OSU Institute of Technology is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Awards.
The 2019 co-winners for the category of Collegiate Project are Financial Aid & Scholarships staff members; Matt Short, Chi Dungee, Dana Diamond, Sandy Whomble, Deborah McCrary, Gabriel Brant and Chelsea Henshaw for overcoming financial obstacles to retention along with instructors Tara Cole and Terry Hanzel for the Online Learning Community.
The winner of the category Service to OSUIT and/or Community is Kyle McCulloch for providing wireless internet in the dorms.
NISOD’s Excellence Awards recognize men and women each year who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to their students and colleagues.
Excellence Award recipients will be honored during NISOD’s annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence, May 25 - 28, in Austin, Texas.
Each award recipient will receive a specially cast, pewter medallion hung on a burnt-orange ribbon. The names, titles and colleges of all Excellence Award recipients are included in a special booklet that features congratulatory ads from many of the recipients’ colleges.
The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships identified that approximately 20 percent of eligible students were not receiving a scholarship for which they were qualified. To correct this, a plan was put in place for improvement.
The office created an outline of the process for awarding institutional scholarships, as well as Foundation scholarships, and documented eligibility criteria to create a programming language to pull different populations.
“The most challenging part of this project was the time to put it together and test all of the different pieces (awarding, canceling, notifying) and modifying what didn’t work,” said Short.
The program is now automated and runs daily throughout the term. New students who apply and enroll at different times during the semester will now be awarded. One hundred percent of eligible students are now receiving a tuition waiver or additional funding.
In addition to awarding more funding, this has also impacted manual labor with a reduction of 20 hours per week for five weeks each term. This has resulted in faster response time to inquiries and more time spent with students due to the reduction in data entry. Scholarship letters are now being prepared and sent approximately 60 days earlier than in the past.
“Often times, in the financial aid office, we hear feedback when something does not go well or does not meet someone’s expectations,” said Short. “It is gratifying to hear some positive feedback since the change.”
In an effort to share best practices among faculty for online courses, Tara Cole and Terry Hanzel created a monthly professional learning community, Online Learning Community.
The goal of OLC was to create an environment in which faculty could share strategies, best practices, ask questions about challenges and learn from others experience for teaching online in order to retain students.
Faculty members are now able to share and develop resources across departments. Resources such as assignments, discussion boards and rubrics are now able to be more uniform in structure across the online courses which makes navigation through the courses for students a more predictable and familiar experience.
“I love to see faculty feel more confident using the online platform and teaching their students online because they are able to apply some of the strategies and best practices we’ve discussed,” said Cole. “I am also encouraged to see student retention and success go up in my courses due to practices I’ve learned from other faculty members on campus.”
The challenge of effectively transitioning from face-to-face instruction to a quality online offering was a challenge for some faculty. OLC offers a way for faculty to share and learn from each other to impact student success.
Hanzel said that one of the greatest compliments you can give someone is to ask them a question, it implies trust and subject authority. He hopes this achievement will stir up more interest in the ongoing effort to make OSUIT a place where faculty and staff respect and learn from each other.
“We see the OLC evolving over time to better meet our faculty’s needs,” said Hanzel. “What started out as a new faculty meeting together to share ideas has now developed into a campus-wide resource.”
Service to OSUIT and Surrounding Community
After recognizing that students desired better internet access for their dorms, Kyle McCulloch took the initiative to make the upgrade.
Previously, students were purchasing their own wireless internet routers to connect to the internet in the dorms. On average each student has eight devices connected to the wireless network so the necessity of the switch was imminent.
McCulloch ensured the new system would be able to handle 10 devices per room in order to meet the needs of the students. Extensive testing was completed to ensure the new system met the needs of the student’s access.
In November the new wireless internet became available for the Garden Apartments, with the other campus dorms following suit in January.
McCulloch said it was of the utmost importance to him as a member of the OSUIT family and as an alumnus of the of the OSU A&M System that OSUIT students have the best quality, most robust and secure internet connection as possible.
“This experience has been humbling,” said McCulloch. “We are all a big family here at OSUIT and each of us is working our hardest to accomplish the same big-picture goals.”