Mississippi Public Universities
2008 Student Services Winners
First Place: University of Southern Mississippi
"Southern Miss CARE"
The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to creating a culture of academic success for its students. One way that its student affairs division contributes to this vision is through the CARE System. The strategic focus of the CARE System is to promote the culture of healthy minds as it creates a safe and secure campus environment. The CARE System (Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System) of Southern Miss was established in response to the recognized need for collaborative services to manage students with mental health issues and behaviors that interrupt the learning environment. In the spring and summer of 2007, IHL contracted with Brett Sokolow to implement student behavioral intervention teams at all Mississippi institutions of higher education. Southern Miss, however, was ahead of the curve. An informal meeting in 2005 between the directors of housing, counseling, and the Dean of Students Office grew to be the 2008 CARE System: a four-leveled, streamlined intervention system to provide collaborative communication and services to manage students with mental health and behavioral issues on campus. The CARE System has become a sustainable cost-effective best practice intervention that is a benefit to both the campus and the surrounding Hattiesburg community. With the support of a three-year federal SAMHSA Grant awarded to USM Student Counseling Services in 2006, a multi-disciplinary team of representatives from various student affairs departments meets weekly in order to (1) improve communication between key departments regarding student mental health; (2) facilitate rapid and effective referral of students with mental health issues; and (3) optimize function of students with mental health and behavioral issues in order to reduce risk of harm to self or others.
Second Place: University of Mississippi
"Luckyday Success Program"
Luckyday Success Program, established in 2003, at the University of Mississippi provides high school to college adjustment training to approximately 130 incoming freshmen each year who are recipients of the Luckyday Scholarship. Research indicates that academic success/retention programs for college freshmen (i.e. First Year Experience programs) are crucial in helping bridge the gap between high school and college. The Luckyday Success Program provides a unique academic training program aimed at individual success for every Luckyday Scholarship recipient. Students selected for the Luckyday Scholarship begin academic training by participating in a week-long retreat prior to the fall semester of their freshmen year. During the course of the freshman year, Luckyday Scholars enroll in a First Year Seminar course (EDLD105) during the fall semester, attend mandatory study hall for seven hours per week, meet with an academic trainer every two weeks in their first year, attend required social events with a Peer Mentor, participate in service learning projects, and reside in specific Luckyday Scholar learning communities on campus. Student success at the University of Mississippi is the principal benefit of the Luckyday Program. In a span of five years, retention of freshmen from the first year to the second year has increased every year. For the 2007-2008 Luckyday Scholars Cohort, the retention rate from first year to second year was 88.5% compared to an institutional rate of 78.3%. The Luckyday Scholarship and Luckyday Success Program provide the financial and academic training components most needed by students for successful transition to college.