Res Life adds new program, success center

The Department of Residence Life is hoping to increase academic achievement with the new implementation of what officials are calling the FOCUS program. The program will also feature a new academic area on the first floor of Rivers Hall, said Jennifer Ballard, assistant director of residence life for success initiatives.

“Programmatically, we have tried to design things in this building, because we know that first-year students face certain transition issues from high school to college, and we want to make sure that’s a successful process,” Ballard said.

In the new program, all of Rivers Hall will be a part of the FOCUS program, but students who opt to live on a select number of floors will have increased programming, Ballard said.

The new success center will house computers, white boards and a variety of things students need to succeed, Ballard said.

“(The FOCUS success center) is going to be a specific space within the actual physical community where students can have access to … a modernized study space,” Ballard said. “In addition, we want to offer services that are available on other parts of campus.”

The students who will have access to this center will have many opportunities and tools to be successful, she said.

“This is going to be an awesome space … a location where students can study together, meet together and work together,” Ballard said.

Students who live on campus are statistically more successful than students who live off campus, Ballard said.

“It is statistically proven that students that live on campus have a higher grade point average than those that live off campus,” Ballard said.

The university has created a committee of faculty and staff members who are committed to the success of students, Ballard said.

“We want to, as a university and a department, kind of set the precedent for success,” she said.

In addition to the FOCUS program, residence life added new student worker positions last year called FYRE (First Year Resident Educators) fellows, Ballard said. The student workers were in charge of ensuring students on their respective floors were successful academically and personally.

“Most of the students were very receptive to the assistants,” she said. “Many of the students formed a strong relationship with their FYRE fellows, and they will be available in the FOCUS Success Center 10 hours a week, as well as on their floors.”

Ballard said the position was created to help students along with their first year at UNA.

“The general purpose of that position is for (the FYRE fellows) to be a role model and resource (for new students),” she said.

All of the initiatives that are being put into place are to keep students on campus after their first year, Ballard said. She said her department is working on making UNA a residential campus.

“It’s an exciting time for res life across the board, and I feel it will be an awesome support system,” she said.