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University of Akron success coaching program moving forward
New student retention effort has sparked criticism because of university layoffs

Kevin Niedermier
The University of Akron will have at least 15 "success coaches" ready where school starts at the end of the month.
Courtesy of University of Akron
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The University of Akron’s controversial “success coaching” program is on-track to start helping incoming freshmen successfully graduate. Trust Navigator of Cleveland was hired earlier this month for $840,000 even though it has never done student coaching. The move was also criticized because the university had just laid off more than 200 employees to help close a funding gap. WKSU's Kevin Niedermier reports.

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After signing a contact about a week ago, Trust Navigator COO Rob Reho says they’ve hired 15 coaches and will spend all of next week training them before school starts August 31st. He expects to hire at least two more people. The coaches will work with existing student success staff. Each coach will be responsible for about 275 freshmen, helping them with study skills, time management and referrals to campus services. Reho stresses that though his company is not a student coaching firm, it is a program manager and facilitator.

“This is really the University of Akron’s program, and we’re developing and customizing it to what they want. For us to come in with a success coach program and say, here, we need you to buy in on this, that’s not fair to them. It’s not a one size fits all.”

Trust Navigator was picked over an established student coaching firm that wanted 54 percent more for the job. Many universities hire student coaches because funding is tied to graduation rates.

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