Earlier this month, Carrie Ziglar received the Regents’ Momentum Award for excellence in advising and student success. This award was given by the University System of Georgia and represents the best values and standards for schools under the USG banner.
Ziglar is the Executive Director for Student Success at the University of West Georgia. She has been working in higher education for over thirty years. She previously worked at Virginia Tech and Bluefield College. While at Bluefield, she started and developed a student success center focused on testing, tutoring and helping students find a career outlet. She also became the Dean of Students during her tenure.
She arrived at UWG in 2014 as a coordinator of Peer Learning before eventually stepping into the role of Executive Director for Student Success.
“On a day-to-day basis, I triage and manage a bunch of things. We have a very large staff with offices all over campus and a lot of moving parts,” said Ziglar. Office locations include the STEM Center at Boyd, the TLC writing center, the school of nursing, Richards College of Business, the college of education, and the main academic advising office in the UCC.
“I spend time during the day keeping track of what is going on at each location. Our mission/goal in student success is to help all students become better at what they are doing right now. Whether that involves tutoring, meeting an advisor, talking to a peer coach, having a paper reviewed in the writing center, especially in the climate we are in right now, we have to help each other,” Ziglar said. The academic advisors provide outreach and support for every student on this campus.
“Another goal is to increase the percentage of students that use academic support services. These services are a set of ‘safety nets’ for students. Every student 0-120 credit hours has an advisor. There is tutoring for every core course, and our peer academic coaches are trained and have the ability to work with freshmen all the way up to graduate students.”
Students, advisors and staff members who work in academic support services go through training with numerous levels of certification. This peer-to-peer operation seems to work better for students who need help. Ziglar believes that students will relate better to other students during a tutoring or supplemental instruction session.
“We have a great infrastructure of technology and that helps with finding a strong support system for students,” said Ziglar.
The Regents’ Momentum Award was given to Ziglar and her staff for their hard work during the COVID-19 period of 2020 and 2021. During that time, face-to-face interaction with students and academic support staff were not occurring. In a span of two weeks, everything involving student support for academic success went virtual with all supplemental sessions online. SI leaders who were working from home had the technology and infrastructure provided to them at all times. Staff were required to attend virtual training on how to create online sessions and how to provide resources to students. Academic coaching and tutoring also went virtual. Ziglar is very appreciative of her staff.
“The board of regents award is a group award, a team reward,” said Ziglar. “I have the privilege of working with some amazing individuals who within two weeks turned everything that we did into a virtual format.
“With student success being under one umbrella and us being able to collaborate with open discussion and identify students at risk earlier,” continued Ziglar. “We have a phenomenal opportunity to help students invest in themselves, understand their value and the educational process.”