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Geneseo attracts, supports, and retains an increasingly excellent body of students who grow intellectually, physically, psychologically, and socially in a safe, secure campus environment. The college has made strides in its effort to promote understanding of diversity, but in this area, there is still work to be done.
Standards addressed in this chapter
8 — Student Admissions and Retention
9 — Student Support Services
6 — Integrity (also addressed in Chapter 5)
Geneseo provides students with an integrated mix of programs and services designed to support their success as whole persons. Faculty, staff, and students take seriously the college mission to "combine a rigorous curriculum and a rich co-curricular life to create a learning-centered environment." Their collaborative efforts have created a college culture that promotes transformational learning; students grow intellectually, physically, psychologically, and socially. This culture provides a safe, secure environment, assuring that students can progress through their programs and acquire the developmental growth required for them to become responsible citizens who are successful in their careers and personal lives.
Through its admissions processes, Geneseo works to identify students who not only exhibit strong academic potential but also a desire to challenge their perspectives by seeking out alternative expressions of meaning. Geneseo realizes that once these students are admitted, it is the institution's responsibility to provide student support programs that adhere to the highest ethical standards and enable students to achieve their personal goals as well as those defined by Geneseo's mission statement. Thus, Geneseo has committed to providing its students with extra-curricular opportunities and experiences that allow them to test the boundaries of their perceptions and expand them as an extension of and complement to their formal academic experience. Our success at providing these programs can be measured by our ability to retain students and the degree of satisfaction with their education expressed by alumni and their employers.
The following discussion reviews how the admissions and student support offices foster academic engagement, personal development, and civic engagement. It also examines how well these offices exemplify and practice the qualities of integrity that Geneseo espouses and wishes to develop in its students.
Supporting entering and new students
Admission to Geneseo
The admission process selects students who will benefit from Geneseo and from one another. The three avenues of admission, including the general admission process, the Access Opportunity Programs (AOP), and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), work together to select motivated students who provide geographic, racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity that enriches the learning environment.
In 2000, 26 percent of entering first-year students achieved high school average of 95 or higher; in 2009, that percentage rose to 45 percent. SAT scores have risen over 100 points in the same amount of time. This improvement results from the success of the admissions office in promoting Geneseo's mission as a highly selective liberal arts college — one described by the New York Times as the "gem" in the SUNY system. In addition to a strong high school average and SAT scores, Geneseo requires essays from students and parents alike in order to get a more complete perspective on students and their personalities and accomplishments. Admissions also pays close attention to applicants' co-curricular activities and their service to others. The staff of the Office of Admissions understands that applicants who have endeavored to develop holistically will be the most likely to thrive at Geneseo.
As noted in Chapter 1, the college has sought to diversify the student population. As part of this effort, the college has diversified the geographic origins of its student population. In 2001, the majority of our student body came from the rural counties of the Genesee Valley and other communities in Western New York (34 percent and 19 percent, respectively); however, over the last decade, the college has increased the numbers of students coming from the state's downstate regions, including New York City and Long Island. In 2004, students from Long Island made up 11 percent of the student body, but by 2010, that percentage had increased to 18 percent, with the number of students from New York City increasing from 5 percent in 2004 to 7 percent in 2010. Despite substantial financial and regulatory obstacles, there has been a small but significant increase in the percentage of out-of-state students from 1.1 percent to 1.8 percent over the last decade (Fact Book).
The proportion of new students who have transferred from another institution has increased in the past five years from approximately 27 percent in 2004-05 to 37 percent in 2010-11. This increase is attributable to the college's recent introduction of the Guaranteed Admission Program (GAP), whereby applicants for admission to the fall term who are placed on the wait list are offered deferred admission to their choice of the following spring or fall. Students who choose the GAP option typically study elsewhere for one or two semesters and are thus classified as transfer students. (The guarantee is contingent upon achieving a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.) Last year, 186 GAP students enrolled in either the fall or spring term.
The admissions office works closely and individually with transfer students to ensure that students understand what they must accomplish in order to graduate in a timely manner. Effective November 2010, SUNY System Administration has implemented a transfer mobility program among the 64 SUNY campuses. The Office of the Registrar, Office of the Dean, and Office of Admissions at Geneseo make special efforts to guarantee that students transferring from colleges within the system receive a full appraisal of credits earned and a complete academic plan before they decide to enroll at Geneseo. A new program, You Belong, is designed specifically to aid transfer students in making the adjustment to the college.
Admission through Access Opportunity Programs and International Student and Scholar Services
Working closely with the Office of Admissions, the Access Opportunity Programs (AOP) identify academically talented students who are able and willing to make a unique contribution to Geneseo's community of learners. Geneseo AOP provides students who are under-represented in post-secondary education a way to fulfill their aspiration for higher education. The program also provides the college a means of diversifying its student body. Populations served include adult learners, students who have moved to the U.S. within the past six years, and under-represented students. The programs united under AOP – the Transitional Opportunity Program (TOP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) — serve different segments of society but are similar in providing educational access opportunities and academic support services to all participants. AOP personnel seek to foster individuality, personal responsibility, initiative, determination, and effort in their students across all academic and personal endeavors.
