Walsh One of Three in Nation Honored for Retention Excellence


School News

Walsh University’s student retention efforts have been honored nationally with the prestigious Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award for 2017. Walsh received the highest honor, the Gold Award, and is one of only three in the United States to be honored by Ruffalo Noel Levitz, the recognized leader in higher education enrollment and fundraising management solutions.

The Retention Excellence Awards program was established to honor the retention achievements of regionally accredited postsecondary institutions throughout North America in areas such as minority retention, academic advising, career development, early detection programs and more. The award is indicative that Walsh’s retention program is a national model to be emulated.

Walsh will be formally recognized at the National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention in Denver, CO, this July.

The Walsh retention program, entitled Cavalier Connection, is a campus-wide program committed to connecting students to the academic resources and social supports they need to ensure their success. Spearheaded by Walsh’s Dean of Academic Services Dr. Edna McCulloh and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Admissions Rebecca Coneglio, the Cavalier Connection consists of administrators, faculty, and staff from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs staff who are under the leadership of Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students Amy Malaska. The 2017 Lee Noel-Randi Levitz application was completed and submitted in March with guidance and input from Rachel Hammel, Director of Grants and Sponsored Research. The University was notified of this esteemed recognition on April 25.

"This honor confirms our commitment to all students that they come first," said Dr. McCulloh. "It underscores our promise to ensure that we will provide the tools and support they will need for success. Although Rebecca and I spearheaded this initiative, the real reason behind the University’s success has been the combined efforts of our entire Walsh campus, where everyone is looking out for our students. None of this is possible without the support of Walsh University’s senior leadership, particularly our Provost Dr. Douglas Palmer and President Richard Jusseaume."

The Cavalier Connection consists of four distinct teams, all with a different purpose but one shared goal, Retention to Degree Completion:

I. Enrollment Management Team: Identifies high-risk freshmen early to promote successful academic and social transitions. The team is represented by Faculty, Office of the Registrar, Student Affairs and Admissions. Walsh’s incoming freshmen are supported by three areas:

  • Structured Education Program: Director, Faculty, Student Tutors and Academic Advisors.
  • First-Year Experience Course: Directors, Library Services, Career Services, Global Learning and International Student Services, Faculty and Staff.
  • Student Support Resources: Academic Support Center, Mental Health/Wellness, Financial Aid.

II. Care Team: Investigates concerns forwarded from faculty and staff regarding student challenges.

  • The Care Team consists of: Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Academic Services, Director of Campus Ministry, Chief of Police, Athletic Compliance Officer/Senior Women’s Administrator, Director of Multicultural Affairs, Director of Residence Life, Executive Director of Counseling and Health Services and Assistant Dean of Students.
  • Student Peer Support Systems: Resident Assistants and Academic Tutors.

III. Retention Team: Utilizes a comprehensive tracking system to identify students requiring immediate assistance.

  • The Retention Team consists of: Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Academic Services, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid Specialist, Director of Multicultural Affairs, Compliance Officer/Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Professional Advising.
  • Campus Advocates and Retention Agents support the retention team’s efforts. Representatives include Director of Accessibility Services, Resident Directors, Information Technology Office, Student Service Center, Office of the Registrar and Coordinator of Commuter, Evening and Weekend Programming.

IV. Freshmen Academic Advising Team: Intrusive advising and mentoring during the first year to instill a sense of belonging, summer connections, action plans and intentional links to major specific faculty advisors.

  • All Professional Academic Advisors and Athletic Academic Support Specialists.

The Cavalier Connection strives to ensure student success through the early identification of potential obstacles that may impede a student’s journey to degree completion. The program aims to maintain a cohesive team of administrators, faculty and staff working together to promote a student-centered culture and one-on-one mentorship.

The program experienced impressive retention outcomes over the past five years. There was a notable five percent increase from 78.1 percent in 2014 to 83 percent in 2015, which is the highest retention increase in the University’s history and above the national average of 75 percent for a comparable institution.

Program and institutional nominees are judged on criteria including clarity of purpose, measurable institutional outcomes, and the originality in program conception and implementation.