In the spring of 2016, Chancellor Paydar launched the IUPUI Welcoming Campus Initiative, which is dedicated to fostering an environment that encourages and supports the highest levels of personal and academic achievement for students, staff, and faculty. At the end of 2018, this initiative directed its attention toward a specific part of the campus population: pre-majors enrolled in University College. On November 29, all of IUPUI’s representatives met at a welcoming pre-majors institute to discuss better strategies for promoting the success of University College students’ acceptance into degree-granting schools.
The goal of the institute was to improve the sense of belonging for pre-majors moving from University College to their schools of choice and to help students feel more connected to IUPUI. This connection will help students be more comfortable in the campus environment and be confident in their degree of choice. Maureen Kinney, executive director of Academic and Career Development in University College, stated: “One of the things we’ve been focusing on in the past . . . is student belonging and the sense of belonging and knowing that when students feel connected to the institution and to their school that they’re more likely to stay.”
At the institute, each representative began drafting proposals for their schools, focusing on specific deadlines and goals. In addition, the representatives learned that each school can apply to receive a grant through the Innovation Fund, which is meant to support the schools' initiatives. This is related to their process of improving sense of belonging among the schools' pre-majors.
Kinney finds the collaborative work of University College and degree-granting schools exciting. She says, “I find it’s very easy in such a big institution to get siloed off and be focused on your own work or focused on your own school. And being able to see everyone in the big picture and how we can impact the entire IUPUI population—that’s fun. It’s really motivating to see.”
During the institute, the representatives from each school reviewed and discussed data about pre-major acceptance rates and outcomes to most effectively apply relevant information to their revisions of their pre-major acceptance processes. Shannon McCullough, representative for the Herron School of Art and Design, says that the event helped her school consider how to spread information about their process, and they decided to focus on Herron Information Day.
Diana Sims Harris, director of student affairs for the School of Science agrees, saying that the institute was a space to imagine new data-driven ways to support pre-science students. She explains: “Our institute team has shared goals with science advisors and faculty members. We are convening teams to make each of the goals a reality using timelines and implementation groups. We are energized to continue this work to better support pre-majors and to ensure a smooth and welcoming transition to science.”
Providing additional attention and guidance to pre-majors is an important step to integrate them into their schools and to drive improved retention and graduation rates.