New faculty position to help navigate student success

Student Success’ recently inaugurated “navigators” have taken an important role on campus, securing undergraduate students with ongoing support and extra-curricular opportunities. The new faculty position is intended to help students with a smoother undergraduate experience by connecting them with resources both on and off campus.

Navigators, according to Student Success, serve to guide and advocate for students throughout their undergraduate career. Their primary job is to understand, support and connect students with resources and individuals specific to their needs.

“We’ve heard from students that sometimes they feel alone [or] isolated with no network to offer guidance, encouragement and people focused on their overall well-being while on campus,” said Tom Matthews, Interim Vice President of Student Success. “Navigators and faculty advisors will work closely together in support of their students.”

Nearly half of the navigators relocated from other positions at the University, while the rest came from post-secondary academic settings across the country.

Navigators will make students aware of various opportunities on campus, post-graduation endeavors and other aspects of their collegiate careers that might otherwise go unnoticed in light of busy schedules. They also serve as wellness watchdogs; ensuring that students are emotionally fulfilled throughout their undergraduate journey. Each student is paired with a navigator upon their enrollment who will remain a resource for them throughout their time at Case Western Reserve University.

“Faculty advisors are the primary contact for all academic issues, including advising, and the navigator is the point of contact for issues primarily outside of the classroom,” Matthews said.  “As we know, sometimes the lines blur and a student can reach out to either one first, knowing the other will be apprised of the situation.”

A recommendation from the Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) suggested that CWRU create a team of advisors to support the growing complexity of student lives. The position was officially created by President Barbara Snyder under the Student Success Initiative, and was supported by a $500,000 academic leadership award from the Carnegie Corporation.

In response to the CUE’s request for the University to continue with the interconnectedness of student life, already-operating student advocacy offices—including the Career Center, First-Year Experience and Education Services—were consolidated into one office with one goal: student success. Navigators work out of this office.

“This model is designed to provide students the information, guidance and support they need throughout their undergraduate experience,” Matthews said. “[Navigators] are available year round, able to help with any questions, concerns and/or ideas.”

CWRU hopes that the role of the navigator will broaden the resources available to students outside of the academic realm, as they are now students’ main point of contact for circumstances ranging from tutoring inquiries to wellness concerns to internship opportunities.