BEAR Central streamlines academic support for student success

As the symbol of Lenoir-Rhyne, the bear represents many aspects of the student experience, and with the fall 2023 opening of BEAR Central, the redesigned student success unit on campus, the bear will represent Belonging, Equity, Access and Retention.

Joe Bear studying in the learning commons

BEAR Central offers a wide range of academic support services for all LR students, which include undergraduate advising, undergraduate student success services, graduate student success services, writing and speaking services, tutoring services, peer academic coaching and faculty academic coaching, among others. These services share a location on the second floor of Rudisill Library.

“Student success equals institutional success, which benefits the whole LR community. We’re always working together toward those goals, and bringing these services together provides a structure for more intentional focus to make sure everyone is getting the attention they need,” said Jeni Wyatt Ed.D., assistant provost for undergraduate education.

In addition to overseeing and coordinating the daily operations of existing support services, the soon-to-be-named inaugural director of BEAR Central will build strategies and implement new programming as needed to ensure all students remain on track to complete their degrees. Focused coordination with faculty advisors, administrators and other staff will enable students to access the resources they need to address challenges and reach their goals.

One important element of the BEAR Central restructuring is an emphasis on graduate student support and success.

“As a graduate student you’ve already proven a high level of academic achievement,” said Wyatt. “However, graduate students can still benefit from academic support in different areas. A lot of them don’t know the writing center, the math lab, all these services are available to them too. We want to be deliberate with outreach to undergraduate and graduate students alike.”

Because student success is a team effort, the director of BEAR Central will coordinate with other campus leaders through the newly created Student, Faculty and Institutional Success Collaborative, which will include the director of BEAR Central, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the director of general education and the director of institutional assessment.

“We’re building a model for intentional collaboration instead of just consulting one another to get information as needed,” shared Janet Painter, Ph.D., director of institutional assessment and director of general education. “Together we can assess which of our programs are making a difference for students, what needs are still present and how we can meet those needs. Frequent communication is the key.”

Jennifer Burris Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs, explained how the collaborative would expand professional development for faculty and analysis of programs and services for a multi-faceted approach to student achievement.

“The mission of this collaborative is advancing student success through teaching excellence and continual institutional assessment and improvement,” said Burris. “The mindful collaboration of BEAR Central with these other folks on campus is key to further enhancing students' success on campus. Students are always our priority at Lenoir-Rhyne.”

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