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UNC’S Housing Program Recognized as Winner of 2021 Assessment and Impact Awards

smiling student in residence hall

July 19, 2021

The University of Northern Colorado was recently named a winner of the 2021 Assessment and Impact Award for Housing and Residence Life. The award, given by Skyfactor Benchworks, a Macmillan Learning company, recognized the university for its efforts to improve community environment satisfaction, particularly for first-year residents in their transition to college, and for using data-driven programs to support on-campus living.  

According to Skyfactor, residence life plays an important role in building community, ensuring students’ success in college and improving graduation rates. Through their own research, Skyfactor found that students who reported that their housing experience helped them make connections with other students in their courses were more likely to report that their housing experience contributed to their overall learning. 

As a Students First university, UNC focuses on all aspects of student success. For the Department of Housing and Residential Education, success is achieved through developing residents' interpersonal skills, supporting both academic and nonacademic adjustments, fostering a sense of community and supporting academic success. To ensure it’s on track with those goals, the department regularly assesses its efforts and uses that information to drive continuous improvement.  

“We use data to identify challenges student’s face so we can create intentional programming and match staff training to our student's needs,” said Michael Klitzke, assistant director for Curriculum and Assessment for Housing and Residential Education. 

Over the past several years, UNC’s Department of Housing and Residential Education has been particularly focused on providing more support for first-year students in their transition to college, implementing a series of intentional, one-on-one conversations with residents to better understand their challenges and needs, and establishing community engagement centers to provide a place where residents can connect. Other changes the university implemented include updating the traditional programming model to allow student staff more time to build meaningful relationships with their residents and training improvements that prepare student staff to have more effective conversations. 

“Residence life has never been both more challenging and more important than during the past year, as programs faced profound issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steven Ray, vice president of Enterprise Solutions for Macmillan Learning. “But, housing programs carried on, made changes, adjusted, and continued their work to improve the student experience. The institutions recognized this year used data-driven insights to make meaningful improvements to the residential experience, and we’re proud to recognize their work.”  

The Assessment and Impact Award for Residence Life was established in 2019 to recognize colleges that demonstrate intentionality in using insights from data to improve their residence life programs. UNC was one of seven colleges across the U.S. selected as a winner this spring by Macmillan Learning’s Analytics and Research Team, which analyzed multiple years of data from the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Resident Assessment to identify programs with both consistently high scores and significant improvements in survey scores. The team then interviewed staff from the campuses to learn about the efforts and initiatives in place at each program. An external review team of experts in the profession then blind reviewed and scored each finalist on a rubric.  

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