Spotlight - Hostos Community College

Dr. Johana L. Rivera, Associate Dean for Student Development and Enrollment Management Interim Director of Admissions, Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College, located in the Bronx in New York City, is a dynamic campus with a thorough, multi-phase Appreciative Advising implementation plan. We spoke with Dr. Johana Rivera, the Dean of Student Development and Enrollment Management, who was happy to share the exciting initiatives taking place on her campus.

In 2015, Dr. Rivera wrote a proposal for an Integrated Advisement Model for the nine advising areas on campus. Seeking a common model that would serve each entity, Dr. Rivera listened to what each area needed to serve students successfully. While researching programs and models, she encountered the Appreciative Advising framework via the Provost at Hostos and soon after discussed dreams of interdepartmental integration with members of the Appreciative Advising team. During a two-day campus visit during Spring 2016, the team met with Hostos’ advising and student services departments: Academic Advisement, Cross Divisional Advisement Committee, College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment Program (COPE), College Discovery, Student Life, Student Leadership/Student Government, Career Services, Continuing Education and Workforce Development/CLIP/CUNYStart, the Student Success Coaching Unit (SSCU), ASAP, and Transfer Student Services. Through these meetings, the team introduced the Appreciative Advising framework to over 120 advisors, coaches, and counselors and they subsequently incorporated the model into their strategic plan and allocated resources to improve students’ advising experiences. As a part of the strategic plan, Hostos’ top three priorities are academic advisement, remedial/developmental services to students, and partnerships with their community in the Bronx to support student success. Through the integration of the student developmental services, a common theme has emerged, that is, to incorporate Appreciative Advising as the adopted model for engaging students and helping them achieve success.

A group of Hostos Community College administrators and staff participated in the Appreciative Advising online six-week course, attended the 2016 Appreciative Advising Institute at Florida Atlantic University, and were encouraged to pursue certification in Appreciative Advising. Those who became certified also became trainers who developed an 18-month training calendar to ensure that all staff, faculty, administrators, and advisors at Hostos are trained in the model as a part of the multi-phase implementation plan. Training sessions are also provided for new-hires and for those seeking refresher opportunities. The Hostos Dream Team, composed of fourteen trainers, has had the opportunity to continuously develop their presentations and exercises to optimize training interactions with staff, faculty, administrators, and advisors throughout the 2016-17 academic year. Training sessions involve movement, creation of a vision board, formal and informal dream sessions, brainstorming for making the instructional environment a welcoming place, and networking with one another to embrace the positive, student success oriented approach of each student service area.