Taking on the task of reaching out to students in the South Florida community who are not properly prepared for college is an exciting new challenge for Vice President Jaffus Hardrick, FIU’s first vice provost for Access and Success. Hardrick was appointed to the role by Provost Douglas Wartzok earlier this month.
Hardrick and his newly formed team will also provide assistance and resources to help those students succeed and graduate once they arrive at FIU.
He will oversee a number of different pre-collegiate programs aimed to help students prepare for their college experience, including the Golden Scholars program which is designed to assist eligible first-time college students with a seamless transition into FIU.
Hardrick, who has been the university’s vice president of Human Resources since 2008, will continue to serve in that capacity in addition to his new responsibilities.
FIU News caught up with Hardrick to talk about his new role:
What are some of your new responsibilities as the first Vice Provost for Access and Success?
First, I have to thank President Rosenberg and Provost Wartzok for their commitment to helping talented students in South Florida obtain a quality education, regardless of their socio-economic background. Both firmly believe that FIU is here to make a difference and have a positive impact on our community.
The objective of the role is to refine and focus recruitment and retention efforts to attract first-generation college students and underrepresented groups, especially as it relates to low-income students, particularly Hispanic and Black males.
We recognize that preparation for success at an institution of our size, scope, and renown begins long before the freshman year of college. In this role, we will fortify the pre-collegiate programs for students’ access to higher education and academic success, with intentionality.
In this role, it is my responsibility to help design effective programs that not only attract them to FIU, but retain, develop and graduate those particular students in a timely manner.
How do you plan on reaching out to these students before they make their decisions on where to go for college?
Using an aggressive outreach model, we will go out and build stronger relations and alliances with various schools and administrators, community leaders, religious organizations and others to help us truly begin to recruit these particular students. Additionally, we will build effective support systems for these students.
We will also work with parents and host a variety of pre-college seminars educating the whole family about the college process and how it all works from start to finish. That’s important. When the families understand the process, everyone will understand that they have a role to play.
It is my philosophy that success is built on relationships. One of my objectives is to help everyone understand – our faculty, staff, and the external community – that we all have a responsibility to help students succeed.
How will other areas in the university be involved in this process?
Internally, we will work with the various schools, colleges and administrative and academic units around the university where we have several outreach initiatives. We will be partnering with admissions, financial aid, student group leaders… you name it. We want to start building synergy through collaborating and centralizing some of these efforts.
We’ll be looking into implementing highly effective mentoring programs, making sure that these students’ success is being tracked and they’re simultaneously being encouraged to get and utilize available tutoring and support resources to help them be successful.
How important is it to connect with these students on a personal level?
It is critical. Coming into an institution of 54,000 students can be overwhelming for someone who may not have the same level of confidence other students express. That can be intimidating. So it’s important for students to get engaged and connected as quickly as possible. That’s where mentoring and other student support programs will be vital. We want to teach them how to have strong interpersonal skills and the confidence to ask the critical questions that are necessary for their academic success.
We want to teach students how to immediately recognize problems and learn to seek solutions early. That’s what we’re going to be working diligently to help these students do. My perspective is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We want to help these students learn how to study, how to manage their time and have good balance so that their college experience is rewarding in many ways.
What attracted you to the position?
I’ve always been passionate about students. Even at my previous institution, I worked with students, went out recruiting on behalf of the university, served as a mentor and an advisor for various organizations.
More importantly, I was the prototype of these students just a few years ago. I know what it means to have someone there to push you, to encourage you, to motivate you and help bring out the best in you. And that’s what we want to do here. We all have a responsibility to help these students reach for the stars and to be able to dream. FIU is committed to making them realize that greatness is within them and I’ve been given the awesome responsibility and privilege to bring it out. For me in this role, it’s going to be about graduating and developing our future leaders.