UNO Hosts Conference of Louisiana Higher Education Professionals
The University of New Orleans plays host today to a congregation of higher education leaders in Louisiana and UNO professionals will present seminars at the conference.
"Hosting LACSUPA is a great opportunity to show off UNO's campus," said LeeAnne Sipe, coordinator of campus programs at UNO. "We have four presentations occurring that are led by UNO professionals."
The Louisiana Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators is Louisiana's leading professional organization working to address issues facing the many different areas of student affairs in higher education. LACUSPA is an organization made up of Louisiana higher education student personnel administrators of both public and private institutions.
Today, UNO hosts the organization's 40th annual conference, "Pell Grants: Future of Access in the Deep South," in the University Center. This year's theme, which addresses one of the biggest challenges facing higher education today, financial stability, is expected to make the conference one of the organization's strongest ever. The annual conference provides an opportunity for new and seasoned professionals to engage in informal dialogue, formal presentations, roundtable discussions and networking activities.
"The annual LACUSPA conference is an amazing opportunity for professionals from across the state to come together to network and engage in professional development," said Dale O'Neill, interim director of student involvement and leadership at UNO. "It has been an honor to host an event where so many professionals are engaging in dialog about best and innovative practices."
O'Neill, who this year serves as the conference site chair and serves on the LACUSPA executive team as the public university representative, said the annual conference hosted for the second year at UNO provides professionals an opportunity to focus jointly on student affairs trends that impact the lives of more than 200,000 students.
A Response to Financial Instability
University of Alabama Professor Stephen Katsinas will serve as keynote speaker. He serves as director of the Education Policy Center and higher education program chair at Alabama and recently presented to the U.S. Congress the Education Policy Center's three-state study on the impact of the new Pell Grant eligibility restrictions on community colleges. The study, written in partnership with scholars from Mississippi State and Iowa State Universities, focused on colleges in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, and was one of the first conducted on the issue nationally.
Congress passed new Pell Grant eligibility restrictions in June 2012 and the restrictions became effective last fall, causing an evident decrease in enrollment in 47 of 62 community colleges in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi—a decrease of 76 percent, according to the study. More than 5,000 students lost Pell eligibility in Fall 2012 and nearly 17,000 students will lose it in one or two semesters, the study shows. Larger universities are affected by the impact.
Katsinas and his colleagues argue that Pell Grants are "critical to the future of the Deep South's economy," adding that additional proposals to reevaluate the Pell Grant program and implement further restrictions would significantly lower student's access to education across the nation, hindering students' opportunity to gain the necessary educational skills and job training for their future career goals.
The report, now under review by Congress, argues that lower enrollment also means less tuition revenue for these community colleges, limiting their ability to retain workers. The results of the Education Policy Center's study indicated that 88 percent of community college financial aid officers prefer a lower maximum Pell Grant with fewer restrictions.
The University of New Orleans, like others involved in the conference, aims to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UNO is the city's flagship university and as part of its mission aims to provide access to higher education.
Today, key staff in the University's Office of Enrollment Services will present "Reinventing the Student Experience: The Privateer Enrollment Center." Associate Director of Orientation and First Year Experience Christy Heaton and student success counselors Nick Fuselier and Nicole Ralston will discuss the creation, implementation and purpose of the University's new one-stop-shop, which is home to Enrollment Services: Admissions, Orientation, Financial Aid, First Year Experience and First Year Advising. Through a review of Galbraith's process structure model and student success best practices, they will demonstrate how to collaboratively create a space that is inviting and informative and meets the needs of new, continuing and prospective students.
Ralston and Tonia Salas, a new FYE counselor who recently joined UNO after working at Kansas University, will also present "Promoting Persistence: Success Coaching and More First Year Initiatives," a seminar focused on student retention. First Year Experience at UNO has developed a success coaching program to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Ralston and Salas will discuss ways to build a one-on-one connection with students to support them in personal, academic and other professional goals. They will provide mechanisms for creating a successful coaching program, including recruitment, facilitation of a meeting and assessments, as well as highlight additional programs offered by FYE.
O'Neill, together with Heaton, Sipe and Cat Polivoda, another new FYE student success counselor, will discuss the University's newest approach to collaboration: Affinity Housing. Affinity housing at UNO sprang to life this fall with four new affinity wings: iLEAD, focused on student involvement and leadership; New Orleans Culture, Transfer Experience and Honors. Affinity Housing was created and implemented through campus partnerships between the Office of Student Housing, Student Involvement and Leadership, Orientation and First Year Experience.