Support centers merging

Apr 082003
Authors: Willow Welter

Three academic support centers at CSU will soon merge in an attempt to deal with the current budget crisis.

A budgetary review committee, the Provost/Academic Vice President Peter Nicholls, Vice President for Student Affairs Linda Kuk and others have decided to merge the Center for Life Sciences, the HELP/Success Center and the Undergraduate Student Retention Office into one support center.

“I appointed a committee to look into the centers’ budgets,” Nicholls said. “They felt we could achieve some significant cost savings (by merging the three.)”

Nicholls said the three centers do a tremendous amount of advising, orientation and student retention.

The new center will have one director, and the current directors of the three merging entities are encouraged to apply for the new position, Nicholls wrote in a letter to the faculty.

One of the HELP/Success Center’s main goals is to conduct CSU’s orientation programs, said Paul Shang, director at the center. Shang said they organize such programs as Preview, Start Up and Ramfest, all of which attempt to familiarize freshman or transfer students with the campus.

“I hope (the merger) will result in more efficient delivery of information to students,” Shang said. “It’s an interesting idea and I know the staff is fully dedicated to making it work.”

Thomas Gorell, director of the Center for Life Sciences, said he is concerned about the merger.

“We’ve established an identity as a center,” he said, “and I’m a little bit concerned that we can maintain this identity.”

The CLS advises students in pre-professional programs like nursing and chiropractic studies, among others; organizes K-12 outreach programs and has established the Hughes Undergraduate Research Scholars program, which supports scientific research conducted by undergraduate students.

“I think given the budget situation, there was probably not another solution,” Gorell said. “At least they are trying to keep all the services provided by all three centers intact.”

The third center merging is the Undergraduate Student Retention Office.

“Overall our mission (at the USRO) is to assist the university with policies and programs that increase the likelihood of students’ success and graduation,” said Paul Thayer, the director of the office.

Thayer said the USRO has created programs like the Key Academic Community, aimed at keeping first year students motivated, the Early Alert Program and more than one scholarships.

“We understand the kind of financial pressures on the university right now,” Thayer said. “Our intentions are to make this work the best way possible to continue to provide services to students.”

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