U.Belong program earns recognition at 2013 Educause conference - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

U.Belong program earns recognition at 2013 Educause conference

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Promotional video for U.Belong featuring Hayley Henderson and Kat Cannella. Photo credit: YouTube.com. Promotional video for U.Belong featuring Hayley Henderson and Kat Cannella. Photo credit: YouTube.com.
Danna Gibson, CSU Department of Communication Chair. Photo courtesy Columbus State University. Danna Gibson, CSU Department of Communication Chair. Photo courtesy Columbus State University.
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(WTVM) -

A team of four professors, including CSU Communication Department chair Danna Gibson, recently finished first among 12 competing teams of professors from 49 colleges and universities at the 2013 Educause conference in Anaheim, Calif. 

Gibson's team earned the recognition by developing a program called U.Belong, which matches college seniors with corporate mentors who help better prepare students to enter the workforce. The program targeted oral and written communication skills, conflict resolution, teamwork, and leadership skills. Gibson says these are core areas the CSU Department of Communication focuses on with students as well.

"Fifty-two percent of employers say college graduates lack these skills, and U.Belong's focus would be to help students obtain these in a unique way that involves universities, corporate partners and students," Gibson says. "The U.Belong model flips the traditional model of worker training programs and student university community experiences."

Courtney Mason, Hayley Henderson, Kat Cannella and Dan Quigley—all students, alumni and staff with department's Nonprofit and Civic Engagement (NPACE) Center—assisted Gibson's team by producing a promotional video for U.Belong. According to Gibson, the competition's judges were impressed by these creative contributions.

The announcement of the winners at the Educause conference was the final step in a process that began last April with preliminary meetings, followed by a Breakthrough Models Academy in July at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Accessibility, affordability and effectiveness were goals of the instructional models that used innovation and technology to improve college readiness and completion. A selection committee chose academy participants from across the nation based on applicants' management and leadership experience, roles at their respective institutions, commitment to academic transformation and innovation, and other criteria.

Gibson says she hopes to further develop and possibly implement the U.Belong model at Columbus State. 

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