Report: Caring Campus: An Initiative to Involve Community College Staff in Increasing Student Success

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By Susan Bickerstaff, Elisabeth A. Barnett & Andrea Lopez Salazar

Despite research pointing to the crucial role nonacademic staff play in student success in higher education, large-scale reform efforts at community colleges and elsewhere typically focus little direct attention on interpersonal interactions between students and staff. Caring Campus is a program developed and administered by the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) to engage faculty and nonacademic staff—including individuals from financial aid, counseling, public safety, facilities, and enrollment management—in improving interactions with students and creating a culture of caring at community colleges.

This brief introduces CCRC’s research on the staff-focused Caring Campus initiative. It discusses the importance of nonacademic staff to the postsecondary experience and then presents a theory of change for the Caring Campus approach. Drawing on observations at six colleges and interviews conducted with 20 representatives from nine colleges and IEBC staff, the brief also describes initial findings related to the initiative’s potential to affect college culture and ground further change efforts.

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