A major student-satisfaction initiative aims to empower students to complete their education at Regent University (RU). The new “Center for Student Happiness” (CSH) combines an engagement team, call center and coaching team to provide students with resources to help them succeed. The initiative, which comes after research, discussion and training for student retention, provides a friendly face for students from Regent’s caring community of faculty and staff.
“The Retention Revolution ignited by Chancellor Robertson’s establishment of the CSH is to limit every obstacle that would keep our students from finishing well what they have dreamed to be and do through their entrance at RU,” said Dr. Joseph Umidi, executive vice president for student life. “Though every University knows the economic impact of higher retention rates, Regent understands it as a core Christian value of 1 Corinthians 13 love; the more excellent way to build a great Christian University.”
Student retention is a top priority for Regent University’s leadership. Kyle Graham has been tasked with piecing the new CSH together to provide students with a personal resource to keep them engaged academically, socially and spiritually. It comes after much student engagement and satisfaction research.
“Retention is the responsibility of every person in every school,” said Graham, director of the new center. “Our institution has a great heart, and we want to put that out there. We want to know our students and their stories and be part of their lives.”
Studies show that nationwide, schools lose about 25 percent of their first-year students and another 20 percent of second-year students. Regent’s new center is designed to increase the quality of the student’s academic and life experience at Regent, resulting in higher fulfillment and retention rates in every degree program. People working in the center plan to fulfill this purpose by serving as happy, helpful and knowledgeable listeners.
The new initiative will expand new student orientation programming, implement a new success peer coaching program, and offer large-scale trainings. To accomplish this, the center is researching key retention behaviors of colleges and universities with a retention rate of 85 percent or higher. The new student coaching component will offer students resources based on a self-assessment questionnaire, as well as free appointments with trained coaches to discuss academic success, life success skills, life perspective and self-leadership. It will also oversee the existing Regent C.A.R.E.S. hotline.
“When Regent started the hotline in 2012, it was pretty unusual to have a 24 hour support center,” said Graham. “It is unique that we have a resource for care and prayer. It’s not just about solving a problem, but listening, finding what needs to be accomplished, and helping students take the next step.”
Regent C.A.R.E.S. estimates it will answer 40,000 student calls this coming academic year. Under the new initiative, Regent C.A.R.E.S. staff will also place an additional 18,000 calls to welcome students, listen to their concerns and see if they have any questions.
The success center starts August 24 at the beginning of the fall semester. Graham says this will be the first visible new initiative for the center. The student coaching initiative will offer free coaching appointments with students face-to-face, by phone or online through Blackboard Collaborate.