Because AOP admits students who do not meet the general admission requirements for SUNY Geneseo (strong high school averages and SAT scores), it is important that these students demonstrate the psychosocial skills necessary to succeed in Geneseo's highly competitive environment. These skills, combined with the programs' special support services, allow AOP students to compete academically and take advantage of opportunities for personal transformation. The director of AOP reviews all AOP applications to ensure consistency in the review process and ensure that the incoming class reflects the ethnic, racial, and geographic diversity of New York State.
Like the Access Opportunity Programs, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) works closely with the Office of Admissions to attract international students who seek to explore the many opportunities available to them at a public liberal arts college such as Geneseo. ISSS has been increasingly successful in attracting such students, nearly doubling its enrollment to 105 in the past few years despite the economic constraints faced by potential students. Students in the ISSS program have achieved high GPAs on average and have participated significantly in the social and co-curricular life of the campus. Each year, more of them participate in our local study abroad programs. In its admissions process, ISSS adheres overall to the standards expected of the general applicant population. The success of the students in this program is a testament to the care taken to admit students who will contribute to the campus even as they excel academically.
The major admissions challenges faced by the college include competition for students from institutions that offer more financial inducements, a declining pool of potential applicants in New York State, and a low return on investment for efforts to recruit students from other states. Geneseo's success in attracting highly qualified students has been hard won and has been accomplished despite the fact that only 36 need-based scholarships are offered to entering students. That students elect to attend Geneseo without the enticing scholarships and discount packages offered by many competitors suggests that they have made their decision based on the quality of Geneseo's liberal arts education. However, those competitors' continuing and increased use of financial inducements has begun to take a toll; yield rates have slipped from 29 percent to 24 percent over the last few years.
The admissions office expects to see seven continuous years of decline in the number of graduates from New York State high schools. The number of minority graduates is expected to decline at the same rate. (Nevertheless, the college now enrolls a higher percentage of underrepresented students in its new student class — 25 percent — than ever before.) The declining population of New York State high school graduates presents a challenge to the college, since historically 96 percent of Geneseo's students have come from within the state. Although many SUNY schools are seeing increased out-of-state enrollment, Geneseo's efforts in this direction have shown a minimal return on investment that is somewhat discouraging.
In light of significant reductions in funding for recruitment activities, Geneseo has chosen to redouble efforts at recruiting talent students from within New York. The current plan calls for continued recruitment across the state and increased emphasis on the metropolitan area of New York City, where the decline in high school graduates is not expected to be as precipitous as it will be upstate.
Students are introduced to Geneseo through a variety of programs designed to guarantee a smooth transition into the college's academic and social life. These programs help students explore opportunities for personal reflection and growth, civic engagement, spiritual fulfillment, and the improvement of physical well-being. They also help students learn to manage financial and other practical challenges of college life. Geneseo offers a holistic orientation that enables students to think about themselves, others, and ideas in multi-dimensional ways, in keeping with the general outlook fostered by a liberal arts education.
The orientation program is coordinated by the Office of the Dean (Academic Affairs) and the Office of the Dean of Students. Geneseo offers orientation sessions to all students entering Geneseo for the first time in the form of two transfer and five first-year sessions in the summer, one session in January, and a shorter session during the Weeks of Welcome for students who are unable to attend a summer session.
The academic aspects of orientation — including credit assessment, introduction to disciplines, and first-time advisement and registration — are coordinated by the Director of New Student Advisement. Transfer credits and placement test results are evaluated individually. While the process is cumbersome, it has been streamlined through the adoption of an electronic database of transfer equivalent courses and the addition of all student academic files to the graduation requirements database (WebCapp).
During orientation, a faculty advisor provides academic guidance and sees each student through online registration. The advisement director provides individualized, sustained advisement to students in academic difficulty and provides special workshops for students who have not yet declared a major. The Associate Dean of Students leads a discussion of activities, responsibilities, and services, and an information fair orients students to the community.
In recognition of the special needs of transfer students, the college runs two transfer orientation days in the summer and one in January. Student evaluations of these sessions are highly positive. Transfer students can see online how their earned credits will be articulated with Geneseo's courses and requirements through the aforementioned transfer equivalency database in KnightWeb (Geneseo's online registration and records system). Any course taken by any student anywhere and transferred to Geneseo is entered in the database, so future students who transfer the same course may find the articulation.
A four-week education/socialization curriculum offered by the Access Opportunity Programs has achieved very positive results for the students in those programs. In 2010, budget constraints forced the reduction of this offering to a single week. The results were not positive, and the four-week schedule was resumed in summer 2011. AOP students also participate in one of the two-day summer orientation sessions. The International Studies and Scholars program runs a separate, five-day orientation before the semester begins.
Student and parent evaluations of orientation have been very positive on the whole, although some students comment that the time devoted to academic advising and registration is too brief. The number of students who do not attend registration has slowly increased over the past five years; the Office of the Dean registers these students and offers them a two-hour mini-orientation before classes begin. However, non-attendance impedes one objective of orientation: to bring various and diverse student constituencies together and build a sense of connectedness. In response to this concern, and in an effort to explore the possibility of doing more, through orientation, to strengthen students' core academic skills, alternatives to the current orientation system are being discussed. In 2010, Provost Long and Vice President Bonfiglio jointly commissioned the Orientation Task Force to review the effectiveness of orientation and other aspects of first-year programs. The resulting recommendations are under review.
