New Path to Success

UMKC opens new Student Success Center

Goal Number 1 of the UMKC Strategic Plan is to “place student success at the center.” With the opening of the Student Success Center, this goal is being realized.

The $7 million project remade the former University Center into a facility designed to promote students’ academic success by providing academic support, stress relief and improved service, all in one open, inviting, easy-to-access space. It is home to a variety of programs and services, including Career Services, the International Student Affairs Office, the Welcome Center and the Writing Studio.

The newly renovated Center opened on Aug. 1 and offered a different look and feel when students returned for classes. Huge windows replaced the blank walls; white and blue interior walls feature words of encouragement, such as achievement, success, collaboration and discovery, gently urging students toward thoughts of graduation.

Tira Gilroy, a junior majoring in health sciences, likes the new facility and one of her favorite areas is the new bank of computers and the open space around them.

“More students have access to the computers and can now look out at the trees and the flowers – there’s a calming effect, a very comfortable place to study and hang out.”

Students can study, take care of their required paperwork and take classes without leaving the SSC.

UMKC Central and the University College

Two new programs – UMKC Central and the University College – will provide greater assistance to students, making college life a little easier and a little more engaging.

UMKC Central offers staff that is cross-trained in cashier, financial aid, admissions, records and registrar functions. These requirements can be addressed by stopping at one station, speaking with one representative, thereby making it much easier – and less confusing – for students to complete administrative paperwork.

In a row of computers right inside the Holmes Street entrance, three staff members offer help to new students.

“At UMKC Central, students get assistance from cross-trained staff, providing a convenient portal for supporting students, eliminating the need to travel to numerous offices for each service,” said Mel Tyler, vice chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

“It’s awesome. I like how the services are consolidated and how the departments are in one central location. It’s really helpful,” said sophomore Daniel Beeman, a mass communications major. “The structure mirrors the Student Union – cohesive, brings it all together. It’s really, really cool.”

University College assists incoming undeclared students, or continuing students in transition between majors, in making the best decisions regarding their academic plans. Cross-college advising and participation of faculty from across the university will be vital in helping students identify their major, as well as connect with the appropriate academic unit.

“Our mission is to offer every exploratory student the opportunity for success through engagement with faculty and staff, the development of educational plans and the clarification of career and life goals,” said Kim McNeley, Ph.D., associate vice provost, Academic Affairs.

Part of Dr. McNeley’s goal is to bridge the gap undeclared students often feel, lacking a “home” within the university that students with declared majors find within their academic units. For them, UCollege will be that home – a factor that makes a big difference in helping students stay in school.

Currently, 209 students – freshmen and transfer students – are enrolled in UCollege.

The program includes UNIV 101, the cornerstone course required of all incoming students, and 93 freshmen were allowed to select from four UNIV 101 seminars of interest to them. Students will develop key academic skills, connect with a potential faculty mentor and move toward declaration of an academic program.

“Students are excited. I mentor those students who believe they might be interested in science with biology,” said Gilroy. “Ultimately, the program promises tools to enhance student skills, making students successful during their first year and until graduation.”

Freshman Max Fiorella, a Kansas City native, was awaiting his appointment with a mentor in the Academic Support and Mentoring office. He thinks he might want to pursue psychology or a degree in business administration.

“My family is in the restaurant business, and I have grown up in that industry. I’m very good at it, too. So, I would like to get a degree in something that requires work and doesn’t come to me so easily.”

He began his search in the right place: the Student Success Center.

For additional details, visit Student Success Center.

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