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Rio Salado College, UMGC Presidents Urge Colleges, Universities to Take Time to ‘Listen’ to Students

headshot of Rio Salado College President Kate Smith headshot of UMGC President Dr. Greg Fowler

Rio Salado College, UMGC Presidents Urge Colleges, Universities to Take Time to ‘Listen’ to Students

Rio Salado College defines its mission as “anticipating the needs of our students and future workforce” and supporting “learners where they are.” As an educational institution that reaches a high population of underrepresented students, the first step is to listen to the population being served.

Rio President Kate Smith and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) President Gregory Fowler outline the need for all colleges and universities to take this approach in their editorial published this month in the UK’s Times Higher Education online publication, The Campus. The article highlights the growing statistics among today’s college population: 64 percent of students work while they attend school, 37 percent of students are 25 years or older, and that figure is expected to continue to climb. Student success rates are startling, with less than half of adult learners completing a degree in six years, they share.

Each college president outlines steps their institutions have taken to reach these often underserved populations. They also presented stories of student success, including Rio Salado’s own Cordero Holmes, a father of four who discovered Rio Salado while imprisoned.

The two college presidents note in the article:

“If we aspire to non-traditional results, we must embrace non-traditional approaches. This includes abandoning academic practices that are not relevant to these learners and continually devising innovative ways to use technology and different learning methods to build a sense of community and provide the structural support and resources that match learners’ individual realities.” 

Read more in, “If we want non-traditional results, we need non-traditional approaches.”

Rio Salado College President Kate Smith and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) President  Gregory Fowler are members of the Presidents Forum which published the Learners First Framework this year, an initiative designed to outline and promote pathways to meet the unique needs of today’s learners.

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