Geneseo initiated the Summer Reading Program in 2004. However, the program was suspended in fall 2010 after faculty participation and funding to support the program dwindled. To date, no plans have been made to re-structure this program. Another first-year program, the first-year interdisciplinary seminars, was suspended after 2007 due to declining funding. The first-year seminar was an elective course; with their resources stretched to the limit, few departments could commit faculty members to teaching it.
Mathematics, biology, chemistry, geological science, and physics all run their own first-year experience seminars for majors. One study of Biol 128 indicates that first-year seminars explaining the practice of the discipline provide a valuable foundation for new students entering majors in the sciences. Unfortunately, it is difficult to offer such courses consistently when staffing is limited by tight finances.
One remarkable success is the Freshman Seminar Adirondack Program offered in the summer, which combines an outdoor camping experience with academic work. The summer program is successful because it integrates an introduction to academic work at the college level with an excellent faculty/student ratio and a unique learning environment. Enrollment in this summer freshman seminar has remained healthy; student assessments of the program are excellent. Such summer programs are well worth expanding if the funds, sites, and faculty become available. In its report, the Orientation Task Force recommended that the first-year seminar and summer reading programs be reinstated; however, it also recommended that the structure of the programs be re-conceived in order to ensure faculty buy-in and integration into the college fabric in a more far-reaching, consistent, and thematic fashion. The newly appointed Director of First-Year Programs has already begun to collaborate with both the Office of Admissions and the Office of the Dean to create innovative programs to enhance the experience of Geneseo's new-student population.
Geneseo has incorporated a number of high-impact transformational practices into students' first year at the college, mainly through Intd 105, the required first-year general education course on critical writing and reading. Intd 105 provides a shared introductory experience; the course is, by its nature, writing intensive; sections are seminar-size. Departures from these ideals are inevitable, but minor: some transfer students bring a course similar to Intd 105 from a previous institution and thus do not take the course here; a handful of students are allowed to take the course later than the first year; and section sizes have fluctuated over the years. The course is generally capped at 22 students; there has been limited success in trying to reduce the cap to 19. (Master Schedule Archives.) Enrollment is higher in the fall (usually 22) than the spring (usually 20).
Consistent with the mission of the office and the ideal of transformational learning, Residence Life has developed programs to help students become integrated into campus and integrate their experiences on it. First- and second-year students are required to live on campus; they have a variety of living experiences to choose from. These include standard dormitory rooms, apartment-style townhouses, and three theme-based residence halls known as residential college houses (RC's). The themes represented in the RC houses are civic engagement (Dante House), writing (Writers House), and sustainability and social justice (EcoHouse). The Residence Life staff is soliciting student opinions for developing additional such houses. The matching of students to their desired environment has been largely successful.
Residence Life has been instrumental in developing transitional programs for students in collaboration with academic offices, integrating academics into the residence halls through its inclusion of faculty and staff in its programs. "You Belong," an advisement program designed to assist with the academic and social transition of transfer students, was introduced in 2009. The program has won awards at the state level and national attention in a featured highlight in the American College Personnel Association e-newsletter. Residence Life also offers pre-registration advising sessions in the residence halls each semester in cooperation with the Office of the Dean of Curriculum and Student Services. The college plans to continue its development of theme-based residential facilities over the next few years. Programming developed through a collaboration between Residential Life and the Office of the Dean of Curriculum and Student Services is also expanding.
The Office of Financial Aid helps ensure that all students admitted to Geneseo have access to a transformational education by connecting those in financial need with available resources. The office works closely with students and families to explore such resources as federal and state grants, scholarships, student loans, and student employment. The office also offers advice on alternative loans, payment plans, and outside scholarship opportunities. Approximately 60 percent of Geneseo students receive need-based financial aid, though the college does not itself award aid based on either need or merit.
Geneseo scholarships are needed to assist students who qualify for state and federal assistance and those who do not. Both the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Admissions are concerned that the lack of such scholarships is impeding efforts to attract the most talented students.
The financial aid office has been particularly successful at informing students and other offices about changes in state and federal financial aid policy. This cooperation has helped reduce the number of advising errors related to financial aid and student enrollment issues, and it has helped the college retain students despite a particularly difficult economic environment.
Supporting students' academic engagement and personal development
Dean of Curriculum and Academic Services
The Office of the Dean is charged with evaluating transfer credits relevant to the Geneseo curriculum, organizing initial advisement of new students, and maintaining the college's standards of academic performance. Students who fail to meet the academic standards are placed on probation or dismissed from the college. The office assists students in academic difficulty and guides them through the appeals procedures necessary to petition for special consideration or resolve issues relevant to their academic performance. The office also oversees the readmission of students. From one perspective, the office functions as an "academic triage" center, fielding telephone calls and walk-in visits from faculty, students, staff, and administrators. Collectively, the deans in this office have approximately 700 scheduled appointments per semester. While most students meet with a professional staff member from the Office of the Dean once or twice to clarify an academic issue, others have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly scheduled appointments in an effort to keep them focused on their academic programs. On any given day in the dean's office, many students also receive help in informal interactions that are not officially documented.
