Student success center: new staff

Abby Taylor

Staff Writer

With a computer lab, writing center, career counselors and more, Eldridge Hall assists students with their needs to help them be successful.

“The central focus of our building is engagement that leads to retention,” said Jonathan Cellon, the new associate dean of first-year studies.

Cellon, along with Patricia Harris, the new coordinator of the writing center, take on different roles this semester.

“They (Cellon and Harris) are great people  or else they wouldn’t have been selected, but they are filling real big shoes,” said Hal Fulmer, associate provost and dean of undergraduate and first-year studies.

Cellon previously served as the coordinator of civic engagement, where he helped create Campus Kitchens, Backpacks for Kids and anti-bullying campaigns.

“As I transition into the associate dean role, I look forward to taking on the initiative and leadership qualities and expanding what we’re able to provide and help students with,” Cellon said.

Cellon will have many different responsibilities as the associate dean, such as overseeing Troy 1101 University orientation, 1102 career exploration class, 1103 studies skills class and 3301 career development/prep class for upperclassmen pre-internship/graduation.

“There’s built-in relationships with students we serve,” Cellon said. “We are going to continue to emphasize a relational approach to student assistance, rather than a transactional approach.”

Fulmer said that the positions were filled by running a search on the computer to see who was most qualified, and there may be an additional position to fill soon.

“I have requested permission to fill the opening of the office of civic engagement,” Fulmer said.  “That area has become a very vital part of the campus, and we have a number of significant projects already underway this spring.”

Patricia Harris is now the coordinator of the writing center and will be helping prepare tutors to help students with their writing.

“She will in many ways continue what we have done for many years, and that is provide the kind of tutoring and assistance for students who need help with writing,” Fulmer said. “That’s what we do in the writing center, using students who are trained and selected in that purpose.”

Harris will help schedule, provide support for students and provide tutors with training.

“We have level one certification with an international writing center organization, which means that all of our tutors are professionally trained and become certified writing tutors,” she said.

Harris said she wants to provide support to international students by offering a “read and talk” program for students to come together once a month to be encouraged in reading.

“We help people with their writing, and we help people with reading issues,” Harris said. “We have a significant percentage of students coming through who are international, and their first language is not English.”

The reading center will be starting a “reading for pleasure” program where students can read graphic novels.

“We have a lot of people who do not read for pleasure, and because they are not readers, that means that every text they read in a reading-intensive class is a problem for them, so how can we make them successful?” Harris said.

On Thursday nights and Sunday nights, there will be tutoring sessions held in the library to assist students with reading and writing.

“We’re trying to take what we do and grow it, so that’s what I do here.”

Previously, Harris taught English at the University of Michigan, and she said she plans to pull on her experience there to help her as coordinator.

“I want them (students) to feel hopeful,” Harris said. “I want them to not give up on themselves. I want them to know that if they come here, they have a welcoming place where there are knowledgeable people who are ready to help them.”

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