Funds Will Help College Increase Student Retention, Improve Graduation Rates, Boost Student Engagement

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Fortified by a prestigious $1.88 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, SUNY Orange will be able to systematically change the way it interacts with students over the next five years in order to increase student retention, raise graduation rates, and strengthen student engagement and involvement in College programs and services.

The College’s proposal, entitled “Transforming the Student Experience to Increase Engagement, Persistence and Retention,” was one of just 14 initiatives selected for funding by the Department of Education in its Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). The Department of Education will distribute a total of $5.4 million to the 14 institutions over the next five years so they may expand their capacity to serve low-income students.

Title III funds allow institutions to improve and strengthen their institutional management and fiscal stability in order to build a framework that will further help students complete college. In all, SUNY Orange will receive $1,886,481, with $392,669 coming in the first year.

The foundation of the College’s grant proposal calls for the restructuring of its student services programs--particularly on the Middletown campus--into a single, comprehensive “one-stop” center called Student Services Central. This new center will be similar to the current Student Services Central model that the College has implemented, on a significantly smaller scale, at its newly renovated Newburgh campus.

Student Services Central will integrate the enrollment services of admissions, registration, financial aid, orientation and advising into a seamless process with one point of entry for all students.

The restructured “bricks and mortar” Student Services Central will be supported by a robust technological support system that includes presentations, webinars, tutorials and other materials that will be accessible around the clock via a new MySUNYOrange online portal that will be created by funds from the grant. All services divisions will be fully web-enabled in order to streamline processes and take students from the admission process to the classroom more quickly and efficiently. Current students will benefit as well by having a centralized area that is easily accessible in person or online.

“By integrating our systems and processes, we hope to be able to simplify and demystify the college experience for all students,” said Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president, “while at the same time providing much-needed support for at-risk students and those who are the first in their families to enter college.

“Student persistence, retention and graduation are critical issues for the College,” Richards adds. “Of the first-time, full-time students who enter each year, four out of 10 will be gone by the end of their second semester; and only two out of 10 will graduate within three years. We need to improve upon those statistics and this grant will help us move significantly in that direction.”

The College will also greatly expand its New START orientation program that is required for all newly admitted students. A Transitional Advising Program will be developed and integrated into the second semester for students. This transitional bridge program will help students with their respective career paths, more effectively engage with their faculty advisors for the rest of their college career and persist toward graduation.

Gerianne Brusati, SUNY Orange associate vice president for enrollment management, will coordinate implementation of the new programs.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940