Duo earns top honors for retention program

contact: Michelle Shember
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Two staff members from Western Michigan University have been awarded first place in the Innovation in Business Education Award program sponsored by the MidAmerican Business Deans Association.

Geralyn Heystek, director of the Haworth College of Business career center, and Chris Robinson, assistant director of academic advising in the college, earned the award for developing WMU’s Phoenix Program, an initiative designed to support the growth and success of students, specifically those in the Haworth College of Business.



About the program

The duo developed an academic recovery course designed to provide students with needed support in various areas of study and a system to monitor and follow up with all students on probation. In collaboration with Dr. Joseph Reish, dean of university libraries, 

Christopher Tremblay, associate provost for enrollment management, and Katie Easley, coordinator of student success services in the College of Arts and Sciences, the team also worked to establish a dedicated space in the library, known as the Bronco Study Zone, for students across campus to complete required study hours.

"One of the main benefits of the program is retention of students to the University. Students who took the academic recovery course were significantly more likely to get back into good standing or stay at the University, compared to those who did not take the academic recovery course," Heystek says.

The Phoenix Program will continue to grow this fall with the launch of the Bronco Study Zone, a pre-business mentor program, the addition of three higher education and student affairs interns, additional offerings of college success courses in the spring semester, and the implementation of support programming for incoming at-risk freshmen identified through the College of Arts and Sciences success survey.

"My interest in creating the Phoenix Program grew from a desire to address a need for college of business services for at-risk students," says Robinson. "It was the right thing to do to develop programming to help our college of business students who had potential to succeed if given additional support."

Heystek and Robinson will receive their award and present their innovative program as part of a panel discussion in October at the MABDA Annual Meeting in Chicago.