Over the past five years, the Office of the Dean has worked to develop program assessments whose analysis has profoundly affected decision-making. For example, assessing the needs of transfer students led to cooperation with the Office of Residential Life on their "You Belong" series to better orient transfer students, as well as to the creation of the Transfer Articulation Database. A massive database tracking the academic history and subsequent performance of transfer students has allowed the college to communicate data on the success of transfer students to primary feeder institutions. The office has purchased a kiosk where any student who visits dean's office staff, including staff of the Office of Disability Services, can take a satisfaction survey. The kiosk's close proximity to the Office of Study Abroad will allow that office to use its capabilities as well. The Office of the Dean periodically surveys students on advisement satisfaction, providing valuable information about the success of various advisement initiatives. In spring 2011, a survey on registration issues was also conducted for the first time; the results will generate further enhancements to the system this year.
Although the Office of the Dean has not been designated as the primary coordinator of advisement activities on campus, it is responsible for new student advisement, particularly as concerns orientation and first-year registration. In addition, it is the de facto advisement hub for all constituents of the college and gives the final word on matters of academic policy and procedure. While the different offices involved in advisement collaborate well for the promotion of advisement activities, some logistical and organizational difficulties could be addressed through centralization. In the last round of budget cuts, the office lost its rotating associate dean position. The Office of the Dean has developed somewhat haphazardly over the years in response to changing campus needs. (Both the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Disability Services report to the Dean of Curriculum and Academic Services.) In this context, the provost is rethinking the function of the office.
The faculty are the principal student advisors of the college. Academic units assign advisees to full-time faculty, and in many cases faculty volunteer to serve in an advisory capacity to numerous clubs and organizations on campus. Students who have declared a major are assigned to an adviser in the major department and may switch advisers if another faculty member is a more suitable adviser for the student's interests. Those who have not yet declared a major are assigned an adviser by the Office of the Dean. Continuing students may self-advise; however, students are encouraged to consult with their advisors on a regular basis. Only those who are on academic probation, are new students, or who have been admitted through the AOP program are required to see an advisor before they register. The Office of the Dean is currently developing online interactive advisement tutorials for both students and faculty.
Geneseo's last self-study reported that despite substantial faculty involvement in academic and co-curricular advisement, students expressed "dissatisfaction with the value of information provided by advisors" (SUNY Alumni Outcomes survey, 1999). In the same report, a senior survey showed that students were satisfied with the helpfulness and accessibility of faculty. A recommendation of the self-study was to establish "outcomes and assessment procedures for academic advising." Later results from the Student Opinion Survey (SOS) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) indicated that students rate their advisement experience as generally unsatisfactory and that Geneseo ranked lower than comparable SUNY institutions on advisement.
In an effort to understand the nature and scope of the problem, former Provost Katherine Conway-Turner commissioned an advisement task force in 2006 to examine the system of advisement at Geneseo. The task force concluded that "a college-wide problem does not exist within the present advisement system at Geneseo"; however, it concluded that career advisement is an area of weakness and recommended that advising shift from a prescriptive assessment of progress to a developmental approach focused on achievement of educational, career, and life goals. A final report was published in 2007 containing a series of recommendations to improve the general quality of advisement on campus. Chief among there were:
- promotion and support of advisement as a campus priority by college administration
- explicit consideration of advisement as a subcategory of teaching in faculty evaluations
- department development of strategies and self-assessment to improve advisement practices
- faculty involvement in workshops and other means to improve their skills
The task force asserted that "more comprehensive policy and practices" need to be communicated to all parties involved in the advisement process at Geneseo.
Some progress has been made on the task force recommendations. The formal advisement period for registration has been lengthened, and many improvements have been made to the online registration system. For example, before 2009 students registered during a one-to-several week period and could not change their schedules until the first week of classes. Though a source of frustration to some students, this process prevented excessive movement into and out of classes and protected faculty from being pestered with requests to enter closed classes. As of fall 2009, the registration period has remained open longer, but students cannot overload until the first week of classes. The policy provides more flexibility to students while continuing to shield faculty from student appeals. The added flexibility allows students more opportunity to structure class schedules aligned with the the recommendations that they have been given by their advisers.
The Office of the Dean has actively encouraged students through emails, personal appeals, and one-on-one sessions to meet with their advisors. At the same time, faculty development opportunities for new and continuing faculty have helped to improve faculty commitment to advisement. Student Opinion Survey results from 2010 indicate that students are more satisfied with their advisement experience than they were three years ago. However, much remains to be accomplished. One recommendation of the Provost's Task Force on Advising (2007) was to purchase software designed specifically for advisement functions across offices on campus. To that end, SUNY System Administration has licensed DegreeWorks, which will be implemented in 2011-12. The Office of the Dean is working with various departments across campus to develop online training modules with DegreeWorks for faculty and other staff advisors.
