OSU set to construct new academic support center

Breaking New Ground
2011-06-01T08:00:00Z OSU set to construct new academic support centerBy GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Oregon State University celebrated the launch of its new Student Success Center, home for the university’s tutoring, supplemental instruction and academic transition programs, with a reception Tuesday afternoon at the site of the new $14 million building.

The ceremony featured remarks by several stakeholders, including current student Anderson Duboise III.

The freshman, double majoring in ethnic studies and education, earned a 4.0 grade-point average his first term at OSU. The success prompted him to join the University Honors College and become involved in the Black Cultural Center.

Duboise credits his achievements to the September Scholars Bridge Program, an academic program designed to help students transition from high school to college-level coursework.

“They demanded of me a whole new definition of rigor,” he said.

The Scholars Bridge program will be located in the new building.

Expected to be completed by fall 2012, the 30,000-square-foot, three-story building will be  near Southwest 26th Street behind the CH2M Hill Alumni Center. Featuring classroom and study space, its academic support services will target student athletes, first-year and transfer students.

Aiding new students is a big priority for universities: Statistics show that students who leave college are more likely to do so after their first year.

OSU’s retention rate for first-year students, measured from fall 2009 to fall 2010, is 83.1 percent. Susie Brubaker-Cole, associate vice-provost for academic success and engagement, said this is an increase from the previous year’s retention rate of 82.6 percent.

In addition to the programs such as September Scholars, OSU also has several academic support services offered through the Academic Success Center. For example, the University Exploratory Studies Program advises and provides classes for students with undeclared majors. Tutoring, academic coaching and help with writing are also available throughout the year.

Academic support services are in high demand; Brubaker-Cole said students took part in about 475 coaching sessions last academic year, and the number has jumped to about 850 this year.

She also said many academic support-centered buildings at other universities are geared toward student athletes; OSU’s new building will be one of the few that offers academic support services to both athletes and nonathletes.

The building’s goal to serve all students came at the suggestion of OSU Director of Athletics Bob DeCarolis, who urged Patrick Stone — co-chair of The Campaign for OSU steering committee — to donate his $300,000 gift to the OSU Foundation to the building’s fund instead of to the Athletics Department. Stone was impressed by the advice.

“I’d say OSU is a place where the Athletics Department is still a part of the university,” Stone told the crowd.

Half of the project’s estimated $14 million construction cost is covered by state bonds; donations are funding the other half. Along with Stone’s contribution, a significant chunk of the donated funds came through a $5 million gift from an anonymous donor.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or gail.cole@gazettetimes.com

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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