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Oishei Foundation Helps Launch New Academic Achievement Center

Oishei Foundation Helps Launch New Academic Achievement Center

Posted: October 27, 2016

The John R. Oishei Foundation is helping Buffalo State provide greater academic support to its students through a $75,000 grant that will support the first-year salary for the director of the new Academic Achievement Center (AAC), which is expected to be fully operational by spring 2020.

Campus administrators including President Katherine Conway-Turner and Provost Melanie Perreault conceptualized the AAC as a one-stop shop that will centralize all academic support services in E. H. Butler Library, rather than have students seek help through offices scattered across campus.

Research has shown that such a comprehensive approach results in better student retention than having decentralized pockets of assistance.

The AAC will unite services that focus on student success such as Academic Support Services, the Writing Help Center, the Academic Center for Excellence, and Student Accessibility Services, as well as an array of support services already located in the library’s Information Commons.

Central to the first phase was hiring the AAC director, Aimee Woznick, in August. An experienced college success strategist, Woznick most recently served as the director of academic support services at SUNY Empire State College. She holds a doctorate in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a bachelor’s degree in English and Italian from the University at Buffalo.

“The Oishei grant was a key factor in enabling us to immediately create the new Drop-in Advising Center and support the salary of the director to jump-start the design of the center and integration of the academic support services that will be housed there,” Perreault said.

Woznick will supervise and coordinate efforts during the project’s design, bidding, and renovations and supervise three academic advisers. Already, four professional advisers from University College have moved into the new Drop-In Advising Center located within the Information Commons. They address general student concerns such as how to add or drop a class.

“The first week of class there was a line of people waiting for help,” Woznick said.  “Not only will the AAC improve and expand advisement, but having all the advising services under one roof will make it more visible and accessible. After all, students already think of the library as a place to study and learn.”

The AAC will enable the campus to realize the “Remedial Pathways” and “Finish in Four” initiatives articulated in the SUNY Completion Agenda. Eventually, the college will integrate a virtual concierge project that will create a web portal for non-academic support services such as the Registrar and Financial Aid.

“Ultimately,” Perreault said, “Butler Library will become a hub for face-to-face and virtual support services that will enable all Buffalo state students to get timely assistance for the vast majority of common academic issues.”

The John R. Oishei Foundation strives to be a catalyst for change to enhance economic vitality and quality of life for the Buffalo-Niagara region through grantmaking, leadership and network-building. The Foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corporation.

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