East 14th Street: A Hub For Student Success

Zora DeSeignora ’23 Communication Studies and Spanish
Five student success department leaders standing together outdoors in front of their buildings and a sign that says student success.
Leaders of departments within the Office of Student Success: from left, Janet Long, Tim Cairy, Jennifer Horowitz, Amy Yarlett and Rebecca Ross.

Widener is widely recognized for its focus on supporting students and giving them access to the resources they need to be successful personally and academically. The Office of Student Success is central to that effort, and offices that make up the division are reorganizing their physical spaces to be closer together, for student convenience, and more easily accessed and comfortably set up, for a positive student experience. 

Located along East 14th Street, in what Student Success staff have affectionately nicknamed, “Student Success Row,” the offices are found in historic home structures that represent a hub of resources. Students can receive advising help, tutoring resources, counseling services, learn interview skills, and much more.

The five departments in the Office of Student Success include:

Students who access any of these offices for services will benefit from physical and resource enhancements made possible by a $360,000 grant from Crystal Trust, an organization that supports higher education, social and family services, historical preservation, and more.

“These improvements are supporting our efforts to create a framework that will empower our students to thrive in all settings: indoors and outdoors, on-campus, off-campus, in person, or virtually, as circumstances may require,” Joe Matassino, director of Sponsored Research and Foundation Relations, wrote in Widener’s successful application for the funding. 

Physical changes have included the relocation of Counseling and Psychological Services office to the East 14th Street hub, a more central location than its former home on the edge of campus. Interior upgrades to three structures housing the five departments have already begun, and large-scale exterior work – including new landscaping, outdoor study spaces, and a covered portico, are planned over the next year. Enhancements to make spaces more easily accessible for individuals with physical disabilities are also included.

The goal of these upgrades is to give students a greater sense of community, according to Janet Long, executive director of Widener’s Career Design & Development Office, who coordinated the grant proposal process and early implementation.

“As a whole, the division wanted to create welcoming spaces for students to connect and collaborate with their advisers and counselors -- and with each other,” she said.

And connections include all students – whether they study remotely, in person, require accessibility or other support services, or have nontraditional schedules. The grant funding will benefit them all with things like:

Laptop loans – A Student Success Services effort that gets laptop computers into the hands of students who are financially unable to purchase one.

Resume review – A Career Design & Development effort involving JobScan, a new algorithm-based resume review platform will allow students to compare their resumes to specific jobs before submitting employment applications. Staff reflect the fun of this valuable tool in the nickname, “Beat the Bot.” 

Online mental health assistance – A new Counseling and Psychological Services 24/7 virtual personalized resource, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) Connect, available to anyone with a Widener email address.

Assistive technology – Student Accessibility Services offering enhanced technology, such as talking calculators, electronic readers and scanners, a personal listening system, closed circuit TV for enlargements, ergonomic mice, and a high-volume paper cutter so all students have equal access to all aspects of campus life. 

Accessible advising – Undergraduate advising, and retention staff are creating friendly advising workstations with laptops where students can plan and schedule their courses.

“Our location together on 14th Street creates a synergy for students who will be working with more than one office to create a plan for success. We are grateful to Crystal Trust for making a commitment to Widener students through upgrades to the interiors and exteriors of our buildings and supporting increased technology and software platforms to enhance their academic, personal and professional development,” said Gerry Bloemker, Associate Provost for Student Success.

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