Organizing an Integrative First Year Experience on a Community College Campus – A Case Study

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Organizing an Integrative First Year Experience on a Community College Campus – A Case Study
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“The urban community college presents a unique set of concerns when considering the crucial first year of study. The success of our first year initiative was due in large part to the partnership that was formed between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.”
~ Michele Cuomo
Webinar Presenter

Queensborough Community College’s Freshman Academies Initiative combined efforts in Academic and Student Affairs to provided enhanced support to students undergoing their first year experience. This webinar will describe Queensborough’s initiative, as well as provide a framework for discussion on participants’ campuses. The unique concerns of open access urban community college’s will be discussed in this case study approach.

The Freshman Academies, a full scale initiative at Queensborough Community College were launched in Fall 2009. Their design and implementation represents a strengthening of the College’s commitment to student success with a three-fold focus on:

  • Providing a more coordinated student services and academic undergraduate experience;
  • Improving retention and graduation rates; and
  • Building students’ commitment to their future education and lifelong careers.

Queensborough accomplished the planning and implementation of the Freshman Academies through close collaboration between the college’s academic departments and student services across an eight-year period. Academic components of the Academies are developed and coordinated by Faculty Coordinators in consultation with their respective department chairs. Academic support is complemented via a streamlining of student support services, which are provided by Freshmen Coordinators who work within the Office of Student Affairs. Faculty and administrators also worked with an external evaluation consultant at the College to design a rigorous assessment protocol for the Academies. In addition to extensive surveys and reports from the Freshman Coordinators, this protocol calls for the use of specialized rubrics designed to measure student learning outcomes. Projected student gains include higher course success and completion rates, higher term GPAs, and higher persistence and graduation rates.

Participants will:
Learn about Queensborough Community College Freshman Academies Model and begin to determine strategies for successful models on their own campuses

Who should attend?
Administrators in Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs

Who is the speaker?
Michele Cuomo was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2010, after a two year appointment as Assistant Dean following a year spent in the Office of Academic Affairs as a Faculty Fellow. She became a member of the Queensborough Community College faculty in the Fall of 2003, and was promoted to the rank of associate professor in the department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts five years later.

Previous positions include Head of Acting at The University of Mississippi and Interim Head of Acting at The University of Georgia, where she was also a member of the select Graduate Faculty.

Michele Cuomo earned her B.A. degree in English at the College of New Rochelle, and her M.F.A. degree in Acting at The Ohio State University. She attended the Harvard Institute for Higher Education’s Management Development Program in 2008. She is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, a Certified Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and an Experienced Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She is a board member of the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association after a year of service as an officer. She received one of the first Emerging Leaders Awards from the American Association of University Administrators and an award for Teaching and Technology at the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications Best Practices Conference, both in 2010.

Michele has served as the Principal Investigator for the MDRC Learning Communities Study, as well as the project director for the Queensborough NEA Big Read grant. Leading the operations of the Freshman Academies has focused her inquiry into high impact practices for student success, and she participates as a faculty member in the Student Interdisciplinary Wiki Project, which incorporates global and diversity learning in a virtual learning community using an Epsilen platform. She continues to pursue creative research as a theatrical director and playwright, with most recent performances of her work at the Joyce Soho Theatre and the Theatre for the New City.

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