Academic Advocates Serve Students and the USF Community

Office of Academic Advocacy (OAA)

August 2022

“You helped me identify which obstacles I needed to overcome to clear my holds, receive reimbursement, and be reinstated for bright futures. I am grateful for your willingness and eagerness to get me back on track,” said N.B, a first-year student working with an advocate in the Office of Academic Advocacy.

The Office of Academic Advocacy’s (OAA) work affects the positive outcomes we see in students’ progression such as the 2020 First-Time-in-College (FTIC) cohort and the continuous increase in graduation rates with the 2017 FTIC cohort graduation rate at 65% an increase from 63% from the 2016 FTIC cohort (Tampa Campus Preeminence Metrics).

The Office of Academic Advocacy (OAA) assists students in eliminating barriers they may encounter on the way to graduation. This work is in direct support of Performance-Based Funding Goals set for USF in the Florida BOG 2022 Accountability Report.

Expanding their outreach was a priority during the 2021 – 2022 academic year. The three teams; First-year, Transfer, and Progression have expanded their outreach throughout campus. They are meeting with faculty, staff, and advisors in the colleges. They offer tips and tricks for working with students at pivotable times of the year, how to identify when a student should be referred for advocacy services and guidance on creating college intervention groups.

Before students arrive in Fall 2022, advocates will participate in training workshops for Housing and Residential Education staff and student staff on signs that students may be struggling academically and how to guide the students for assistance.

Penny S.

Penny S., Marketing and Integrative Public Relations and Advertising major said,  “Sarah Wray, was fantastic and helped me with my schedule and helped me set up an appointment with Financial Aid which is difficult...” Listen here.

OAA has been an integral part of the development and implementation of internal data tools such as the SMART Dashboards to help identify students who may require proactive outreach and support to avoid experiencing greater academic challenges in the future. These operational tools support university efforts in applying data analytics to student success initiatives.

The Tampa campus team continues to work with a One USF focus. All campus Academic Advocates meet monthly to connect, review processes, discuss challenges, and align how campuses work with students. This alignment takes into consideration the culture of each campus. The Transfer team along with St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campus on-boarded new Advocates this past year. One USF Advocacy collaborated on training resources and opportunities to learn from one another.

USF has been recognized for the impressive outcomes of increasing academic progression rates for students. Universities from across the nation have reached out to OAA to learn about the advocacy work and the ‘culture of care’ USF provides students.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently highlighted the work USF and OAA have done in the article The Student Success Challenge.