by Stephanie Atti and Al DeCiccio, with contributions from Eric Miller, Ryan Miller, Amy Yoder, Sharon Cudney, David Stewart, Denise Harris, Christine Walawander, Larry Robinson, Patti Abbott, Theresa Vallone, Michelle Bork


During the 2017-2018 academic year, D’Youville conducted a nine-month Student Success EcoSystem Study, which focused on four main areas:

  • Academic Advisement and Planning;
  • Transfer Services;
  • Work and Career Development; and a
  • (future) Learning Commons.

Each team included faculty and staff who reviewed current policies, applicable college-level data, conducted numerous surveys and focus groups, and researched regional and national best practices.  As a direct result of the team’s recommendations, the DYC Student Success Center opened in August 2018.  The Center is located on the 1st floor of the Bauer Family Academic Center (BFAC), and provides essential services, such as:

  • Academic Advisement and Planning;
  • Transfer Services;
  • Career and Professional Engagement; and
  • Student Support and Advocacy.

Guiding Core Values and Principles

D’Youville’s student success initiative is driven by three core values:

  • Student Advocacy;
  • Career Pathways; and
  • Financial Wellness and Literacy.

These guiding principles will help shape the landscape for the next generation of students seeking to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees at D’Youville.  Through a coordinated care approach, students are provided the services needed to be successful and to persist in their degree programs, to be career-ready upon graduation, and to accumulate as little student loan debt as possible.

Student Success Team

Mission: To support and encourage campus connections and help empower students to take their first steps into the future.

As of fall 2018, D’Youville students are assigned an individualized Student Success Team, which includes:

  • A primary academic or transfer advisor;
  • A faculty mentor (from the program/career track);
  • A career coach; and
  • A financial aid counselor.

D’Youville students who started prior to fall 2018 will work with their faculty advisors through graduation.  Students who change their major during their enrollment will be assigned a primary advisor within the Student Success Center.

This collaborative and innovative Student Success Team works to improve student outcomes through engaging and intentional practices, positioning D’Youville students on a pathway to success from acceptance to graduation.  “Notes” on each student’s Self-Service record allows for team members to track progress through both the student’s academic program and any referrals made to other DYC support services.  Any student identified as “at risk” for not attaining the student’s desired path, or not targeted for the original graduation date, prompts the Student Success Team members to meet–as a group and then with the student–to discuss the best course of action

Team members work closely with one another and have an area of expertise:

Professional Academic Transfer Advisors work full-time in the Student Success Center and assist students with everything from course advisement and scheduling to helping them navigate the D’Youville experience.  Advisors also answer questions about college and department policies and procedures. These team members utilize innovative strategies for supporting the students’ timely degree completion, while referring them to other support services within the network that can help the students to overcome more specific barriers to success.

Faculty Mentors are professors within the student’s major or area of interest.  The faculty mentoring idea allows students to connect with faculty, who bring the students inside their disciplinary circles (as nurses, pharmacists, chemists, dieticians, historians, etc.); the faculty mentors spend quality time speaking with students about career plans, working on activities other than coursework (student clubs and organizations, faculty-led research in the field of interest, creative activities, and inter-professional opportunities), discussing course topics, ideas, or concepts, and reviewing academic performance.

Career Coaches provide specialized support in career and professional development.  The Career Coaches assist students with career and major exploration, professional preparation, and employment information.  They offer a variety of resources, tools, and activities to ensure that students are career-ready upon graduation. Career Coaching is a significant aspect of the coordinated care network model.

Financial Aid Counselors are trained in government and private resources for funding a student’s college education. They work closely with parents and students to outline a plan to pay for school, including personal finances, student loans, government grants, and private scholarships.

The Idea of a D’Youville Faculty-Student Mentor Program

Mission: to foster relationships between students and faculty, who model disciplinary behavior.

Goal: To position the idea of intentional and transformational mentoring alongside the three priorities in D’Youville’s Strategic Plan—the institutions belief for its future:

  • Enriching Educational Excellence;
  • Enhancing the Student Experience; and
  • Expanding Opportunity and Community Impact.


On January 10, 2019 the School of Arts, Sciences, and Education and the Student Success Center sponsored a mini-summit, facilitated by Larry Robinson of Partners and Robinson.  The event was attended by more than 50 faculty and staff and focused on the idea of transformational mentoring.  The goal of the day was to begin to develop a robust faculty/student mentoring program to complement what the primary, transfer, and career advisors are undertaking in the Student Success Center.

The positive and enlightening day was designed to help participants understand “what makes a good mentor.”  Some of the activities included participant storytelling about everyone’s mentor experience, either from the perspective of the mentor or the mentee.  Once the day concluded, a core team of eight people (equal parts faculty/staff) met to transcribe the notes and discussion.

