Williston State College program for first-term advising wins regional higher education award

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April 10, 2019

Salt Lake City—An innovative first-term advising program at Williston State College in North Dakota was honored by the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance) at its annual meeting last Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Kaylyn Bondy, vice president for student affairs at WSC, accepted the Bernice Joseph Award, given annually by the Alliance for the best academic-leadership resource submitted this past year to its online resource known as the Academic Leaders Toolkit. This peer-reviewed repository is hosted by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the Colorado-based regional higher education agency where the Alliance (whose members are chief academic leaders at Western U.S. two-year-colleges) is based.

“I am very encouraged to see this program honored with the Bernice Joseph Award,” says Alliance chair Clifton Sanders, provost for academic affairs at Salt Lake Community College. “It showcases the value our Alliance provides by turning a spotlight on innovations that improve community and technical colleges’ ability to serve students and communities.”

The program came about in early 2017 as WSC sought to improve new student engagement and retention. It launched a program that encouraged faculty and staff to come forward as advisors, trained them, and assigned them to students with the goal of better orienting students to WSC through materials and intentional touchpoints throughout a student’s first term.

In two years, the program has helped WSC lessen the timespan between matriculation and enrollment, and has led to measurable improvements in student retention rates.

In receiving this award, WSC’s program gains broad recognition among the two-year-college chief academic officers who represents Alliance member institutions located in the WICHE region encompassing 16 state and territorial members. The award has been given annually by the Alliance since 2013, and it was renamed recently to honor Bernice Joseph, an influential University of Alaska educator who passed away in 2014.

About the Alliance: The Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders is a membership organization based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Alliance members are the chief academic officers of the community colleges and technical schools and their associated system and state agencies in the WICHE region. Through the Alliance, these leaders share perspectives on current issues, work together on regional projects beyond the scope of a single institution or state, and contribute resources and expertise to build a stronger future for higher education in the West. The Alliance was founded in 2010 with seed money provided by the Western Academic Leadership Forum, also based at WICHE.

About WICHE: Established by Congress in 1953, WICHE is one of four U.S. higher education regional compacts. WICHE’s programs and efforts help students pursue higher education affordably and conveniently, accelerate regionwide sharing of ideas and resources, provide expert research and policy guidance, and help higher education stakeholders thrive amidst rapid change. WICHE is funded by its members—who reap strong returns on investment from WICHE programs—and by grant makers and others who share our desire to overcome the education and workforce challenges of tomorrow. Learn more at wiche.edu.


Jasmine Leonas Communications Manager
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
3035 Center Green Drive, Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80301