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Japanese educators examine WMU's student success

April 6, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A group of Japanese professors and administrators was on campus March 19 and 20 to examine Western Michigan University's undergraduate retention and mentoring initiatives.

The five-member delegation from Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama, Japan, was in the United States on a fact-finding mission that also included a stop at the California University of Pennsylvania. WMU was on the group's itinerary because of its long-established undergraduate mentoring programs now administered through the federally funded TRIO Student Success Program, which hosted the Japanese educators' visit.

The TRIO Program, launched in 1965 nationwide and 1984 at WMU, is part of the University's Center for Academic Support Programs. This center also houses University Curriculum as well as the Academic Skills Center, Alpha Program, Intellectual Skills Development Program and Writing Center.

"We help first-generation, income-eligible college students and college students with disabilities transition to college and progress through graduation," says Charlotte L. Giscombe, program services coordinator for TRIO.

"Mentoring has always been a big part of doing that. Our colleagues from Japan were especially interested in learning about the different components of mentoring programs, what makes mentoring programs successful and how different departments interact with each other to help students reach successful outcomes."

While on campus, the delegation met with TRIO students, sat in on two TRIO classes, and were briefed on a variety of ongoing mentoring programs that acclimate students to the demands of college life and/or help them locate careers that suit their abilities and personalities.

In addition to briefings by Center for Academic Support Programs staff members, the Japanese educators also had a chance to meet with representatives of the Alumni Mentor Program, Career and Student Employment Services, the First-Year Experience Program, and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program.

The Kanto Gakuin University delegation was composed of Dr. Tohru Kanada, professor of engineering and director of academic affairs; Dr. Seiji Tsuji, professor of business administration and director of the Career Support Center; Dr. Tesuya Fukuda, associate professor of business administration and a member of the Mentoring Committee; and Naoki Matsumoto, law school assistant chief of academic affairs. Nao Murakami, a University of Illinois student, served as the group's translator.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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