The Clock Tower Accords impact on enrollment efforts

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The Clock Tower Accords website tells only part of the story about the University’s efforts to support community-based initiatives. While many initiatives are detailed in the October 2014 agreement, not all of them originated at that time.

The University has made efforts towards at least some of the initiatives long before October of 2014. In fact, Jay Goff, VP of Enrollment and Retention Management mentions the University’s efforts and commitment towards diversity as the main reason why he came to SLU in the first place, back in 2012.

The fifth Clock Tower accord specifically mentioned developing bridge and summer programs to better support students in the Normandy and Shaw neighborhoods.

William Perkins, Director of Pre-College and Access Programs recently highlighted how the University has worked on partnership programs with Roosevelt High School in the Shaw neighborhood, creating a bridge program to improve the college readiness skills of middle and high school students.

The University also agreed to increase its support for schools in the immediate area. In working within the geographic zone around SLU’s campus, University officials have found that not all area schools are resourced well enough to support all types of college preparatory programs. The larger educational gap that exists cannot be bridged through a simple tutoring program, for instance.

According to Dr. Jonathan Smith, the issue is larger than just dropping a dozen undergrads off to tutor students once a week. The University plans to continue investigating ways to work with the underserved in and around the Normandy and Shaw neighborhoods, according to Smith.

With the additional staffing in pre-college and access programs and student financial services, SLU increased its outreach efforts throughout the metro area by offering more college readiness, college admissions and financial aid workshops. In 2015-16, SLU enrollment and retention management staff supported over 110 of such programs. In addition, the Office of Admission now makes at least two visits each year to high schools with the highest underrepresented student populations in each of the University’s metropolitan focus markets: Chicago, New Orleans, Memphis, Denver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Research conducted by both outside agencies, as well as within SLU, indicated that SLU could increase the underrepresented student population by broadening recruitment beyond traditional high school students.

More locally, the enhanced enrollment plan is to include “multiple access points” for first-generation college and disadvantaged students to become Billikens. The new transfer articulation plan will start with St. Louis Community College in the launch of the 2+SLU program, which will operate as a bridge and college completion effort for all area high school graduates. Serving as a dual admission program, students will take prescribed classes at any St. Louis Community College campus. Participating students will be admitted to SLU as long as they maintain a minimum college GPA of 2.75 in at least 10 college courses. A GPA of 3.25 will make a student scholarship-eligible.

An earlier article on the Clock Tower Accords, published on Nov. 3, 2016 mentioned that there was no update from the University in regards to a possible national conference on racial equality.

Dr. Jonathan Smith, Chief Diversity Officer, has since clarified that, indeed, the University is planning on holding just such a conference in the Fall of 2017 or the Spring of 2018. Smith also clarified that while there may not be an officially designated “diversity speaker series,” certainly the spirit of that accord is being met through funding he has been able to offer to bring speakers such as Janet Mock to campus. Mock is a transgender rights activist and author of the New York Times bestseller, “Redefining Realness.” She is scheduled to speak in March.