Student success the focus of this year’s Faculty and Staff Institute

Rethinking the methods that educators use to help students matriculate at Alcorn State University was the theme of this year’s annual faculty and staff gathering.

The 2017 Faculty and Staff Institute was held Tuesday, Aug. 15 in the James L. Bolden Campus Union Ballroom. Dr. George L. Mehaffy, vice president for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Washington, D. C., delivered the keynote presentation.

Mehaffy is responsible for developing and managing programs for member institutions in areas such as leadership development, undergraduate education, technology, international education and teacher education. He works closely with university presidents and chief academic officers on a variety of national initiatives.

Mehaffy began his speech by elaborating on the importance of colleges being ready to prepare all students for a productive learning experience.

“I think we need to worry about students being prepared for college, and we need to worry about if our colleges are ready for our students,” said Mehaffy. “I want to emphasize that preparing students for a career is the same as preparing them for life.”

Another issue that Mehaffy discussed was the correlation between student success and professional development. He said that a student’s path to graduation and being prepared to succeed after college is a reflection of the learning tools and encouragement that the professor provides.

“We need to rethink how we see if students are college ready or not. Student failure is a sign of academic rigor. Your success as professionals is tied in with the success of your students. If you accept students into an institution, you are obligated to help them grow, develop and learn as adults.”

Mehaffy said that taking time to motivate students when they experience tough times is one of the key factors to positive change.

“Not all student failure is the failure of the students. Some student failure is our failure. The minute we own that, then we can become better institutions. We have to communicate with the students by encouraging them. You don’t intervene when a student drops out; you intervene when a student isn’t making the grades. This is about the future of this country, and that is why student success is so important.”

President Alfred Rankins Jr. shared his vision for enhancing university services in the future. Some of his vision includes improvements to campus infrastructure, customer service and accountability.

“We can’t exist if we are not financially viable here at Alcorn,” said Rankins. “We have to continue to improve campus infrastructure and facilities on campus because students make decisions based on facilities and amenities.

“Customer service is important. We must continue to evaluate what we do to provide quality customer service to our students. The people who go above and beyond to get the work done should be recognized and appreciated for their outstanding work for Alcorn.”

Other highlights from the Faculty and Staff Institute were the introduction of the University’s newest employees and greetings from University leadership.

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