UNA Residence Life Recognized For Student Success, Retention Initiatives

Mar. 14, 2012


FLORENCE, Ala. – The Department of Residence Life at the University of North Alabama was recently featured in a publication by the Association of Colleges and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I) for its initiatives to improve student success and freshmen retention rates.

Kevin Jacques, director of Residence Life, said officials with the publication stumbled upon some of his department’s annual planning on the UNA website and saw that the university had created a faculty staff position and other programs focused solely on success initiatives for students living in residence halls.

After corresponding with the author in January, the article entitled “Retaining Walls: Hall programs improve student retention” in the “Talking Stick: The Authoritative Source for Campus Housing” publication was released in early March. UNA and Iowa State University were the only two colleges featured in the article, which is distributed throughout the United States and across the world.

“We are thrilled,” Jacques said. “Any time we can have our institution featured in an international sense, nothing but positives can come out of it.”

According to Jacques, he was surprised to learn that the average grade point average for freshmen students living in residence halls was lower than he anticipated, even though a number of studies suggest that students who live on campus do better academically and are more likely to graduate from college than those who live off campus.

This knowledge helped to spark a specialized, freshman-oriented program to encourage students to make higher grades and keep them living on campus. Jacques also created a new position called Assistant Director of Residence Life for Success Initiatives. Jennifer A. Ballard, who previously worked at Western Kentucky University, now works in that position and develops programs, events, workshops, and information for freshman students to get better grades, feel more connected to UNA, and to feel they are at home while living on campus.

Another initiative that Jacques’ department is involved in to help students includes a student success center located on the ground floor of Rivers Hall. This center plans to include staffing from the Residence Life department and the Center for Writing Excellence to start. They also plan on partnering with Career Planning and Development to do occasional resume critiques and mock interviews.

For more information, contact the Department of Residence Life at 256-765-5558.