UP Online Seminar Focuses on Retention of Online Students

University College (UC) hosted the fifth annual meeting of the University Partners for Online Education Strategies (UP Online) on Nov. 9, 2018. The annual meeting brings together regional colleagues working in online education to share ideas, address common problems, build networks and support professional development. Educators and administrators from 11 four-year higher education institutions gathered for the program that featured Jasmeial “Jazz” Jackson, associate dean of First Year Experience and Retention Programs at Southern New Hampshire University.

Jackson talked about the challenges in retaining students. “This is a challenge for all institutions serving an online population that are balancing competing priorities,” he said. Barriers that contribute to poor retention include student motivation, mindset, work-life balance, and finances.

Jackson said in order to retain online students institutions must remain involved and supportive. Studies show that such strategies as student integration and engagement, learner-centered approaches, learning communities and accessibility to online student services will promote student success.

Retention efforts at University College span several departments. UC has always been a “high-touch” institution that supports its diverse population. The student services office has certified life coaches that take a holistic approach to advising. This form of advising takes into account the students’ academic and life goals, and situational issues such as financial aid, childcare and tutoring needs.

Student success coordinators in the Office of Student Success ensure student persistence through proactive engagement. The coordinators do not wait for a student to reach the point of failure; they address issues and barriers before they lead to a student withdrawing from classes. “We provide an exceptional and approachable atmosphere where students can feel connected to their support network and know that someone can get their questions answered,” says Liz Green, director of the Student Success Office. “As our online programs continue to grow, we anticipate we will expand our initiatives to empower students to embrace their academic and personal goals.”

For more information about academic support services at University College, contact 315.443.3261 or email

Center for Online and Digital Learning Expands to Keep Pace with Growing Demand for Online Courses

University College’s Center for Online and Digital Learning (CODL) is a signature One University initiative and a strategic response to the growing demand to quality online programming at Syracuse University.

woman sitting at table

Emily Luther, University College instructor for the Bachelor of Professional Studies Program, videotapes the course she is teaching, Digital and Business Communication for Professionals.

The center was launched in 2017 and now includes a state-of-the-art video production studio that incorporates animation, graphics and assessment to create an interactive experience for optimal learning.

Currently, ten staff members support six schools/colleges throughout the University. Instructional designers, multi-media specialists, videographers and directors offer expertise in design, technology, education, graphic art, project management and radio and television.

In addition to creating online courses and programs for University College, the team is developing programming for the School of Education, Falk College, College of Law, Whitman School of Management and College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“We project working on approximately 200 courses over the next three years,” says Tom Downes, assistant director of CODL. “The content development for the courses will vary based on what the schools/colleges need.” Downes says that additional positions within the center would be considered as partnerships across the University continue to expand to meet the growing number of online students.

ELI Students Share Insights on Being an International Student

When international students travel to the United States to learn English, the language barrier is just one of their challenges. Cultural differences like being overwhelmed in the grocery store, being embarrassed about not tipping a server (there is no tipping in China) or learning where to get help in serious situations are a few of the struggles they encounter.

During the 2017-18 academic year, students from Japan, China, Norway, South Korea, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia were able to put their experiences and feelings on paper.

As part of a writing project, the students were given autobiographical and creative writing prompts that encouraged them to reflect on what it means to travel abroad to improve their English language proficiency.

The project was a collaboration between Syracuse University’s English Language Institute (ELI) and New City Community Press. The ELI provides intensive English instruction to approximately 300 international students who attend the program each year. Steve Parks, Syracuse University associate writing professor and founder of New City Community Press, published their collection of stories in a book titled, “Becoming International: Musings of Studying Abroad in America.”

“At first the students did not think of themselves as authors,” says Amy Walker, an ELI instructor who wrote the book’s introduction. “They did not see the benefit of the project because their sole reason for attending the ELI was to obtain enough English proficiency for admission to an American undergraduate or graduate degree program.”

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Bandar AlHoraibi from Saudi Arabia has his book, “Becoming International,” signed at book signing.

Walker adds that once the project was underway, unexpected positive outcomes started to appear for both the students and the teachers.

“The authors were brave. They allowed themselves to be vulnerable. They wrote about personal topics in a language that they had varying degrees of control over,” says Walker. “In the end, the students gained more confidence in their English and became more grounded in this U.S. collegiate environment.”

Huan-Chen Tseng from Taiwan wrote about his feelings of isolation when he first arrived in the United States. “In Taiwan, I am the oldest grandson on both sides of the family, so I have more responsibilities and benefits than the other grandchildren. However, in the United States, I’m just alone,” said Tseng. “I am nobody in the United States because nobody knows me, and I don’t have any friends here.”  During the fall 2017 semester when Tseng was on campus, he made friends and began to adapt to American habits. He acknowledged that this experience would help him in the future.

