William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. is one of 27 colleges and universities across the country selected to join the first #RealCollege Institutional Capacity-Building Cohort (ICBC) of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, an initiative designed to focus on how colleges can support the basic needs of vulnerable students.
The Hope Center’s #RealCollege Survey is the nation’s largest and longest-standing rigorous assessment of students’ basic needs, offering colleges and universities an up-close look at often invisible challenges facing their students. The survey conducted in fall 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical role colleges play in meeting the basic needs of vulnerable students, from food to shelter to safety, as well as the need to strengthen and build integrated and collaborative ecosystems to meet students’ basic needs and promote academic success.
“We are delighted to have been chosen to participate in the Hope Center cohort,” says Eileen Lubeck, PsyD, William Paterson’s dean of students, noting that the University administered the Hope Center’s #RealCollege survey during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and found a high level of needs affecting students’ ability to persist in their studies. “We look forward to working closely with the Hope Center, and other institutions in the cohort, to learn how to better support our most vulnerable students and help them persist to graduation.”
The cohort initiative, which began in September and runs through May 2022, provides the participating colleges and universities with learning modules focused on assessment, support, driving state and federal policy and advocacy, and supporting the basic needs ecosystem. Each member institution will be represented by leaders including administrators, staff, faculty, and students. Sessions will offer deep analysis of the Hope Center’s research and annual surveys on students’ basic needs.
A team of William Paterson staff, faculty and students will participate in a series of workshops and coaching sessions designed to increase the ability to analyze students’ specific needs and implement strategies to support those needs. In addition to Lubeck, other members of the William Paterson #RealCollege Survey team include Linda Refsland, executive director, Academic Success Center; Carmen Ortiz, executive director, EOF and academic achievement; Daisy Rodriguez, MSW, LCSW, associate director, Counseling, Health and Wellness Center; Theresa Bivaletz, MSW, LSW, social worker for student support and resources; Sesime Adanu, executive director, institutional effectiveness; Wendy Christensen, PhD, professor of sociology; and Claudia Morales ‘22, a student and vice president of the judicial review board of the William Paterson Student Government Association.
The Hope Center’s #RealCollege Survey is made possible by its member institutions as well as grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ECMC Foundation.