Program to Provide Services to Low-Income First Generation Students and Students with Disabilities

PHOTO: Eric HardwickMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Eric Hardwick, most recently director of the Poughkeepsie campus of Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute, has been hired to serve as director of SUNY Orange’s new TRIO Student Support Services program.

In August, SUNY Orange received a $1.1 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant, awarded by the United States Department of Education, to help increase the persistence, retention, graduation and transfer rates of low-income first generation students and students with disabilities. The five-year grant will provide the College with $220,000 annually to facilitate its Student Success Project. With those funds, SUNY Orange expects to serve at least 140 eligible students each year (at least 700 in total over the next five years). By September 2020, when the grant cycle concludes, the College hopes to improve completion rates of SSS-eligible students.

Hardwick, who earned his associate’s degree from Dutchess Community College along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY New Paltz, spent the past five years at Ridley-Lowell. Throughout that span, he served as an instructor in a variety of courses. Additionally, he was dean of education for the institute from 2010-13 before taking on the role of campus director.

“Eric has held various administrative positions at Ridley-Lowell and has worked extensively with first-generation and low-income students,” says Madeline Torres-Diaz, associate vice president for student engagement and completion at SUNY Orange. “Eric has all of the qualities we look for in a campus leader and he will be an tremendous asset to the College and our students as we launch our new TRiO program.”

SUNY Orange’s Student Success Project will feature a proactive “intrusive advising” program to include individualized student success coaching, financial literacy training, peer mentoring and personal counseling; mid-term progress evaluations; tutoring groups; financial aid assistance; career enrichment activities; and transfer advising. He will manage the daily activities of two part-time “success coaches” and a part-time administrative assistant.

Many SSS-eligible students may be unfamiliar with college expectations, lack the basic skills required for college-level work, have limited experience with setting goals, and face time and work obstacles to their education. These factors all contribute to lower college retention, graduation, grade point average, and transfer rates among these eligible students compared to their peers. Helping students adjust academically and socially is a critical element of college success and a focus of the TRIO initiative.

To be eligible for SSS programs, students must be enrolled in a degree program or accepted for enrollment into a degree program, must be receiving federal Pell Grants and must meet certain income or disability guidelines as established by the federal government.

For more information on the Student Success Project at SUNY Orange, contact Hardwick at (845) 341-4175.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940