PDCCC presents second annual event focused on student retention

Paul D. Camp Community College’s 2nd Annual Symposium on Student Success: Revisiting and Reviving Student Retention drew numerous faculty, staff, students and officials from surrounding schools and community colleges in order to gain insight and resources regarding student retention.
The workshop was presented by the Office of the Vice President for Academic and Student Development in collaboration with the Chancellor’s College Success Coach Initiative, the TRIO Student Support Services and the TRIO Upward Bound programs. Funding was provided by the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund Grant. Heather Sorrell, associate director of enrollment management and student support for the Virginia Community College System welcomed all to the program.
“This event was designed to provide an exceptional professional development opportunity for faculty and staff, as well as growth opportunity for students,” said Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady, vice president for academic and student development at PDCCC. “As educators, we all want students to achieve their academic and career goals, so this is a way for us to share knowledge and best practices that can help us help our students be successful.”
The symposium featured guest speakers Dr. Bethanie Tucker, an experienced consultant through aha! Process Inc. and professor of education at Averett University in Danville. She delivered a session titled, “Understanding and Engaging Under-Resourced College Students.” Dr. Buffy Smith, founding associate dean of Dougherty Family College and professor of Sociology at the University of St. Thomas, presented “Equity and Excellence: Navigating the Culture of Higher Education.”
In addition, Dr. Adolph Brown, founder, president and CEO of The Leadership & Learning Institutes, who has earned multiple degrees from the College of William and Mary, led an African-American male student focus group to gather information regarding enrollment, retention and completion rates in that demographic in a separate session. Ellis Cofield III of Franklin, a recent honor graduate of PDCCC, current student at Chowan University, and founder of his own peer-to-peer mentoring program, spoke to the students about leadership before everyone was brought together for the remainder of the symposium. PDCCC’s President, other administrators and leaders also shared insight with the participants.
A panel discussion included Brown, Smith and Tucker and was moderated by Travis Parker, director of the Upward Bound Program at PDCCC.
“We received and shared a whole lot of useful information including next steps to address retention such as what conversations we should be having and how we should be researching data,” said Dean of Student Services and Professional Counselor Trina Jones. Jones also served as project director for the event.
“An event on this scale can only be coordinated via teamwork,” she said. “I am so pleased with the cohesive collaboration we had from so many departments at PDCCC which allowed this workshop to be so successful. Retention is a very serious topic of educational institutions today and we wanted everyone to be able to take with them valuable information that they can apply in their classrooms, colleges and offices.”

Guest speaker Dr. Bethanie Tucker talked about under-resourced college students during her presentation.

PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin presents guest speaker Dr. Buffy Smith with an appreciation gift on behalf of the college.

College Success Coach Initiative Program Specialist Jamie Dodd and Student Activities Coordinator Justin Ellis served on the symposium project team. Ellis also presented.

Travis Parker moderated the panel discussion comprised of experts, seated from left, Dr. Adolph Brown, Dr. Buffy Smith and Dr. Bethanie Tucker.