Student Success


Students are the heart and the soul of MCLA. At the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE), ensuring the success of all our students is at the center of its mission.

To create the Center, MCLA brought together Learning Services, Advising Services and Career Services. CSSE also enjoys important connections throughout the campus, including those with Student Affairs and Admissions. It is dedicated to students' academic success and how their co-curricular programs, interests, internships and employment can enhance their overall success and engagement at MCLA.

"This is an umbrella of services oriented around student success, as opposed to individual shops with individual paths," said Dr. Cynthia Brown, vice president of academic affairs. "We've always done advising well and academic support well, and have helped people to choose a career path. But, the fact that we're melding it all into one central place shows our commitment that students are the center. Students are an institutional priority."

According to CSSE Director Dr. Deborah Foss, the Center takes a very collaborative approach to looking at student success from multiple perspectives.

"It's not just about being successful in the classroom. It's being successful in terms of your development. Students come into college at a certain place and point in their lives and our role is to nurture them and provide support and engagement to enrich their lives so that they leave us at a higher level of development and achievement," Foss explained. "That's not just the role of academics. That's the role of every office and every person on campus."

The Center also provides a number of services - from disability services to seeing that first-year students take advantage of MCLA's speaker series. It also holds financial literacy workshops that teach students how to budget and to understand their student loans, as well as short- and long-term financial planning.

CSSE is for all MCLA students.

"You don't have to be a first-year student. You can also be a non-traditional student or an adult learner to benefit. The services are open to everybody," Brown said.

This fall, Kate Heekin, who previously worked in the Office of Admission, joined CSSE as its assistant director.

"Even the name of this Center points out to the campus - or anyone visiting - that student success is a priority here," said Heekin.

MCLA students play a critical role in helping their peers to succeed through CSSE's tutor exchange network, which is focused on providing writing support and foundational science support in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) areas.

It is this type of collaborative effort that adds to the feeling on campus that the MCLA community is a family.

"We talk about community and I think this is a really good example of what community means. It's bringing together people and there's probably no one who isn't in the circle of being supportive of students. We see that day in and day out in (MCLA President) Mary Grant. She is individually and collectively the biggest champion of being supportive of students on our campus. I think that she sets the tone," Foss explained.

"Our measure of success is student success," Foss continued. "It's our job to meet a student where they are and provide what we can, through programs and services, to help them advance themselves."

For more information, e-mail the CSSE at