The mission statement of the Talent Development Program is being changed to reflect a stronger focus on promoting student success after a program review this past March.
They found that the original mission of the Talent Development Program, which was to promote access to students to higher education, should be more focused on promoting student success and increasing graduation rates. Results from this review stated, “We recommend, therefore, that the TD Program mission pivot from one of creating access to one of promoting student persistence to success (defined as learning, persistence and degree completion).”
Spearheaded by Kathy Collins, vice president of Student Affairs, the review process’s goal was not to dismantle the talent development program, but, according to Collins, was a “review of programs and units based on mission goals of the institution.” Director Gerald Williams explained that as far as he knew, the talent development program had never been reviewed in the almost 50 years of its existence.
“This is its first review and so, of course, having a review of this magnitude somewhat set’s your nerves afire a little bit because you don’t really know what to expect and you wonder if it is an attack on the program or you wonder if it is really as Kathy alluded to,” Williams said.
Williams adds that, “I think anytime change comes, there’s a sense of trepidation as it relates to what you’re used to. And whether or not some of the things you’re used to will continue.”
Both Williams and Collins are very proud of the results of the comprehensive review and are looking forward to the future of talent development. Williams said, “it actually did not come out to where the program was under review to be dismantled but in fact we’re excited of the recommendations and actually a sense of rejuvenation in the program in terms of making sure that students success or scholarly success.”
Collins is hoping that with a change in mission there will be more graduates from the Talent Development Program. “We in the state of Rhode Island need more college graduations,” Collins said. “The jobs that are coming to the state require a college degree.”
The comprehensive review has three parts to it: a self-study done by members of the program itself, an external review by experts in the specific field and a response to the final report and a timeline for implementation called the Action Plan Phase.
Williams was very impressed by the internal review that was done. “The eye-opening point of the self-study is really where it involves just the people who are on the staff itself and what their vision, how they see the program and how it operates… and what they may want to see change in the future,” Williams said.
The comprehensive review program review was introduced to the University by Kathy Collins, who implemented similar review processes in her previous institutions. “We do as a program review process because it allows us to take a close look at ourselves, ask some really important questions, and then use the information we gathered from that process to improve the student services that we provide to the students at the University of Rhode Island,” Collins said.
They are currently reviewing the Memorial Union, whose external review will take place next October so that students will be able to be involved in the process. This will be followed by Recreation Services, Campus Stores, Dean of Students, Housing and Residential Life, Dining Services, Counseling Services, Health Services and ending with Conference and Special programs. According to Collins, there will be a comprehensive program review process every five years with two departments being reviewed each year.