Cal State University San . Photo by Chris Stone

Cal State San Marcos received national recognition for the student coaching program that it launched last year, partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Friday.

CSUSM was selected to receive the 2021 American Association of State Colleges and Universities Excellence and Innovation Award for Student Success. The AASCU is an organization based in Washington, D.C., of nearly 400 state- supported colleges and universities throughout the country.

CSUSM is being honored for its Office of Success Coaching, which started in the summer of 2020 with a goal of providing equitable and personalized student support services to all newly admitted students for one year. The coaching program was chosen by the awards committee for its “outstanding results and potential to influence and serve as a model for other institutions,” a statement from the association read.

The official recognition will come on Nov. 7 during the hybrid annual meeting of AASCU, with winners invited to attend virtually or in person in Clearwater, Florida.

“The Office of Success Coaching was honored to receive such a prestigious award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities,” said Valita Jones, who directs the office at CSUSM. “We know that our students benefited from the personalized support, especially in a pandemic world.

“Our students have shared that they felt valued, supported and were motivated to achieve their best,” Jones concluded.

Last year, amid the pandemic, CSUSM created the success coaching program from scratch, reassigning almost 20 staff members, and training them so that they could assist and proactively connect with 1,550 students for the 2020- 21 academic year.

Success coaching is a scalable program focused on connecting students at the beginning of the student life cycle with recruitment, onboarding and student engagement, retention and applied learning.

Success coaches act as part personal — as opposed to academic — advisers and part cheerleaders, a CSUSM statement said. They are focused on eliminating equity gaps, promoting persistence and supporting retention efforts from a student-centered perspective.

AASCU’s Excellence and Innovation Awards recognize the exemplary work undertaken by member institutions in the areas of teacher education, civic learning and community engagement, international education, leadership development, student success, regional and economic development and sustainability and sustainable development.

“I am honored to recognize these Excellence and Innovation Award winners, who demonstrated immense creativity, resilience and dedication during an incredibly difficult year,” AASCU President Mildred Garcia said.

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