Academic Center Named 'Model of Excellence'

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Academic Center Named 'Model of Excellence'

BATON ROUGE — LSU, in particular the efforts of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its Spring 2016 Models of Excellence recognition program.

The Models of Excellence program recognizes innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus.

“For student-athletes, pressure bears down from all angles – from classroom expectations to media scrutiny,” says University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “LSU realizes the unique challenges this population faces, and offers a holistic solution that helps this group succeed outside of game day.”

That an NCAA Division I school provides its student-athletes with academic support services is hardly news. What differentiates LSU’s efforts is that its support encompasses more than just academics.

LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, which is funded exclusively through proceeds generated by the LSU athletic department, private donations and its partnership with Cox Communications, comprises both an academic affairs division and a student affairs division. The goal is to support student-athletes in their studies as well as in such areas as financial literacy, health and wellness, and dealing with the media.

Kenneth Miles, LSU Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, calls it “treating life skills as a curriculum.”

“We definitely have a holistic approach to dealing with our student-athletes,” Miles says. “We recognize its importance to develop them academically, cognitively, personally and professionally.”

CCACSA relies heavily on technology to help student-athletes, whose busy schedules include practice time, game time and travel time. GradesFirst, a student information system, allows staff to track grades and read tutors’ reports. Remote tutoring is conducted through WebEx. And Tigers are given iPads pre-loaded with apps to help with note-taking, studying and recording lectures.

“According to Apple, we were the first school to provide iPads that had prescribed educational apps on them to be able to assist our students,” Miles says.

Since the launch of the CCACSA in 2001, LSU’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) has continued an upward trend each year, which includes its most recent score of 84 percent, an all-time high for the school. The 84 percent is up significantly from the school’s first score of 67 percent in 2005. LSU has also gone from a GSR score of 69 percent in 2008 to a score of 84 in 2015, which represents one of the best improvements in the Southeastern Conference during that span.

And, reflecting CCACSA’s holistic approach, community service hours have nearly tripled.

“Our vision is to be the premiere resource for student-athletes. We recognize it as a transformative process,” Miles says. “The goal is to help them find balance between their optimal levels of academic and personal development.”

In addition to LSU, other Spring 2016 Models of Excellence honorees include: Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.); University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond, Okla.); Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.); National University (San Diego, Calif.); Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Ariz.); and Tulane University (New Orleans, La.).

“The Spring 2016 Models of Excellence honorees tackled some of the most pressing issues in higher education and found demonstrative success in their tactics,” says Andrew Crawford, senior vice president of campus services and operations at Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”

Launched in 2015, Models of Excellence is a national recognition program honoring colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and inter-departmental initiatives that are bolstering student success. The program is sponsored by Higher One, which offers a wide array of technological services on campus, ranging from streamlining the institution’s performance analytics and financial aid refund processes to offering students innovative banking services, tuition payment plans and the basics of financial management. Higher One works closely with colleges and universities by allocating resources more efficiently to provide a higher quality of service and using data to impact success with a focus on empowering students.