The recommendations of the advising task force have not all been carried out; if faculty are to realize the transformative potential of what Donald Harward has called eudemonic learning ("the fuller realization of the learner, the actualizing of the person’s potential — classically to achieve individual well-being and happiness"), advisement processes will require more attention from the college. Fortunately, the task force also discovered that a large majority (83 percent) of faculty believe that advisement is an appropriate use of their time and believe in providing thorough academic advisement.
There is no central office coordinating the tutoring that serves students across multiple departments and programs. Nor, with the exception of the Supplemental Instruction Program (which originated in the Access Opportunity Programs (AOP), has there been any consistent assessment of the effectiveness of learning centers or tutoring activities. Learning centers in mathematics, biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and geology are well attended, but the tutoring there is restricted mainly to students in first-year courses, many of which are for general education. For assistance with other courses, departments keep informal lists of student tutors. The English department's Writing Learning Center, operated by trained tutors, stands apart in this respect. AOP, too, uses paid, trained tutors, and the office maintains a comprehensive tutoring program.
There was a short-lived attempt to address the needs of English as a Second Language students with the creation of an ESL Center. Unfortunately, this center became an early victim of the recent budget cuts.
With coordination provided by the Office of the Provost, in 2010-11 Milne Library, the English department, AOP, and and the Office of Disability Services created a one-stop instructional support center, the Milne Writing and Learning Center. This center federates the services previously provided in separate locations by each of these entities. Still in its nascent stages, the center provides tutoring in writing augmented with professional help developing research skills. Space is provided for individual tutoring sessions. The center also provides a sorely needed space for testing. A committee is developing a set of policies, goals, and assessment strategies for this new center so that the college can take a more coordinated approach to tutoring in the future.
Special note must be taken of the AOP supplemental instruction program for Chem 211, Chem 116, Biol 117, Biol 119 and Math 112. This program, exemplary for both its organization and its self-assessment, has provided quality tutoring in conjunction with the faculty who teach the courses. Trained student tutors have successfully completed key math and science courses. They attend class with new students and meet with them outside class to review material. The quality of this program is of a piece with that of AOP's general student tutoring program. Unfortunately, funding for the program was reduced substantially in the 2011 round of budget cuts. The program would serve as a model for a more inclusive approach should funding be restored and/or expanded.
Access Opportunity Programs (AOP)
Through relationships with the administration, faculty, and staff, the Office of Access Opportunity Programs encourages and facilitates co-curricular opportunities for students, enabling them to become, in the words of the college's mission, "socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world." Towards that end, the office sponsors a variety of support services that help students understand their own role in flourishing at a liberal arts institution. These support and developmental services include
- outstanding academic advisement services across academic disciplines;
- innovative student development workshops geared towards intellectual, career, and social development;
- counselor/student ratios that allow for the creation of an environment of support and cooperation;
- personal development initiatives and programs geared towards developing the whole student.
Of particular note are the office's efforts in recent years to create initiatives for student development. For example, the Women's Leadership Institute (WLI), was established in fall 2007. While the institute was generated by AOP and thus serves minority and economically disadvantaged women, it is committed to providing all female students with experiences and skills that will help them network and evolve in professional environments. Large professional development workshops with guest speakers take place four times a year. After the initial successful year for WLI, AOP quickly followed with the Men Incorporating Leadership Empowerment and Service (MILES) program. As with WLI, MILES membership is open to anyone at the college who wishes to become involved in leadership in diverse company. Both programs create activities that benefit the school and student body, even as they improve the image, leadership qualities, professional development, and communications skills of the participants.
International Student and Scholar Services
The mission of the ISSS is to attend to the welfare and success of Geneseo's visiting international students and faculty members. Over the last few years, Geneseo has significantly increased the number of international students, with a representation of approximately 27 countries at any given time. In 2011, there are 150 international students enrolled. To better support these students the office has reorganized and extended its orientation and cross-cultural adjustment programs.The international students contribute greatly to the experiences of American students, and a number of them have increased their participation by choosing to live in Dante House, a residential college house devoted to entering students who are from other countries, and entering Edgar Fellows Program students.
The ISSS also serves in a regulatory and advisory capacity for students relative to immigration regulation and serves as a liaison with administrative offices, academic departments, and residential facilities.It also acts as a liaison between the State Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and foreign and U.S. Embassies and Consulates.The quality of the programs offered by ISSS has resulted in high retention rates and GPAs, as well as significant participation in student co-curricular and social activities. Academic advising of ISSS students is the result of successful collaborations between faculty advisors, the Office of the Dean, and the ISSS office.
Office of the Registrar
Over the past few years, the registrar has been active in developing technology to help faculty advise students. In part this development was a response to the Advisement Task Force, but in any case the office was significantly behind in the use of technology. New technological enhancements have included added features within KnightWeb (picture class rosters, advisee transcripts), streamlined processes for course withdrawals and grade changes, and improvements to the degree audit application. The office has created an advisory committee to solicit ideas for improvement from the college community. The committee's discussions led to a restructuring of the schedule for various student cohort registrations and the creation of an online course withdrawal system.
