Catawba welcomed a new Director of Initiatives for Student Success in the Office of Retention and Academic Support Services in September. Andie Overbeck '06 filled the position and will focus on ensuring that students progress in their college experience without academic or social difficulties.
Overbeck has worked at Lowe's Companies in Mooresville since graduating, most recently as a corporate communications specialist. She believes her experience will help her in her role at Catawba.
"My department was internal communications where I worked on employee engagement – now I'm going from employee to student engagement. At Lowe's, we would manage the intranet for employees – we also had a social media site. Here, I'm doing internal communications on a smaller scale – I'm helping the students who may not have the tools or the knowledge to be successful."
Overbeck is "trying to break down the silos wherein different offices were working independently" to make the work of retaining students more collaborative. She started a group, the Student Engagement and Retention Team, with representatives from Student Affairs, Financial Aid, Athletics, Academics, the Chaplain's Office and Public Safety. This group met Nov. 1 and its meetings will recur periodically.
She has also laid the groundwork to monitor progress of at-risk students through a new software database, the Banner Relationship Manager module. She's worked with IT to create a template in which data for these students can be collected and shared.
"Next semester, we hope this database -- where professors can input information, along with my feedback, athletic feedback – will all be online and all in one place. It will run the gamut for retention – an automated system that will help us be proactive instead of reactive."
In the meantime, she's working on being known and accessible to students. She's kept her office door open, tried to meet and engage every student who happens by, and she's set up a new Twitter account, @GraduateCatawba, where she posts messages and words of encouragement.
"My challenge is figuring out where the problems are. My job is still developing – we're still trying to figure out best practices – I think it will change as I get more grounded. If we have an engaged student, we'll probably have a retained student. My goal is to get them engaged on campus, with campus, for campus."
An active and engaged undergraduate, Overbeck is also an engaged alumna, now completing her term as president of Catawba's Alumni Board. She wants for every student an experience similar hers. "I'm hoping that we can reenergize the students and have them be proud of going to Catawba. I want them to be proud of not only being an athlete, but eventually of being an alum. I want them to leave here with a different attitude, feeling the same way I did, so they can continue to give back to the school over time."
Office of Retention and Academic Support Services