By Olivia Abney
Jennifer Collins, Ph.D., a veteran professor in the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI), knows the importance of freshman year.
“The successful transition from high school to college sets the tone for students’ academic success and I am grateful for the opportunity to play a role in helping our freshmen accomplish their academic goals,” said Collins, who has taken on new responsibilities as assistant provost for freshmen studies for the Division of Academic Affairs.
Collins, former SBI assistant dean for assessment and accreditation and associate professor of management, will coordinate efforts to provide freshmen with deliberate, focused support as they navigate their first year at FAMU.
“Florida A&M University has been very intentional in providing academic support services to our students. My role was created to bring all of the freshman student-related activities under one umbrella,” Collins continued. “The newly established Office of Freshmen Studies was designed to help freshman students successfully transition into the University and make satisfactory progress towards graduating in four years.”
Student success is one of the pillars of the University’s Strategic Plan, FAMU Rising.
“Achieving our goals for student success is of paramount importance,” said Maurice Edington, Ph.D., provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “The creation of this new role will allow us to have a greater focus on improving retention and four-year graduation rates and enhance our efforts to provide an excellent experience for our students.”
Collins plans to develop and implement programming and strategies that assist with academic progress during their first year in college as well as successful transition from freshman to sophomore status and encourage higher retention rates and satisfactory academic progress. As part of the FAMU Rising Strategic Plan, the university is actively setting in place measures to improve the four-year graduation rate.
The University is completing the four-story Center for Access and Student Success, student services building on Wahnish Way, which will house many offices under one roof.
Additions to the area of student success will include hiring more academic advisers, academic coaches, mental health professionals, and career counselors.
One of Collins’ goals will be getting out information about First Year Experience Courses. Many returning students do not know there are three SLS courses: SLS 1101 – Student Life Skills, SLS 1102 – Career Development and Exploration, and SLS 1122 – Academic Success Skills. Usually, most freshmen or new transfers only take the first course.
As result of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all summer courses will be offered online. A team of faculty and staff are working to redesign the course, which will be piloted in summer in an online format.
“Beginning Summer 2020, based on student feedback and research on best practices, this course will provide students with more academic success strategies while introducing them to how to utilize the abundance of University resources,” Collins said. “The course will offer more of a student-centered learning environment that incorporates high-impact practices.”