Making the Grade

    1-4. The LSU Center for Academic Success, an NCLCA Learning Center of Excellence 5. Joseph Kelley and Melissa Brocato, director of the Center for Academic Success

    In 2015 the National College Learning Center Association named the LSU Center for Academic Success a Learning Center of Excellence, an honor bestowed upon only two centers. The center aims to help students develop critical thinking skills so that they become independent learners and proficient problem solvers long after graduation. By encouraging self-discovery and embracing learning as an active, ongoing process, the Center for Academic Success reinforces and extends classroom-based learning.

    The Center for Academic Success empowers students through research-founded and strategy-based techniques that give them a fresh perspective on learning. Free tutoring in person and online, student-led Supplemental Instruction, academic coaching sessions, workshops and programming help students increase their GPAs, stay in their majors of choice and graduate on time. Faculty-focused development facilitates the integration of high-impact practices into course instruction.

    The proof is in the numbers: the Center for Academic Success serves over half of LSU students, including 72 percent of first-year students. Students who use the center’s services graduate at a 30 percent higher rate than those who don’t. Supplemental Instruction attendees earn an average of a half of a letter grade higher and are nearly five times more likely to graduate. Students who attend academic coaching sessions better their course grade by an entire letter and their overall GPA by half of a point, on average. In addition, students report a boost in confidence.

    “The students also seem to gain a perspective on the material that you can only obtain through a relatable peer. Having also recently experienced the same confusions and mental blocks allows an SI Leader to understand the disconnect between the student’s intuition and the material's nuances,” said Brian Dupree, a Supplemental Instruction Leader.

    The estate of Lorraine Maher Kelley made a gift to the Center of Academic Success to honor the legacies of Lorraine and her husband, Gerald Francis Kelley. Gerald completed LSU’s engineering management program in 1971; Lorraine received her master’s in education from LSU in 1978. She devoted her life to ensuring that Louisiana provided academic resources for children with learning disabilities, as well as gifted and talented students. Their six children, Mary, Patrick, Joseph, John, Paul and Sharon, all followed their parents’ lead by attending LSU, and they, too, work in the education and engineering fields. They hope that the estate gift will continue Lorraine’s dedication to aiding in the educational advancement of students.

    Joseph, executor of his mother’s estate, shared, “When I was looking at the different giving options for LSU, I saw that the Center for Academic Success was for students who are struggling with different disciplines, one of which was engineering, my father’s area of study. Giving to the Center of Academic Success fits with my mother’s lifetime of helping struggling students make the grades and be successful. I thought it was an excellent fit. The Center for Academic Success gives them the building blocks and study habits that they need to make the grades.”

    The Center for Academic Success is one of LSU’s top fundraising priorities. With additional funding toward an overall goal of $5 million, the Center for Academic Success can make an even greater impact on performance, retention, and graduation rates for students campus-wide.

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