Off Campus Connections Recognized for Adult Learners Program from NASPA

At the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators annual conference Off Campus Connections was awarded recognition for Outstanding Undergraduate Adult Learner Program.

The award recognizes “an outstanding entity/program within a higher education institution that provides exceptional support — characterized by a collection of creative methods — to undergraduate adult learners.”

Nominees and award recipients must break new ground in serving adult learners, raise awareness in the surrounding community, and make an exceptional impact.

Award criteria for proposals included:

  • Addresses needs of undergraduate nontraditional students or adult learners to encourage persistence
  • Shows involvement, inclusion, and collaboration with others
  • Uses innovative and creative methods, practices, or activities
  • Imbedded with a practice of outcomes and assessment

Sylvia Scott, director of OCC, and Susan Stiers, associate director of OCC, accepted the award for the office at the conference. Both administrators have been with the department since 2004. Stiers’ main focus in the department is adult learners, and both Stiers and Scott prepared the proposal that shows a comprehensive look at all of the work and support OCC gives to the undergraduate nontraditional student community at the University of Arkansas.

Highlights from OCC’s proposal were collaborations with campus and community entities resulting in scholarships for adult learners, recognition and inclusion programs for nontraditional students, and awareness efforts and resources for the community and students alike.

“I think what we wanted to focus on more than anything was the recognition pieces, because our adult learners need support — personal support,” Stiers said.

“Their lives don’t always allow for a lot of the traditional experiences, so that kind of leaves it lacking in a traditional student environment,” Scott said. “These students might be working or have families and responsibilities outside of school, and they’re just trying to get through class.”

Off Campus Connections focuses on finding nontraditional students who come from all different backgrounds and motivations for pursuing their degrees and providing them with a personal connection and relationship they can lean on through the realities of being a nontraditional student on a traditional campus.

“They feel like others look at them and don’t see a student because they sometimes don’t look like a traditional student, and we want them to know that they are recognized, they are appreciated, and they are not invisible,” Scott said.

Along with the proposal, nominees for the award were required to submit a letter of support from their institution. Alice Griffin, director of curriculum review and program assessment, gave her support to Off Campus Connections for the award. Griffin gave her support not only for OCC’s commitment to supporting the academic pursuit of students, but for their willingness to go the extra mile for adult learners.

“Without their efforts many of our adult learners would likely feel overwhelmed from the multitude of obstacles they face to stay engaged in school,” Griffin wrote. “I wholeheartedly endorse this team for this award.”


-Courtesy of Arkansas Newswire

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