Pioneer Center opens at TWU

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Site offers one-stop shop for academic enhancement, support

A new central location for student services at Texas Woman’s University opened Monday, offering a one-stop shop for academic enhancement and support for the first time.

The Pioneer Center for Student Excellence now encompasses a portion of the second floor in the library and has space for group meetings, new technology and representatives from various academic offices to answer student questions.

The idea for the center has been in the making since 2011, said Robert Neely, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“The original genesis of the idea pretty much is in alignment with TWU’s philosophy of success and achievement, and fits in with the three-year effort for continuous improvement,” he said. “So this is just one step on those values. The center really symbolizes our commitment to student achievement, but we’ve always had an array of academic support.”

The goal is to provide academic enhancement and quality enhancement services at the center so students can get help easily, said the center’s executive director, Joshua Adams. He was hired for the position in June, and he immediately began researching student and faculty needs through listening tours and looking at data.

“The intent of the Pioneer Center is to have a series of programs and services that I’m calling academic enhancement and co-located service,” Adams said. “We can serve as a point of entry for students when they have a question, concern or need assistance, and we will either help them out or direct them to where they need to go.”

A few programs are now being implemented as the center begins to help students. One is academic coaching, where students help other students plan out their semester. The coach will help a student set goals and timelines for their coursework, understand their syllabi and help with academic skills, Adams said.

“It’s helping — it’s exactly what you would think of in terms of coaching,” he said. “They aren’t doing their work or tutoring. They are there as a support mechanism for students.”

In addition to programs, offices for internships, study-abroad programs and advising will be located at the center.

There is also new technology aimed to help students adapt to the latest technologies, Adams said. There will be regular video conferencing between the Denton, Dallas and Houston campuses to help students learn how to give virtual presentations.

“In today’s work world, that’s definitely a needed skill and something that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people,” he said.

While the center is now up and running, this is still a starting point, Adams said.

“We’re really mining the data and looking at our student needs, and seeing what programs and services we can develop and implement on our campus,” he said. “It really is a growing effort, with the goal of strengthening our institution and affecting our students’ experiences in a positive way.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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