CORVALLIS - An Oregon State University educator with a long history of developing and implementing programs targeted at student success and retention has been named director of the university's new Academic Success Center.

Moira Dempsey moved into the post on April 1. She is the assistant director and coordinator of OSU's Academic Success Program at the Center for Writing and Learning.

The center will provide, or support, services key to the academic success of students, including advising undeclared students, tutoring, academic success courses, first-year experience, career development, and information and referral.

Center goals include improvement of student success, satisfaction, and retention; reduction of the time and effort spent by students to access services; increasing the institution's performance in key areas such as retention and graduation rates and decreasing the number of students on academic warning, probation or suspension, Dempsey said

"Moira has a long association with OSU, and her work is marked by a dedication to the success of all OSU students," said Sabah Randhawa, OSU vice provost for Academic Affairs and International Programs.

"As director, Moira will provide leadership for the center, serve as chair of Academic Learning Services, and will work closely in collaboration with academic and student support units, and an advisory group to be appointed in the near future," Randhawa said.

The focus of the center is to support and enhance the university's learning environment and promote student persistence and success through graduation and beyond. OSU hopes its achievements in those areas match the best land grant universities in the country, Dempsey said. "I'm very excited about this opportunity," Dempsey said. "This is a program that will be student-centered with lots of traffic moving through and it will be physically set-up for students. We will be focused on those initiatives that work best in helping students be academically successful."

Collaboration across campus with academic advisers and other student learning centers will be a focal point of her work.

Students praise the plan and feel it will offer widespread benefits to the campus, said Alison Hilburn, an OSU freshman in university exploratory studies from Salem.

"Having an Academic Success Center on campus will be an amazing resource for all OSU students," Hilburn said. "I think combining a lot of the campus academic help programs into one center will make it easy and fun for anyone to get academic help."

Hilburn was in Dempsey's Transitional Learning Community last fall. The community is a group of 15 first-year students taking the same cluster of courses, including a "success" course. Students in the community receive built-in academic support; have an easy way to make friends and form study groups, as well as opportunities to interact with a college instructor in a small group setting.

"I know Moira will do a wonderful job and the center will be a perfect place for students to go and get one-on-one help," Hilburn added.

Ideas for establishment of OSU's Academic Success Center came about during the campus' strategic planning process, as the university sought to develop initiatives to improve advising, retention, and success, Dempsey said.

Funding for the program has been safeguarded as part of the university's strategic plan, she said.

Dempsey earned both her graduate and undergraduate degrees from OSU. She designed and implemented Academic Passport, a pilot program for students reinstated after suspension. For two years, she has worked with others to establish transitional learning communities for first-year students.

She co-chairs the President's Commission on the Status of Women and serves on Faculty Senate.

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Moira Dempsey, 541-737-3709