One area of continuing concern is the scheduling of classes and the effective use of classroom space. In 2008, attempting to limit course conflicts for students, the dean of the college sought to fit all courses within standard time blocks. In 2009, the dean and the registrar conducted an analysis of time and space use across campus and disciplines. This analysis and another at the state level (see both the Facilities Plan and the State Architect's Report) indicate that Geneseo's scheduling of class times and classroom space needs improvement. Because scheduling is decentralized, occurring at the department level, efforts to improve the situation, though ongoing, are slow. The dean's office has been working with academic departments as they develop course schedules to ensure that at course start-times, at least, fit within standard blocks and that course times are spread through the day and over the week. Nevertheless, when students were surveyed on registration in 2010, what most dissatisfied them was class conflicts due to the compressed time schedule. Upper-level administrators who have a more global view of the process need to collaborate with the academic departments who are focused on the needs of their own students and staff to fully resolve this problem.
The Office of Career Services provides resources for job-searching, résumé and cover letter writing, graduate school planning, career self-assessment, placement file processing and on-campus recruiting. Career Services serves all students and collaborates to a large degree with the School of Education and the School of Business. Its collaboration with ALANA (African American, Latino, Asian, Native American) students derives from participation in access opportunity programs. In 2011, for the Emerald certificate offered in conjunction with the GOLD program, the career services office ran 28 workshops with 690 participants. Students expressed a high level of satisfaction with all programs. The annual graduate school fair is highly regarded by participating college representatives. While feedback is purely anecdotal, the program is extremely well received and well attended. Alliances with key constituencies are common, as reported in the end-of-year reports. In 2010, the department created the Alumni Relations Board Career Services Subcommittee to increase student interaction with successful alumni. In addition, career services staff responded to changes in the job market by becoming better equipped to advise students about federal employment and by using technology more effectively.
The career services office actively participates in the Rochester Area Career Development Association and would like to increase its participation in state and national organizations. Such participation would stimulate creativity in the staff and the department's programs.
One area that remains a challenge is internships. The School of Education and other academic departments have internship coordinators and sponsor a number of students, but there the college has no central internship office. An opportunity to hire a staff person to assist with growth in this area was rescinded because of budget cuts. In any given semester, approximately 150 students participate in internships through career services. (The number is lower in the summer.) As an essential activity desired by employers, internships deserve more attention.
The director of career services recently retired; a new director has just been named. A detailed benchmarking study was conducted comparing SUNY Geneseo's Office of Career Services to information in a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The office is understaffed for an institution with approximately 5,000 undergraduates.
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation is built on three pillars of success: in the classroom, in competition, and in connecting with and contributing to campus spirit and the local community. The department offers opportunities for student engagement and individual development consistent with Geneseo's values as a liberal arts college. Geneseo sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports for women and 8 for men, competing in the NCAA Division III and the SUNY Athletic Conference (SUNYAC).
Approximately 400 of Geneseo's students (7.5 percent) participate in intercollegiate athletics. The college is offering as many athletic programs as resources will allow. In number of sports programs offered, Geneseo is in the top third of the 10 colleges in its SUNYAC Conference — despite the fact that in size, it is in the bottom third.
The success of student-athletes in the classroom is demonstrated by a number of metrics, including the annual percentage of Geneseo student-athletes who have received the Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award.
- In the last five years Geneseo students have earned 42 percent of these awards, although they only make up 10 percent of the total number of student-athletes in the SUNYAC.
- The graduation rate of recruited "special-talent" student-athletes in the past five years is 100 percent.
- In the past five years, Geneseo teams have captured 27 conference championships, finishing second in the conference each year for overall program success in competition.
Over 80 percent of Geneseo's students participate in intramural, club, and college-sponsored recreational sports activities (Student and Campus Life Reports). As a result, athletics has the opportunity to be a transformational experience for a significant portion of Geneseo students — and not through competition alone. Seeing themselves as advocates of championship in all arenas, the athletic programs have fostered a program of "community championship." Geneseo athletics has won recognition for the number of community service projects and hours of service performed, being named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and receiving the Josten's Community Service Award and the Section V Service Award.
Athletic programs and intercollegiate play provide social opportunities and promote health and wellness by providing facilities, personal fitness trainers, and a variety of non-credit classes. Leadership opportunities for all student athletes are a high priority, and a well-structured Student Athletic Advisory Committee provides an opportunity to schedule community service projects, converse with the athletic administration about the budget and student/athlete welfare issues, and take part in SUNYAC leadership activities. Student athletes also volunteer their time during student move-in days.
Geneseo is one of three SUNYAC members that weathered an NCAA citation for unintentionally violating financial aid policies. Legal counsel argued that the same aid provided to all Geneseo international students should be available to international student-athletes. (This aid mitigates the cost of out-of-state tuition and promotes the growth of Geneseo's international student enrollment.) In essence, the NCAA has now compelled the college to discriminate against international student-athletes in the awarding of financial aid. The department and the college are committed to avoiding even minor violations of NCAA regulations; it has enhanced procedures for monitoring compliance.
