Spotlight on Innovation: Making the Library Central to Adult Learner Support at The College of New Rochelle

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 24 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.


by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

Faculty at the The College of New Rochelle already know that mentoring and research-rich courses are key for the success of the adult learners in their School of New Resources. Yet when Ana Fontoura, The College of New Rochelle’s Dean of Libraries, was tapped to help improve student success through innovative, collaborative learning strategies, she immediately noticed that the existing research only mentioned academic libraries in a supporting role, if at all. At many institutions, this may present a missed opportunity. After all, the academic library is uniquely positioned to bring together information and research services and provide spaces for learning, mentoring, and collaboration.

That moving of the library from the support role to the center of a student success initiative with a focus on undergraduate research is what I find exciting about how The College of New Rochelle plans to use their First in the World grant funds. Fontoura sees the opportunity for the library to give adult learners, especially, an extra push to reach their goals, and she is proposing larger roles for the library and its staff in a new model that New Rochelle is calling "MURAL."

MURAL: Mentoring, Undergraduate Research, and Augmented Libraries

At The College of New Rochelle, the $3.9 million FITW grant will fund MURAL (Mentoring, Undergraduate Research, and Augmented Libraries), which is focused on moving full-time adult learners in the College’s School of New Resources through college in four years or less with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Liberal Arts. The initiative will create a network of support through an enhanced research-rich core course each semester, enhanced mentoring, and the creation of a library learning commons.

Included in this multifaceted approach are these key elements:

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