identify core truths about our University they could use to build an authentic brand. They told us one of the truths they identified in their research is a culture of support on campus. This immediately brought to mind the University’s Student Success Center. The Student Success Center is a space on campus dedicated to peer-to-peer student support. A space our current students can’t imagine our campus without, but one that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
When I started as the Grants Writer at Quincy University back in 2011, the University had a small classroom that was converted into a Learning Resource Center on its main campus. This space was manned by a student worker and usage was tracked on a paper sign-in sheet. The center rarely had more than a few students in it, and the Director at the time was concerned this space had gotten the reputation as a remedial center, to be used only for students who were struggling. The computers were outdated, supplemental instruction sessions had to be held off site, and four students could not sit in the testing room without their chairs touching. Despite the underutilization of the center, the fact of the matter was- our students did need extra support, and they needed support more than ever. Our incoming students were less prepared to succeed in college than students were a decade ago, reflecting a trend seen across the country.
A few years later, I asked the new Dean of Academic Support what his vision was for the center, and from these discussions the Academic Success Center, which later became the J. Kenneth Nesbit Student Success Center, was born. We drew up a proposal for a student-centered, success-oriented space that would truly meet the needs of our campus. A local foundation supported our proposal and the result was a new 6,000 square foot Student Success Center in the lower level of our library.
The center not only assists underprepared students, but high performing students and students with disabilities. Student Supplemental Instructors lead large and small group study sessions in two modern classrooms equipped with smartboards and collaboration software, student tutors provide one-on-one and small group tutoring sessions in the math and English lounges, and students use the technology-equipped study rooms for collaborative projects.
The center isn’t just a shiny new space, it is a place where students gather to collaborate, learn and grow. They come here because they want to, not because they have to. In fact, last year students petitioned the University to open the center 24 hours a day due to demand- and the University complied. This is grants in action for me.
Julie Boll, GPC, is the Director of Grants for Quincy University. Julie began her career in the non-profit world as an AmeriCorps member and has worked with grants in some capacity ever since. She is a member of the Grants Professionals Association and a member of the program committee of the St. Louis chapter.