In the midst of countless changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, NC State’s focus on student success remains steadfast. This semester, the Academic Success Center (ASC) opens to provide another avenue for the university to fulfill its mission.
The ASC helps students move closer toward degree completion through programs and resources promoting academic skill development and independent learning within the university environment. It is a central location to study, engage with other students, and find comprehensive academic resources in one place.
Behind the Scenes
“The ASC is a resource center where students will go for tutoring, writing and speaking services, and it will also offer some career counseling and academic advising services,” said Duane Larick, senior vice provost for academic strategy and resource management and chair of the ASC Building and Planning Committee. “What is unique about this project is our efforts to bring those services to the students in the D.H. Hill Jr. Library, which is one of the most popular student gathering places on campus.”
Though initial planning for the ASC began in 2012, its component programs have been on campus much longer.
“Early in my tenure as director of the University Tutorial Center, I had some conversations about this possibility of bringing multiple academic support services together in one space with the late Dr. Thomas Conway when he led the Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs,” said Barbie Windom, who’s led the center since 1995.
The University Tutorial Center, which has been renamed the ASC, has offered tutoring services on campus for more than 30 years, but has never had enough space to offer all tutoring in one place. Mike Mullen, former vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, was the catalyst for partnering with the Provost’s Office and Greg Raschke, senior vice provost and director of the University Libraries to bring several DASA units to this central location as a one-stop shop for student success.
Given the ASC’s focus on supporting students’ academic success, it was critical for faculty to be involved in its planning and implementation. Chris Ashwell, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and professor of animal genomics in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, played a key role in the ASC’s formation. Ashwell visited several peer institutions to take a look at their similar spaces.
“I quickly realized that we had nothing like this on NC State’s campus and we had to make it happen,” he said. “The ASC and the Hill Renovation really came to fruition from two different groups — DASA and the NC State University Libraries. Both of these units strive to support the whole student and by joining forces they combine to create a student space with student-centered support both curricular and co-curricular.”
Many presentations and town halls were held over the years as the ASC was being designed and constructed, including for the Faculty Senate, Council of Deans and associate deans for academic affairs.
“Now that the facility is open, the best way that faculty can continue to engage with the ASC is to encourage students to use it,” said Larick.
Faculty may also be interested in the ASC’s Supplemental Instruction Program, which targets historically difficult courses and helps students integrate what to learn with how to learn through peer-led study sessions.
A Truly Comprehensive Center
The ASC is part of the larger D.H. Hill Jr. Library renovation, and its proximity to other campus services serves faculty, staff and students well. In addition to the new ASC space, the renovation resulted in the creation of the Innovation Studio, which is part teaching space and part interactive exhibit, showcasing student and faculty work at NC State; the Visualization Studio, which includes a circular projection surface and immersive, 360-degree projection for faculty presentations; and the Data Experience Lab, which is a collaborative, community-oriented space for data science, visualization, digital scholarship and analytics.
The second-floor renovation in D.H. Hill Jr. Library also houses the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), a meeting point for students and faculty. OUR helps students find mentors and funding for their research projects, and supports the development of faculty as research mentors. Faculty can take advantage of OUR services by hiring a research assistant through the office at no cost, and encourage those assistants to use the ACS to support their academic careers.
This semester, all ASC services will be offered virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To better serve students, the ASC will offer tutoring for an expanded number of courses. The ASC will also pilot an academic peer mentoring program to support students’ study habits and time management skills.
“One of the most important aspects of the ASC that faculty and students should realize is that all services are free!” said Windom. “We have so many wonderful services to offer. Additionally, our open floor space becomes general library study space and five ASC group study rooms become reservable from the Libraries website late at night and during parts of the weekend when the ASC is not offering services. The ASC is truly a space where successful students meet!”