Although athletes are required to attend regular study sessions, there is currently no formal system to provide the academically at-risk ones with tutoring. Plans to include athletes in the new Milne learning center are under discussion.
Affected by the financial constraints on the institution as a whole, the department has been unable to elevate its womens' crew club to intercollegiate status as planned. Nevertheless, the basketball court was recently refurbished and construction of a new stadium has been planned.
Like the rest of the college, the athletics department makes every effort to recruit underrepresented students; however, continued improvement is needed in this area.
Despite these limitations, the college continues to offer a robust program of intercollegiate and intramural athletics in keeping with its mission to provide a "rich co-curricular life."
Supporting students' community engagement
Center for Community
The Center for Community develops programs in response to community needs and promotes students' professional and civic development. The Center for Community includes the following offices:
- Dean of Students
- Multicultural Programs and Services
- GOLD Leadership Program
- Student Volunteerism and Service Learning
- Greek Affairs
- Off-Campus Living
- Orientation and First-Year Programs
- Student Conduct and Community Standards.
The Center for Community's annual departmental reports indicate a sustained effort to address holistically the needs of all students. Of particular note are programs like Bystander Intervention Training; F2F (Face 2 Face) Discussions; and Stand Up for One Another, awarded the 2010 Collaborative Program of the Year Award by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and the SUNY Outstanding Student Affairs Program Award. There are data to indicate that the programs have increased student leaders' ability to "clearly define bystander Intervention, thereby increasing awareness of bystander behavior for all students in health and social justice issues."
Office of Multicultural Programs and Services
The mission of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services (OMPS) is to promote the development and civic engagement of students, heightening their awareness of diversity and helping them to become inclusive, respectful members of society. Specific attention is given to ALANA students. These values receive particular emphasis during Cultural Harmony Week.
The core strengths of the office are demonstrated through its collaborative relationships. For example, during 2009-10 OMPS engaged in programs with approximately 15 departments and offices; over 3,500 students attended its programs. Another indication of OMP's success is the coordinator's appointment as the college's representative to the Consortium on High Achievement and Success. Geneseo is the first public college invited to join. Membership will give Geneseo access to research, assessment tools, grants, and development programs for students, faculty, and staff focused on inclusion and institutional change.
Geneseo has a long tradition of volunteerism. The Office of Student Volunteerism and Service Learning helps students find a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. An average of 4,100 students volunteer annually — individually, as part of a group, or as part of a class. Student participation in Livingston CARES deserves particular mention. The program is a partnership between the college and Livingston County that offers opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to help with reconstruction efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) provides additional opportunities for volunteering.
Approximately 12 percent of Geneseo's students participate in Greek life. Although most of the fraternities and sororities are local rather than national organizations, all include service and philanthropy in their missions. Greek life attracts a number of students whose high academic achievement has earned them membership in the Order of Omega, a Greek academic honor society that has inducted 350 Geneseo students since it was chartered at Geneseo in 1993.
Students activities, clubs, and organizations
Geneseo provides a wide spectrum of student activities and programs. The college has 210 clubs and organizations. In 2009-10, 13 new organizations were created. Together with the 22 Greek sororities and fraternities, the College Union Office, the Center for Community, student leadership programs, campus recreation, Student Government Association, and the Interfaith Center, these provide a wealth of opportunities for student participation, interaction, and transformation. Geneseo's Calendar of Events testifies to the wealth of these opportunities. Information on Geneseo's many organizations may be found on the Campus Union and Activities website.
Supporting students' health and safety
Health and counseling
The mission of the Office of Health and Counseling is to provide optimal health, well being, and development by providing high quality, integrated, holistic health services. The office is staffed by professionals who provide students with comprehensive outpatient care. Health and Counseling Services collaborates closely with other departments and directly with college staff and faculty. Office staff also provide a wide range of services in counseling and psychological services, a variety of programs in wellness education, and referral services that supply specialized information on alcohol and drug use, STD's, HIV, body image, nutrition, and smoking.
Health and Counseling has developed or instituted a number of programs designed to increase students' sense of community responsibility to each other on health-related matters. For example, Red Watch Band trains students to recognize and intervene when a student requires medical assistance due to toxic drinking. Using a bystander intervention model as well as a non-judgmental approach enables students to learn to become ethical, responsible members of society. Other programs emphasize promoting behaviors consistent with a healthy lifestyle and teaching students through direct experience how to become advocates for their own health and wellness and that of others. Through these programs, office staff work to transform students while at Geneseo from adolescents to adults in the management of their health.
With the hiring of a new administrative director in 2010, the entire department was charged with evaluating all aspects of service to students. This assessment included the use of student satisfaction surveys, informal focus groups, and serious self-reflection. As a result, four major changes will occur:
- a new intake procedure
- a new, coordinated and organized approach to outreach education
- a reconfiguration of the lobby
- an alteration of the role of the nurses, who will be cross-trained
The center has been accredited since 2003 by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. This voluntary accreditation measures the quality of services and performance against nationally recognized standards. Geneseo is currently in process of re-accreditation, and the association's surveyors are expected to be on campus in January 2012.
