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North Carolina Central U Joins Initiative Focused on First-Year Students To Boost Academic Success

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has joined the Re-Imagining the First Year of College (RFY) project, an initiative that aims to improve academic success for undergraduate students by transforming the first year of higher education.

RFY is a three-year project launched by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) that "assists 43 participating colleges and universities, including NCCU, in implementing changes that enhance the first-year student experience and increase student retention and graduation rates, particularly among historically underserved populations," according to a news release. "NCCU representatives will attend national conferences and educational webinars, receive one-on-one mentoring, access online tools and resources and share ideas, successful strategies and lessons learned with other participating colleges and universities."

Existing programs designed to encourage success for students in their first year at NCCU include:

  • Eagle Mania, a collection of move-in day events and activities designed to welcome new students to campus and educate them about the school and surrounding community;
  • A new scholarship program launching in the fall, dubbed The Chancellor's Cycle of Success, for new undergrads who have demonstrated academic excellence; and
  • The NCCU Finish Line initiative, an academic support program that provides funding designed to allow students to attend classes for a semester past their intended graduation date in an effort to boost graduation rates.

As it joins RFY, the university will add to those programs with evidence-based strategies focused on curriculum, faculty and staff roles, "institutional intentionality" and student roles.

"North Carolina Central University's selection as one of the 43 institutions in the Re-Imagining the First Year of College program is an honor," said Chancellor Debra Saunders-White in a prepared statement. "Our inclusion recognizes our leadership and achievements in increasing student enrollment, outperforming all UNC schools in 2015-16, and growing our rate of retention from 69.9 percent to 80 percent in just two years. We look forward to our first-year college professionals' continued exposure to best practices that will impact NCCU student engagement and four-year completion rate."

"We are pleased that these AASCU institutions will commit their enormous talent and knowledge to the success of this initiative, which I believe will have a profound effect on undergraduate education in the 21st century," said George Mehaffy, vice president for academic leadership and change at AASCU, in a news release. "The state colleges and universities we selected for RFY represent a broad swath of the institutional landscape and exhibit strong leadership and other qualities that are conducive to effecting broad-scale and sustainable change. Together, with the engagement of all campus stakeholders — from students to academic leadership — we will strive to transform the first-year student experience and ensure student success."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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