- Cullman, Alabama

March 12, 2013

Wallace State representatives attend Achieving the Dream’s 2013 annual meeting on student success


HANCEVILLE — Interim Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Beth Bownes-Johnson and College Dean Johnny McMoy were among the group representing Wallace State Community College at a recent meeting of the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, along with Dr. Vince Tinto, whose groundbreaking work on student success has informed research and policy at the highest levels since his seminal work, “Leaving College,” was published in 1987.

Tinto’s work on college completion and the importance of learning communities in fostering student engagement and success continues to shape thinking about best practices in higher education nationally. It was the inspiration for Wallace State’s first learning communities begun several years ago as a collaborative effort between Bownes-Johnson’s English classes and Dr. Wes Rakestraw’s biology classes, two core subjects for entering students that are often referred to as “gatekeeper courses” because successful completion of these courses is a predictor of student retention and persistence in college.

Learning communities continue to be part of Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Hawsey’s Student Success Agenda. This fall Wallace State will introduce a greatly expanded selection of learning community opportunities. Hawsey, along with Student Services staff member Lisa Farnsworth, and Institutional Researcher Mattie Hudson were also in attendance at the national Dream 2013 Summit in Anaheim, Calif.

 Wallace State was one of 25 institutions selected in 2012 to join the Lumina Foundation’s prestigious Achieving the Dream network because of its strong commitment to student success and completion. Achieving the Dream is the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in U.S. higher education, and was conceived as an initiative by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations. The Achieving the Dream model is based on helping more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide.