The University of Akron is hiring part-time staffers in a new job called academic encourager.
They will make $8 an hour to oversee students who are “emergent,” which to UA means they might need a little extra hand-holding to do university work.
UA vice president Jim Tressel developed the job in his role as head of student success. He said encouragers will help to buttress the efforts of the university’s 20-or-so academic advisers.
“This is a pilot study,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. Our goal is to see what it looks like this semester.”
Tressel said he started similar programs when he coached football at Ohio State and Youngstown State. He said he thinks he can duplicate their success with the 4,000 UA students who have been classified as emergent.
These students scored 18 to 21 on the ACT and posted high school grade-point averages of 2.5 to 3.0, which UA says puts them at greater risk of dropping out.
The program is part of a larger UA effort to raise its graduation rate — one of the lowest in the state — of 40 percent for first-time, full-time students.
Ohio is tying more of its subsidies to graduation data rather than to enrollment. The more students who graduate, the greater the state subsidy a tax-supported school, like UA, will receive.
As for the encouragers, they must have a bachelor’s degree and, ideally, a master’s degree, plus at least 10 years in education, possibly, for example, as a high school teacher.
Applicants must have “interest in working with college-level students and the ability to establish rapport with students and motivate student learning,” according to the job description on UA’s website.
“We’re looking for people who want to make a difference,” Tressel said.
He said his office has reached out to applicants on the UA website, to retired teachers and to the UA Retirees Association to hire 20 encouragers who each will advise 20 students.
Stacey Moore, UA associate vice president of student success, said her office will select those students who might benefit the most from meeting with an academic encourager — possibly students of color or who are the first in their families to go to college. UA’s full-time academic advisers also will provide input.
Tressel said the pay — $8 an hour for 25 hours a week — is comparable to that paid to UA’s part-time faculty for a three-hour class.
If the program proves successful, UA might hire more academic encouragers, Tressel said. He envisions hiring 50 academic encouragers this spring and eventually to have “hundreds of them” on campus.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3729.