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R egistration started at Morgan State University this week and students are returning to good news on campus for the fall 2017 – summer 2018 academic year.

Among the many wins for Baltimore’s public urban research university in the first six months of 2017 are a $750,000 diversity in technology grant from Intel and a Hobsons Education Advances Award for Student Success.

Hobsons, an educational consultant based in Virginia, enable educators to improve college and career planning, admissions and enrollment management, student success and advising.

The annual Hobsons award highlights institutions who make a difference in the lives of students in a real and measurable way.

The Education Advances Awards program celebrates the accomplishments of those institutions that are leading the way in student success.

In s Hobson’s promotional video Morgan’s Dr. Tiffany Beth Mfume, director, Office of Student Success and Retention talks about best practices for retention.

More than 60 percent of Morgan students are first generation college students and over 90 percent are supported by financial aid. The office has had notable success in helping students with personal development and finding a clear degree path. Dr. Mfume’s leadership has helped to promote a nine point increase in retention rates, from 67% in 2010 to 76% in 2016.

“Technology helps Morgan State keep students on track in a number of ways. Starfish is used as an early alert system,” she said.

Starfish, a Hobsons educational software product, is used by 350 higher ed institutions, including college systems in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia, four-year private institutes such as Johns Hopkins University, and four-year public universities such as Penn State University, and the University of New Mexico, to support student success and ensure students stay on track to reach their goals.

“I always say that technology doesn’t replace human engagement, it fosters human engagement. It really helps us keep on the same page in a way that we’ve never had before,” Dr. Mfume said.

The Morgan State University Starfish program has addressed many challenges, said Dr. Mfume, author of the nationally recognized book, What Works at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Nine Strategies for Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates.

“Student success for us is comprehensive,” added Kara Turner, vice president of enrollment and student success. “It involves everything from academic support, it involves financial support. That is a significant piece. So we look at students from all angles.. personal adjustment issues, their financial and academic preparedness. We kind of look at the 360 of all our students.

The Hobsons citation reads:

Morgan State University implemented the Starfish platform to support the Office of Student Success and Retention and the university’s retention program and to help increase student retention rates and persistence to graduation through early intervention and systematic tracking of undergraduate students. Starfish has allowed the university to provide higher-quality advising, introduce a more transparent and efficient method of early risk targeting and intervention, and improve student accountability.

Starfish 7 analyzes institutional data, bench marking tools, validated predictors of risk, student activity, and other performance indicators to identify the variables that may jeopardize a student’s ability to progress towards completion, then helps advisors determine which interventions will be most likely to provide relief.

Counselors can create effective plans to keep every student on the path to success, accounting for factors such as demographics, program choices, and velocity to completion.

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