NCCU Student Success Symposium
DURHAM — As part of North Carolina Central University’s commitment to creating and sustaining a culture of student success, a student symposium will take place tomorrow and Saturday in the Pearson Cafeteria Banquet Hall. The theme is “The Journey to Graduation and Beyond.” Registration will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday (April 8) and the program is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. with a reception to follow. Registration starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday with the program scheduled for 9 a.m.
The featured speaker Friday evening is Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. Kimbrough has gained national prominence as one of the youngest college presidents in the nation and has forged a national reputation as an expert on fraternities and sororities, with specific expertise regarding historically black, Latin and Asian groups.
The aim of the symposium is to gather students to obtain their perspectives on how to create and sustain a culture of academic success. A 21-member committee of NCCU students has conducted the planning. They assigned other students to act as symposium speakers and responders. Students will present papers on the subject of how to achieve student success. NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms has promised to allocate $100,000 to support potentially successful initiatives that arise at the symposium.
The symposium is being held at a time when the university — and the entire 17-campus University of North Carolina system — is seeking to increase the number of students who progress from freshman to sophomore year and who graduate in four to six years. System administrators are pushing the individual schools to do a better job of lowering dropout rates and graduating their students in six years or less. State leaders increasingly want to tie funding for new enrollment to student success.
This symposium is one of a number of recent NCCU initiatives to enhance student success. The university began with the restructuring of the University College to oversee the academic progress of all freshmen and sophomores and to provide tutoring and other support services as necessary. Despite budget constraints, 21 new advisors have been hired to assist students. A Quality Enhancement Plan titled “Communicating to Succeed” was developed as a result of NCCU’s accreditation review. It focuses on improving students’ speaking and writing skills. The Honors Program has been revamped. Additional programs such as Centennial Scholars, Annie Day Shepard Scholars and Summer Bridge have been developed to better prepare and coach students to succeed at the university level.
In recent interviews, committee members said that although undergraduate success is the main focus of the symposium, they also will seek a vigorous discussion on success beyond the undergraduate years — from graduate school to jobs to an attitude about life. “Our goal is not just successful students, but successful people,” said committee member Christopher I. Knuckles.
Founded in 1910, North Carolina Central University was the first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans. Today, this dynamic campus has a diverse student body of 8,600 enrolled in academic programs including law, biotechnology, library science, business, nursing, education and the arts. For two years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked NCCU as the best public historically black college or university in the nation.