Student Support Services creates the Runway Learning Center


The Hangar, located on the third floor of Sacred Heart Hall, will be flying into the fall semester with a new look and a new name — Runway Learning Center. Student Support Services will be restructured as well.

Case Bell, director of equitable access and international student services, said the restructuring came about as part of a reflective process that all programs must have.

“Every department should undergo some sort of self-evaluation on an annual or biannual basis. It should be a part of normal operations,” he said. “It has taken us some time to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so now that we’ve really got a handle on all that stuff, it was a good time to evaluate whether or not the responsibilities were with the best people and were matched well together.”

Bell will continue to oversee Title IX and American Disabilities Act processes but will now take on many tasks with Newman’s international students, including helping with paperwork, insurance and orientation.

Melody Head, administrator of Student Support Services, said the idea for the center is a complete change in ideas from the past.

“It’s a learning center. This is a different philosophy than what we have had before,” she said. “Students need a place where they can meet with professionals on campus — staff and faculty — and where they can learn those soft skills that are so important for employment.”

Head will coordinate all of the programs offered by Student Support Services along with continuing to lead career services and co-ops. She will also coordinate testing services.

Two of the walls in the Runway Learning Center will be painted with a kind of paint they can use dry-erase markers on. Head said they will also ideally have glass tops on the tables in the Runway, so students may write on those as well.

Debbie Haslam, coordinator of early intervention and tutoring services, said this change in look will give the staff more opportunities to reach out to students.

“It’s a space not just for students to get tutoring help or help from our other services,” said Haslam, “but also a place to socialize and hang out and feel comfortable coming to. So, we really felt like changing up the environment a little bit and making it more friendly and inviting was important.”

Haslam will continue to oversee Project Care, while now overseeing all tutoring services.

Amy Larrea, advisor of special populations, said it is the goal of the Runway staff to be there for everyone in any circumstance.

“Everybody needs a place where they feel welcomed, and I think everybody needs a place to feel supported,” she said. “Some students seem to have found that on campus and I think others seem to not know where to fit or where to go and our office has repeatedly said, ‘If you don’t know where to go, come here and we’ll help you figure out what you will be.’”

Larrea will continue advising a variety of students academically, including new international students, undecided students and students who are undecided. She will also be in charge of proctoring ACT and SAT exams, CLEP tests and math and writing placement tests.

“We’re trying to make it so students can go, ‘This is a place I can be myself — somebody cares about me and somebody cares about my success,’” Larrea said.



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