Mississippi Public Universities
2007 Academics Winners
First Place: Mississippi State University
"Learning Skills Support Program"
Traditionally at Mississippi State University (MSU), students who are declared to be on Academic Suspension are required to stay out of school one regular semester, either fall or spring. For students suspended at the end of a spring semester, the suspension precludes enrollment in any summer school session as well as the following fall semester. This is in accordance to the Administrative Operating Policy 12.16 - Academic Suspension and Dismissal. As an alternative, the Office of the Provost and the Learning Center designed a program allowing suspended students to re-enroll early in school provided they follow requirements outlined in the program-the Learning Skills Support Program (LSSP). The LSSP is designed to improve their progress by specifically focusing on their individual obstacles to their academic success.
Second Place: Mississippi University for Women
"Increasing Advisor Knowledge and Information Access"
One of the most powerful tools available to universities to improve student retention is good academic advising. Mississippi University for Women has taken several steps to ensure high quality academic advising by developing advisor training and on-going support. The university began by developing a problem-based approach for advisor training. Using evaluation results, cases were written to improve advisors' knowledge and skills in applying academic policies. Face-to-face training sessions are scheduled annually for all new faculty members and academic administrators. In addition, an online, interactive version of materials is available for more experienced faculty to review. A comprehensive advisor manual, including information on best practices, academic policies and procedures, and campus resources and referral information, also is provided to academic advisors. To support the advising of transfer students who may be using credit earned from a variety of institutions to meet degree requirements, electronic links are provided to the Mississippi articulation agreement, to Mississippi and Alabama community college transfer guides, and to customized transfer guides outlining course requirements by transfer institution and degree program. In addition, MUW academic advisors have access to Banner's Transfer Course Articulation Form, which provides information about course equivalencies for all courses articulated by the institution. These materials ensure that not only MUW academic advisors, but also community college advisors, have access to specific information about degree requirements to support a seamless transition between institutions. These initiatives to improve advising processes for transfer students are essential because the majority (60%) of MUW students have transfer hours. Following implementation of these initiatives, overall student dissatisfaction ratings of academic advising been reduced to 6 percent.