In a resounding acknowledgement of its commitment to enhancing student success, Nicholls State University was recently honored with the prestigious Rising Star Award at EdSights’ PERSIST 2023 Awards. The ceremony, held during the culmination of the PERSIST Summit in the bustling city of New York, celebrated educational institutions that showcased exemplary utilization of EdSights’ innovative software, as per this article from the university.
The Rising Star Award, a testament to the university’s quick adaptation and dedication, was bestowed upon Nicholls for their profound understanding of EdSights’ software. This recognition is particularly noteworthy as it is reserved for newer partners who, despite being associated with EdSights for less than a year, exhibit promising workflow approaches, a deep comprehension of the product, outstanding outcomes, and an unwavering commitment to student success.
Renee Hicks, Nicholls’ Assistant Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, Access, and Success, expressed the university’s gratitude for the acknowledgment, emphasizing the institution’s relentless focus on student support and retention. Hicks stated, “Nicholls has been focused on improving student success and retention. EdSights provided the perfect software to our toolkit to improve communication and relationships with students. Tillou helps students to engage with campus resources to ensure their success.”
The spotlight of Nicholls’ success story is the introduction of Tillou, an AI-driven SMS chatbot unveiled in January 2023. EdSights collaborated with Nicholls to create Tillou, tailoring it to address the specific needs identified through extensive research on student success and retention. Given Nicholls’ pre-existing commitment to fostering a culture centered on student support and retention, the integration of Tillou and EdSights seamlessly complemented the university’s existing initiatives.
Tillou, a behaviorally intelligent chatbot, serves as a proactive engagement tool, checking in with students at crucial intervals throughout the semester. Its primary objective is to support and engage students, offering assistance and guidance whenever necessary. Available 24/7 via text or through the Nicholls website, Tillou acts as a reliable resource for students, answering questions and providing valuable information about the university.
Renee Hicks further highlighted the strategic use of Tillou to enhance communication with students, enabling Nicholls’ faculty, staff, and administration to better understand and serve their student population. The intentional deployment of Tillou for both current undergraduate and prospective students has streamlined support services, enhancing the university’s persistence and retention efforts. Beyond the acknowledgment of individual success, the implementation of tools like Tillou aligns with broader institutional goals. The integration of technology-driven solutions not only facilitates communication but also strengthens the university’s overall persistence and retention strategies. The success of such initiatives is evident in the creation of a vibrant virtual community, fostering an avenue for student feedback and interaction.
In the broader context of educational institutions, the role of Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning (IREP) becomes paramount. At Nicholls, this office plays a crucial role in supporting the university’s mission by providing reliable, actionable data and guidance to foster a culture of continuous improvement. The three major divisions within IREP – Institutional Research, Institutional Effectiveness, and Planning – work collaboratively to ensure the university’s holistic development.
Institutional Research conducts unbiased research, analysis, and reporting, employing a comprehensive understanding of complex university business processes. This information is pivotal in promoting data-informed decision-making for both internal and external entities. Simultaneously, Institutional Effectiveness is instrumental in facilitating the systematic improvement of educational programs, teaching methodologies, research initiatives, service, and administrative processes. Planning, as the third division, lends support to integrated planning at various levels of the university hierarchy. This approach ensures that data is strategically employed in organizational decision-making, contributing to the overall success and advancement of the institution.
In conclusion, Nicholls State University‘s recognition with EdSights’ Rising Star Award is not just a celebration of a singular achievement; it reflects the university’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of student experiences. The integration of innovative tools like Tillou, in conjunction with the comprehensive efforts of IREP, underscores the institution’s dedication to providing a supportive, engaging, and technologically advanced educational environment.
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