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NonTraditional Student Center





Nontraditional & Gender Programs within the Dean of Students Office covers 3 student centers in the Wyoming Union:  The Rainbow Resource Center (RRC), the Nontraditional Student Center (NSC), and the Women's Center (WC).  Each of these centers supports the mission and legal requirements of UW and of Student Affairs by serving distinct underrepresented, protected groups on campus.  Each center has a unique mission since it serves different populations:  The mission and goals for each center are listed below:

  • 1. RRC mission: To provide a safe and supportive environment for students who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersexual and Allies (LGBTQIA).
  • 2. NSC mission: Our mission is to provide a supportive center where nontraditional students can receive information, resources and services to assist their transition to, retention at, and eventual graduation from UW & also gather for academics, socialization & exchanging ideas, etc.
  • 3. WC mission: Provide a supportive environment for discussion, knowledge, & programming that celebrates, encourages, and recognizes women and their allies.



Center Usage:  Maintaining and increasing center usage by students is one indicator of success.  The RRC increased its usage this past year.  The NSC decreased usage slightly which we believe was due to the transitions in center staff and Nontraditional Student Council issues that surfaced this year.  The WC was open and functional this year as a separate center.  Thus, the WC established a baseline of usage for this year.  The chart below demonstrates functional usage of each center over the past 2 years.


Retention & Graduation Data:  The centers exist to help with transition to and retention and graduation from UW for each population.  This year, retention and graduation data for two of our center populations (nontraditional students and women) were obtained.  Because UW does not have a way to identify LGBT students, we cannot track retention and graduation for this population.   The following chart provides retention and graduation rates for women and nontraditional students over the age of 25 who entered UW for the first time as freshmen or transfer students. 

Our retention baseline for women freshman students at UW will be 77.5% for next year.  Our graduation baseline for women freshman students will be to exceed the 57.3% graduation rate.  We had an increase in the number of women transfer students entering UW.  Our retention baseline for women transfer students will be 71.8% and our graduation baseline for women transfer students will be to exceed the 57.6% graduation rate.

For nontraditional students, the data shows we need to pay attention to transfers who are over the age of 25.  Our nontraditional transfer retention baseline will be to exceed a 67.4% retention rate and a 45% graduation rate.

Assessment of Key Indicators/Goals/Student Learning Outcomes:  The following chart illustrates our assessment of outcomes for each center during the past two years.


The centers met their goals and objectives.  The centers increased the reach of their audience and the number of programs offered.  They are strong in two areas:  1) enhancing feelings of engagement, belonging, loyalty (82.5% in RRC and 75% in NSC) and 2) helping students gain greater self-understanding (90% in RRC and 62.7% in NSC).  These were increases in ratings from the previous year.  More programs need to be offered on promoting healthy choices in the RRC and all three centers need to focus on academic and transition support. 


The Nontraditional Student Center assisted the ASUW Nontraditional Student Council with their programs instead of working on center-related programs.  So the NSC will need to refocus on center specific programming to increase our services and usage.  ASUW hired a new coordinator to work with its programs and services and will be working with the council in the future.  This will help us refocus our efforts in serving nontraditional students.


This year, the Women's Center occupied its own unique space in Union 102 and began to do distinct programming.  The number of WC programs increased 62.5% this year.  The Women's Center will be able to do more to establish this center's programs in the future.  Thus, this year is our baseline year to establish usage and programming levels given budget considerations. 


Aside from programming, our electronic newsletters continue to reach a wider audience.  A major success this year was the implementation of the $50,000 Daniels Opportunity Scholarship in the Nontraditional Student Center which increased our direct scholarship support by 80%.  In addition, we wrote for the $50,000 Osher Adult Re-entry Scholarship which will be implemented next year.


Facilities:  All centers upgraded facilities this year.  Using ASUW Special Projects Grant funds, the RRC and NSC obtained new bookshelves for library resources and a new computer table in the Women's Center was purchased.  Our major accomplishment was setting up with Women's Center with student computers and resource materials and keeping it open for student use. 


Marketing the Invisible/Outreach/Service:  Our major accomplishment was establishing a Women's Center email distribution list serve to market increased programming this year as noted in the key indicators chart.  We also continued to send electronic newsletters to students on our lists.  We continue to participate in the Orientation Resource Fairs and especially the Nontraditional & Transfer Orientations to market services.  We also obtained a new bulletin board from the Union for use by the Nontraditional Student Center and the Women's Center in the hallway.  All the center websites were updated and we now have the capability with support from staff in Multicultural Affairs to update websites immediately if needed. 


