Taking the Initiative – The Engineering Student Success Center

Though only in its second year of operation, the Engineering Student Support Center is already receiving campus-wide recognition for the dynamic range of support services it provides. The Center’s programs are aligned with the goals of the Highly Valued Degree Initiative (HDVI), which is a campus-wide program that CSULB President F. King Alexander launched in 2010.

The HVDI challenges the CSULB community to find innovative ways to cut in half the “achievement gap”—the existing gap in degree attainment by underrepresented minority (URM) students—and to reduce the time it takes to earn a degree. The HDVI’s goals were particularly relevant to the College of Engineering (COE), where approximately 35% of all undergraduate students come from URM backgrounds and are graduating at rates that are significantly lower than those of their fellow students.

The COE embarked on an exhaustive evaluation of the root causes of this disparity among its students in an effort to design a program that effectively addresses them. “The challenge that we faced was to create a range of support services that is at once broad, integrated, and able to be tailored to meet the needs of each student,” said Dhushy Sathianathan, the COE’s associate dean for academic programs.

The result of this intensive effort is the Engineering Student Success Center (ESSC), which provides a proactive range of support services to all undergraduate Engineering students. Among the integrated support programs that it provides is academic advising, tutoring, professional development, and career guidance. “A key element of the ESSC’s student success strategy is close tracking of each student’s progress, and early intervention measures when needed,” said Dr. Sathianathan.

Since the ESSC’s launch, the graduation rate has risen from 585 to 671 per year, and the ESSC’s programs are believed to be a key contributing factor to this increased success.