The Office of Disability Services provides both physical and academic accommodations to ensure students equitable success to all programs and activities on campus in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and New York State human rights law. The office also provides prospective students, their parents, and community members with information related to access and possible accommodations. Disability Services assists approximately 250 students who have physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities, including those whose physical or chronic syndromes require special housing or dietary consideration. Accommodations are also available to temporarily disabled students. Students understand that the office has an open door policy, and they regularly take advantage of the policy to drop in and discuss challenges or to ask for advisement (both academic and personal). The office consults with approximately 35-40 students a week on a walk-in basis in addition to the students who have scheduled one-on-one weekly appointments to work on time management and organizational skills. Disability Services works closely with students, parents, and care providers, when necessary, to ensure that students are managing their disabilities as advantageously as possible.
Students and faculty have expressed concerns that the office does not provide enough help with test-taking services. The office is currently overseeing specialized testing because, regrettably, Geneseo has had no centralized learning center previous to the one being created in Milne Library. Students are advised about available services, but a single location would be particularly beneficial to students with disabilities. While Disability Services staffs the office with proctors and has assumed all administrative responsibility necessary to maintain the integrity of the testing process, some faculty have expressed concern that some of the tests are proctored by students. Faculty also wish that the office would advocate more strongly on the question of physical conditions faced by students in the classroom (for example, a lack of appropriate seating) and on campus.
Disability Services has been engaged in a year-long initiative with Career Services and the Disability Career Office at the University of Tennessee to help college students with disabilities compete successfully for employment. In association with a faculty member from Geneseo's School of Education, the office has also developed the LIVES program for individuals with intellectual disabilities, enabling them to participate on campus for four years in a college-like experience. Assessment for the first graduating class will occur this year.
Geneseo participates in the New York Alert system, which notifies students, faculty, and staff by e-mail, voicemail, and text message in case of a campus emergency. All residence halls are equipped with card-swipe entry security, and the campus maintains a police department, University Police.
Students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct mandated by the State of New York, which was reviewed and amended in 2009 and is currently being reviewed again to meet new guidelines handed down by the Office of Civil Rights. Geneseo has clearly publicized policies and procedures concerning student discipline and systems of appeal. The college conducts a biennial review of its compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.
Student clubs and organizations are bound by precepts detailed in the Clubs and Organizations Handbook. FERPA regulations are widely publicized, and the college's approach to interpretation of FERPA guidelines has been conservative, with the college preferring to err on the side of the student.
Every college office providing student support services has on its website a statement of mission and purpose that reflects the college's mission, as well as internal documents that do the same. Each of these websites offers a clear pathway for students to find a prompt, appropriate, and equitable answer to their concerns.
A good example of how Geneseo responds to issues of integrity is the aforementioned violation by the athletics department. When the college was one of three SUNYAC members cited for violating financial aid policies, the violation was met with a firm determination to avoid even minor violations of NCAA regulations through enhanced monitoring.
Conclusion and recommendations
Strengths and challenges
Informed by a strong commitment to equity and integrity, Geneseo's admissions process reflects the college's emphasis on transformational learning by seeking students who have excelled in areas not measured by test scores and grade point averages. These students have distinguished themselves through personal growth initiatives, community service, creative thinking, personal wellness, and a willingness to see the world in which they live both globally and from a variety of perspectives. The match between students and the college mission is evident in Geneseo's 92 percent year-to-year retention rate.
Both academic and student services programs support the college's goal of developing students holistically. The success of these efforts is corroborated by the survey responses of alumni and the employers of alumni.
Over the past five years, the admissions process has produced classes of increasing excellence. Geneseo students participate in the college's wide variety of programs in increasing numbers. Academic and student support services, together with admissions and other offices involved in retention, model the rigor, integrity, and perspectives that they wish students to adopt.
All areas of student support services should consistently use methods such as benchmarking, full-program reviews, visits from external teams, and participation in national studies. Moreover, it is important to close the loop on this assessment through the institutional effectiveness process described in Chapter 6.
- Support the Office of Admissions in its effort to recruit out-of-state students in order to produce stronger revenue streams and enhance campus geographic diversity despite current budgetary constraints. Additional scholarship funding is needed to attract the best and the brightest from New York state and beyond.
- Designate a home for advising. It is recommended that a person/office be assigned as the logistical and operational center for all advisement efforts, including carrying out the recommendations of the Advisement Task Force. Since this activity falls primarily under academic support services, and since the office is already carrying out many of the duties associated with student advisement, it is recommended that this task fall to the Office of the Dean of the College.
- Designate one area that can organize and support current and future internship initiatives. Currently, internships are managed by three separate areas: individual departments, career services, and the Office of the Dean of the College.
- Assign the task of coordinating and improving tutoring services to one office or person. Tutoring is managed by a number of offices on campus, but there is no centralized authority that can organize Geneseo's efforts efficiently.
- Improve outcomes/assessment cycles for all student and academic support services entities. Many have not yet closed the loop on assessment.
- Review, re-structure and develop First-Year Programs.
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I would argue that transfer students, particularly those coming to Geneseo with an associates degree from a community college, have a VERY difficult time their first year. I would suggest that addressing their concerns and issues be added to the recommendations.