by Laura Huenneke, Provost

Earlier this week I participated in an Arizona Town Hall evaluating Arizona’s higher education sector. Most of the topics discussed are very familiar to us at NAU—the need to improve movement of students between institutions, especially from community college to university; the need to ensure access through online and low-cost options (like NAU-Yavapai); and the need to improve the success of those students who do come to our programs.

One of our major strides this past year has been the integration of retention and student success initiatives in the University College.

University College was launched in 2012 following several years of campus conversation about how to make further gains in student achievement and progression to graduation. UC is charged with advancing undergraduate education on the Flagstaff campus, with an emphasis on the first-year learning experience.

UC programs support the transition to college and create learning environments (in formal instruction and outside the classroom) that promote student engagement, academic achievement and career goal setting. Programs such as first-year seminars, coaching, career services and the Bachelor of University Studies enhance student learning at all levels. UC was designed to bring together people and programs to increase collaboration and the positive impacts on students. The college is committed to assessment to ensure that programs produce the desired results. UC will produce an annual report and will undergo a comprehensive review after five years.

A growing cadre of faculty, staff and students is affiliated with the University College. This collaborative community is generating and testing ideas that will be useful to programs throughout the university. UC events such as town halls and presentations are opportunities for all of us to learn more about the college and glimpse what it’s like to be a part of a new, innovative space for work at NAU.