Office of Student Success recognized for inclusive programs, achievements

1/8/2018

The office is a recipient of this year’s Distinguished Diversity Leaders Awards, awarded by University of Michigan.

Office of Student Success
Members of the Office of Student Success received U-M’s Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award. From left: Traci Ballard, Tyler Guenette, Amy Finley, Perry Boyd, Aryka Rice and Sharon Lobdell.)

The Office of Student Success guides students from economically disadvantaged areas through their college journey—academically, financially and socially. The team connects adult learners to resources that help them balance prior responsibilities and education. An office-housed program increases high school retention and prepares students for postsecondary education.

For this work and more, University of Michigan named the Office of Student Success a recipient of the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award.

The awards—established in 2008 by UM-Ann Arbor’s Office of the Provost and University Human Resources—recognize staff members and teams that work toward achieving a welcoming, supportive and inclusive working environment.

Dean of Students Amy Finley, formerly the Office of Student Success director, said it was an honor to have the university recognize the team’s efforts among the work being done at the three University of Michigan campuses and the health system.

She said it is important to acknowledge the equity gap that exists for some students, like those who come from disadvantaged economic situations or who are first-generation college students. Finley said research shows they are more likely to experience challenges than their advantaged colleagues.

“If we can help students get an education, earn their degrees, and then turn around and be leaders and productive citizens, that will be the difference—the difference for them, their families, our communities,” Finley said. “Whether we are looking at year-to-year retention, time-to-degree or graduation rate, we are continuously working to bridge some of that equity gap. And this team is doing it in a variety different ways while continuing to be a visible resource to the entire campus.”

The award, which was presented to the team in December on the UM-Ann Arbor campus, celebrates teams or individuals who embrace the value of diversity and recognize how it helps set the university apart.

"Diversity is a key ingredient in the excellence of the University of Michigan. When we engage with people from different backgrounds, we learn more and have greater potential to make an impact on our students, patients and society,” said University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel. “We cannot be excellent without being diverse."

The Office of Student Success’ Tutor Services Coordinator Sharon Lobdell, who nominated the team for the award, said the office is a place where students can seek guidance, get academic support or just come in to say hello.

“We embrace all students. We embrace all members of the campus community. And we want to keep doing what we do and help more students realize their dream of receiving a college degree,” she said.

Finley said the recognition from the campus community at large was both heartening and encouraging.

“This award is a reflection of the entire team, terrific professionals who are doing really amazing work,” she said. “The team does this work because it is the right thing to do and we love what we do. Getting this acknowledgment lets us know we are on the right track and to keep going.”