History and Progression of the Academic Centers for Excellence (ACE)
University of South Carolina
Updated Tuesday, June 21st 2011
The Academic Centers for Excellence (ACE) offers all students at the University of South Carolina a wide range of academic resources, including study skill development, math tutoring, peer tutoring, writing consultations, self-assessments, online resources, and academic success coaching. ACE is an office of programs and services – focused exclusively on academic support and academic recovery/interventions – within the Student Success Center. (The Student Success Center offers more holistic student support, including Financial Literacy programs, cross campus advising, and Transfer Support.) ACE is funded by both University Housing and the Student Success Center and is part of the Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support.
History of the Academic Centers for Excellence (ACE)
1995: Dr. Gene Luna (then Director of University Housing) and Andy Fink (then Associate Director of Residence Life) worked to create an “academic buzz” in the residence halls. This emphasis led to the onset of the Resident Assistant Student Success Initiative (SSI), several living and learning communities, the Out-to-Lunch faculty/student interaction program, and the development of ACE.
ACE began in three first-year residence halls (Towers, Sims Hall, Columbia Hall) spread across three areas of campus (North, Central, and South), offering residential students math tutoring and writing consultations. These services were delivered through a partnership with the respective academic departments, Math and English. Students were able to use ACE services by meeting with tutors and consultants at their convenience.
Fall 2005: Within the office of Residential Learning Initiatives/University Housing, Anna Mcleod and Jimmie Gahagan received a SEED grant to develop an additional service within ACE offering study skill development resources. Given there was no other area on campus students could go to receive basic academic help, ACE was able to fulfill this need.
Fall 2006: The Division of Student Affairs took on new responsibilities and several new initiatives under the title “academic support”. Special emphasis was placed on retention initiatives, as the Board of Trustees charged the campus to move from an 86% first to second-year retention rate, to a 90% retention rate. A new office was created under the leadership of Dr. Chrissy Coley, the Student Success Center (SSC). The SSC’s mission is to offer several support services and to serve as a comprehensive center. The SSC also included an ACE office in order to be a “one stop shop” for students. The SSC gave ACE its fourth location on campus, and was open to all students at USC (not solely residential students.)
Fall 2007: ACE academic success coaching services expand from just study skills to a wider range of services, including advising, mentoring, and general academic success strategies. Coaches are seen as a key component to helping students transition to USC, creating an ACE Academic Plan, connecting with professors, and navigating the many campus resources. Through several successful partnerships, ACE Coaching quickly became a highlighted resource on campus.
Fall 2008: In addition to the continued offering of math tutoring and writing consultations, twenty-three graduate students currently serve as ACE Academic Success Coaches. With the guidance of Dr. Jenny Bloom, Appreciative Advising is now an integral part of ACE Coaching. Coaches use the five stages – disarm, discover, dream, design, deliver – to help students reflect on their passions and strengths, while building a plan for their future success. In October 2008, ACE received College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) Level 3 certification for the Coaching program.
Spring 2009: All first- year academically deficient students on USC Columbia’s campus will be mandated to come to an ACE appointment and meet with an ACE Coach before being able to register for fall classes. This mandate targets students early in their college career and help them develop a plan to get their GPA above the probation status. Also, in December 2009 ACE received the Bronze NASPA award in the academic support category, recognizing the ACE Coaching program as a national model.
April 2011: ACE moves under the SSC, but still retains a close connection to University Housing to deliver programs and services to residential students. The SSC takes on a more life skill support focus with Financial Literacy, expands Cross Campus Advising and Transfer and Veteran Student Services, and retains the SI program. The First-Year Call Center, course specific peer tutoring and Class Absence Referral (CAR) program are moved under ACE – streamlining all academic support and academic recovery/interventions.