Programming:  Our goal was to increase visibility, programming and services in the centers.  The results were an 84% increase in the Rainbow Resource Center in the number of programs offered and a 62.5% increase in the Women's Center.  Programming for the Nontraditional Student Center remained stable; however, the NSC ended up providing support to the ASUW Nontraditional Student Council for their events and it negatively impacted our ability to do programming in the center. All centers participated with the Wyoming Union in Safe Treat which brought families into the centers.   


  • The Rainbow Resource Center offered programs such as Donuts for Diversity, OUTSpoken educational panels, LGBTQ Faculty & Staff Reception; Alley Panel; Webinar on GLBTQ Friendly Environment; Webinar on Suicide Prevention; Career & Internship Prep session; Health on the Go; Graduate School Preparation; Two Shepard Symposium meet & greets; Aids Walk support; Take Back the Night; RRC Town Hall; Day of Silence reception; Finals Week Quiet Study Hours; and all the orientation resource fairs.


  • The Nontraditional Center sponsored or co-sponsored programs such as support for ASUW Nontraditional Student Council meetings; NUTS Week Time Management session; session for SSS nontraditional participants; Nontraditional Student Banquet; Career Prep session; Graduate School Prep session, and participated in all the orientation resource fairs as well as doing several breakout sessions for Nontraditional Students during Transfer & Nontrad Orientation Sessions.


  • The Women's Center sponsored or co-sponsored programs such as Women's Leadership Conference; Health on the Go; WC Open House; Modern Women on the College Campus; Self-defense and Women's Safety; Take Back the Night; NCCWSL session & dinner; and work with the Women's Leadership Programming efforts on campus.


The centers collaborate with the following units:  SLCE, Gender & Women's Studies; Women's Action Network; University Counseling Center; Wyoming Union; McNair Scholars Program; SEO;  ASUW Nontraditional Student Council; Spectrum; Queer Advocacy Network, Safe Zone, Multicultural Affairs and the MRC; the Veterans Center; Shepard Symposium Committee, UW Foundation, and the Good Mule Project.


Staffing successes and challenges:   Staffing continues to be a major challenge for the centers.  The loss of a full-time coordinator in 2009 continues to impact the delivery of professional services and direct student contact with students.  The centers have been able to hire two student employees per center through both federal workstudy and departmental part-time funds, each working about 10 hours a week to provide 20 hours coverage during a 40 hour week.  We need to continue to work towards a full-time professional employee staffing the centers.


Efforts to enhance diversity in students, staff, and programming:  The Nontraditional and Gender Programs centers exemplify UW's commitment to diversity in that they serve underrepresented or protected-class students at UW (age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, veterans, etc.) and help keep UW legally compliant with its affirmative action efforts for these populations outside of the employment arena.  Our programming has also strived to include diverse presenters in panels, programs, etc.  We are contributing to the leadership development of women as well. 




In FY 2012, the centers will continue to work on increased visibility and programming to meet our student learning outcomes.  We will be working to increase the funding for scholarships or other support from external sources to serve these students (SSP Action Item 15 and 18).  We will support leadership development efforts such as Women's Leadership and hope to establish a LGBTQ leadership development series in collaboration with SLCE (SSP Action Item 39) in FY 2012.  The Nontraditional Student Center will focus on programming to meet the needs of nontraditional students at UW through the center.




The Nontraditional & Gender Programs unit needs active support in two areas:  1) return of professional full-time staffing to at least 1.0 FTE (we had 1.7 in 2006) and 2) increased support services budget for programming ($10,000/center would be optimal and $5,000/center would be minimal.  Right now we have only $5,342.00 in support to run three (3) centers paying for telecommunications, duplicating, supplies and programming.  Of that amount, $2,100 is set aside for programming in FY 2011.  UW is interested in increasing its support to nontraditional students and we need the funding to be able to do so.  Finally, our centers have been working on increased visibility and that has increased; however, we need strong advocacy at the DOS level for these increases in support budgets.  DOS will be providing support via graduate assistantship funding for the upcoming year.   


CONCLUDING COMMENTS:   Given that women comprise over 50% of UW's enrollment and nontraditional students comprise 38% of UW's enrollment and the GLBTQIA community is estimated at 3.5-10% of the student body, we have worked hard to increase the visibility and programming in the centers this year.  With the establishment of a full-time position in the Veteran's Services Center, it is hoped that FY 2012 will bring the center staff an increased opportunity to focus on these three centers within Nontraditional & Gender Programs and grow even more in visibility, programming, and support to this large student population.   


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