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ELI students featured in book, Joakim Olsen (Norway), Yuan Cheng (China), and Amy Walker, ELI instructor, talk to the audience.

Eighteen-year-old Yongbin Yang noted one of the most difficult things about adapting to American culture is learning to be independent and manage his finances. “I came to the U.S., so I can’t rely on my parents anymore,” he wrote. “I need to take care of myself and think about every decision and its consequences. Finances will always be a big problem.” Yang said he can’t always buy things he wants because he has to balance his monthly budget. “But the process of becoming independent makes me feel better. I feel I am growing up.”

In partnership with Syracuse University Libraries, the English Language Institute hosted a book launch in September at Bird Library. Copies of the book are available for purchase on Amazon.

University College Organizes Tree Planting Project to Commemorate 30th Anniversary of Pan Am 103 Bombing

University College has organized a tree planting project with departments across campus to commemorate the 30thanniversary of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Working with Larry Mason, professor of visual communications in the Newhouse School and Syracuse University Remembrance and Lockerbie ambassador, University College responded to Chancellor Kent Syverud’s request that schools and colleges across campus consider initiating a positive project to help commemorate this significant anniversary.

In all, 270 men, women and children died in the terrorist bombing on Dec. 21, 1988. Thirty-five students studying abroad with Syracuse University were among the victims. Thirty-five trees, representing these students, will be planted on South Campus on Friday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The trees are a mix of Autumn Blaze Maples and Sienna Glen Maples. ReLeaf Syracuse, a City of Syracuse initiative, will supply the trees at cost.

A Sienna Glen Maple.

A Sienna Glen Maple.

Members of the planning committee include representatives from Campus Planning, Design and Construction (CPDC), Physical Plant’s (PP) buildings and grounds department, and Energy Systems and Sustainable Management (ESSM).

“This represents a great collaboration between the University and the City of Syracuse,” says Joseph Alfieri, director of CPDC, “and at the same time has significant environmental benefits.”

“The timing of the tree planting project coincides with Campus Sustainability Month [October],” adds Nathan Prior, ESSM director. “Not only will the trees be a living memory for the 35 students lost, the planting will help with the campus’ sustainability goals to mitigate carbon emissions. The trees will convert the carbon dioxide, about 48 pounds per year, into food and growth.”

“When professor Mason came to University College asking us to consider becoming involved in a 30th-annivesary endeavor, we were more than willing to participate,” says Eileen Jevis, communications manager and project coordinator. “So many of us remember that fateful day and the powerful impact it had on our community. What better way to commemorate this anniversary than planting a lasting reminder of those students who died.”

Jevis recounts that when she took the idea to colleagues across campus, it was met with enthusiasm and support. “From the very start, those in CPDC, ESSM and PP buildings and grounds were committed to making this happen,” she says. “Their support and involvment is testiment to our shared belief that this symbolic jesture of longevity, tranquility and life is an appropriate way to memorialize the students.”

Seventy volunteers are needed to help plant the trees. Holes will be pre-dug; however, it is suggested that those willing to help bring along a shovel and pair of gloves. Volunteer registration is online. Volunteers should park in Carriage House lot 161, Farm Acre Road on South Campus. University College will provide lunch at the Skybarn for volunteers and project partners.

For more information, contact Eileen Jevis at 315.443.3527 or

University College Wins Award for 100th-Anniversary Campaign

The marketing team that promotes University College of Syracuse University has won a bronze award in the 2018 University Professional Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) Marketing Awards Competition. The awards recognize the best marketing practices and promotional pieces in the field of professional, continuing and online education.

University College’s 100th-Anniversary advertising campaign took bronze in the Interactive Media category. It recognizes the significant achievements of SU’s division of part-time studies, which is celebrating its 100th year of creating opportunities for nontraditional students. The award will be presented at UPCEA’s Annual Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar in November.

UC was recognized for a multifaceted interactive media campaign that used testimonial-driven promotions to showcase UC’s impact on the lives of part-time students. A testimonial wall installation in the UC lobby at 700 University Ave. features the words of many students and faculty, past and present. A four-minute video features UC alumni sharing individual stories of perseverance, achievement and triumph during their journey to an SU degree, which they all achieved as nontraditional students juggling numerous real-life responsibilities. The video was featured at a gala celebration held on campus Oct. 6 as a fundraiser for the newly established Centennial Scholarship for part-time students.

UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. It provides innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking and timely publications.

University College has been providing access to Syracuse University academic programs and support services to diverse part-time student populations since 1918.