Desiring to create an experience that transforms how students approach their work and manage their entire collegiate career, Wittenberg University is launching Compass, a new program for engaged learning and student success. Made possible by a lead gift with additional support from Wittenberg’s Student Senate and the Classes of 2015 and 2016, Compass will officially open in August 2016.
Slated for the main floor of Thomas Library in the heart of campus, Compass will house multiple offices and student services in an inviting, open space that aims to inspire creative thinking, solution-driven problem-solving and collaboration between students, faculty and staff.
“Wittenberg has always insisted on maintaining a culture of success for our students by providing collaborative learning opportunities, encouraging persistence in one’s efforts, and ensuring that students have the support they need to achieve their goals,” said Jon Duraj, associate dean of students, student success and retention. “Compass takes our ongoing commitment to a whole new level.”
A one-stop approach for students as they plan and execute their path to success at Wittenberg, Compass will combine nine different offices/services currently located in four different facilities on campus. These areas include: student success, academic services, disability services, career services, success ambassadors, academic coaching, tutoring, the Oral Communication Center and student employment. In addition, conversations are underway to have satellite offices for financial aid, student accounts and the registrar during peak weeks throughout the academic year. The program will also assist in connecting students to high-impact practices such as internships, faculty/student research opportunities, community service and engaged learning opportunities.
“The lack of physical cohesion in student support at times has created a barrier to student success,” Duraj explained. “Compass will reduce that barrier.”
By assisting all students in the development and accomplishment of their academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, career and vocational goals, Compass will also unite essential components of the Wittenberg experience under one roof.
“The environment created through Compass will blend a student’s experience and deconstruct the often compartmentalized structure of campus space usage,” said Mary Jo Zembar, interim provost and professor of psychology. “This blending will reinforce the intentional integration of a student’s academic experience with life outside the classroom to ensure student success and persistence at Wittenberg.”
It will also allow for the offices themselves to partner in idea generation as it pertains to a students’ overall success.
“I think Compass will provide greater collaborative opportunities for the library and the offices that are moving into the space,” said Doug Lehman, director of the Thomas Library.
Student Senate agrees.
“Compass will serve as a hub for students on campus by providing more seating and collaborative spaces for students to utilize for multiple purposes within the space,” said Zach Lough, president of Student Senate, which engaged the student body through surveys and focus groups to uncover their needs and expectations for such a center.
“Our overall hope for the project is that the new collaborative work spaces, fresh environment and coffee shop will draw more students to our library, while also giving students the opportunity to utilize very important and helpful services on campus in one central location,” Lough said.
Renovation of the far wing of the library’s main floor is currently underway with Springfield-based Kapp Construction and McCall Sharp Architects leading the effort. Encompassing approximately 5,000 square feet, the project will cost between $400,000 and $500,000 and will also include a remodeled professional conference room.
Additionally, multiple types and styles of student work spaces and collaboration pods, plenty of different open air study environments suitable to inducing creative learning, glass walls, tutoring rooms and group study rooms will also greet students when they return Aug. 22 for the start of classes.
“We are confident that Compass will quickly become THE place on campus for our students to gather,” Duraj said. “Not only will it help students achieve their academic and professional success, but it will facilitate their personal success, too.”