Based on a review of the notes, the team members uncovered these major themes of mentorship:

Desire               Encourage                    Affirm                           Empathize

Wisdom            Opportunity                  Concern                        Engage

Time                 Create                          Communicate               Support

Challenge         Empower                      Believe                         Demonstrate

With Larry Robinson’s help, the core team concluded that these themes could be funneled into three buckets from which we could extract possibilities for transformational mentoring at D’Youville:

  • Beliefs and behaviors;
  • Opportunities for mentoring; and
  • Mentoring moments.

Using these three guideposts, the team proposed the following:

Faculty Mentor Guidelines and Responsibilities

D’Youville is committed to supporting first-year and transfer students from their commitment to the college through graduation (and beyond).  The role of the faculty mentor is not to be an academic advisor or tutor; it is to provide personal and individual guidance and support on academic, professional, and social issues, helping students to achieve, identify, and/or clarify their disciplinary career goals.

Proposed Guidelines and Responsibilities for Faculty

To activate faculty mentoring in a more robust way, the following may serve as a guide:

Once a faculty member learns who the mentee is, she or he should reach out to the mentee within a week.  The faculty mentor should initiate and schedule the first in-person meeting, but should encourage the mentee to take the lead going forward. There can be individual or group meetings.

Faculty mentors should meet with mentees at least one time per semester, but are encouraged to meet more often as the students progress through their academic programs.

Of course, faculty mentors should support and empower students to find their own solutions and to advocate for themselves.

Faculty mentors allow students to work through their own ideas but offer support, share personal experiences and make observations. They ask students if they can offer them advice

Faculty mentors network, as they help mentees connect with diverse professional and academic contacts (e.g., other faculty, alumni, grad students, peers).

Here are some ways to approach the faculty mentoring task:

  • Be prepared to direct the conversation for the first meeting;
  • Listen actively and ask questions;
  • Keep conversations confidential (except where the student’s well-being may be in jeopardy);
  • After the first meeting, allow your mentee to take the lead in the conversation and relationship;
  • Establish a plan for how often and how long to meet;
  • Be clear about time limitations;
  • Establish short- and long-term goals and expectations;
  • Inform the student of the best way to communicate (email, phone, text);
  • Be generous with both praise and constructive criticism;
  • Provide opportunities for mentees to attend conferences, meetings, workshops, etc.; and
  • Be aware of when to refer the mentee to another campus or community resource (e.g., Personal Counseling, Learning Center, Crisis Services, etc.).

Just in Case: Title IX Mandatory Reporting

This information is meant to serve as a guideline when working with anyone who may speak about sexual misconduct. A faculty mentor must report to the Title IX Coordinator should she or he become aware of any sexual misconduct.

The Title IX Coordinator is:
Debbie Owens
College Center, Room 111

Reporting to the Title IX Coordinator does not mean the student needs to file a formal complaint; that is the student’s choice.  An investigation takes place only if the student files a formal complaint, or if independent information comes forward regarding the same or additional misconduct.  Even if a student does not wish to file a formal complaint, there are still some things the Title IX Coordinator can do on the student’s behalf (e.g., change a class for them, or move them).

When it is not required to report to the Title IX Coordinator?

If a faculty mentor does not wish to be put in the position of having to report, she or he needs to stop a student from relating an incident of sexual misconduct.  The easiest way to do this is to make sure students know in advance of the requirement to report.

There are four places on campus a student can go to talk about an incident of sexual misconduct without it being reported to the Title IX Coordinator:

  • Personal Counseling Center;
  • Campus Ministry;
  • Health Center; and
  • Crisis Service Advocate.

These four areas are considered confidential resources and the staff have been trained to assist students, even if they do not wish to report.  There are many actions that can still be taken to help a student, even if the student chooses not to report/go through the formal process.

The full Title IX Policy is available on the website.  The website provides all members of the DYC community with important information about sexual misconduct and the polices regarding it:

Please see Appendix I for more information regarding Title IX and sexual assault.

Appendix 1:




Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and/or Sexual Assault


D’Youville Crisis Services Advocate 716.829.8194 / 716.381.0338 (on-campus)

Personal Counseling 716.829.7819                                           Health Center 716.829.8777

Crisis Services Hotline 716.834.3131 (off-campus)             Campus Ministry 716.829.7672

If a student comes to you with a report of any sexual misconduct. you must state the following:

You have the right to make a report to campus safety, local law enforcement, and/or state police or choose not to report; to report the incident to D’Youville College authorities; to be protected by the college for retaliation for reporting the incident; and to receive assistance and resources from the college.

If you are a Title IX Mandated Reporter: (Faculty advisors [academic/clubs/organization], Faculty mentors, all staff) You must inform the student that you must report the information to the Title IX Coordinator.

Title IX Coordinator:

Debbie Owens, 716.829.8198 (College Center, Room 111)



Debbie Owens, , 716.829.8198

You may also contact Human Resources, 716.829.7810 regarding non – student concerns/questions.

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