First Year Experience

Student Success and Retention Initiatives

Western Illinois University offers many focused initiatives, offices, and supports to assist students in finding success. The Student Success and Retention Initiatives Area, housed in the Division of Student Success, focuses on the development of the student experience at Western Illinois University to enhance student success.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about Retention Initiatives.

Initiatives and Support

Through programmatic development, process review and creation, and data analyzation, the Western Illinois University endeavors to positively impact student retention and success. 

University Retention Initiative Plan

The University Retention Initiative Team was charged with the development of a University retention plan. Utilizing institutional research data, best practice review, comparisons to peer institutions, and insight from current students, faculty, staff, non-retained students, and alumni, the University Retention Initiative Team developed a list of barriers to retention and student success. This plan outlines recommended actions Western Illinois University could take to support goals, overcome barriers, and improve student success. This plan is understood to be a direct development of the 2017-2027 Higher Values in Higher Education strategic planning document. The University Retention Initiative Plan and updates can be found here.

Outreach and Support

The Office of Outreach and Retention Initiatives coordinates outreach text, call, email, and other campaigns throughout the year to share resources, insight, and support. Our Teleconnector team consists of a group of Western Illinois University students who have a passion for assisting and supporting fellow students.

Connections Mapping Program

The Connections Mapping Program focused on connecting students to valuable campus resources during critical times throughout the semester.

Area Offices

New Student and Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs focus on the onboarding and transition of our new students as well as support for Leatherneck family members. Leatherneck Launch (new student orientation in fall, spring, summer), Leatherneck First Four (welcome programming), and Camp Leatherneck are key programs coordinated by the New Student and Family Programs team. New Student and Family Programs also focuses on the development of support for transfer students, students with children, first-generation students, and other important student populations with varied experiences. 

Office of Student Engagement
The Office of Student Engagement's mission is to provide students with practical, educational, and leadership opportunities that complement the academic experience and foster a sense of belonging. The Office of Student Engagement offers support, knowledge, and resources to individual students and student organizations in planning, implementing, and evaluating cultural, social, educational, and service programs.

Multicultural Center
The Multicultural Center, home of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, Casa Latina, the Women’s Center, and the LGBT*QA Resource Center, aims to advance the goals of educational, social, and cultural awareness. Together, the MCC provides resources to enhance the campus community’s understanding and appreciation of all identities.

Student Rights and Responsibilities
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) strives to support safe, inclusive, and educational learning environments aiding in student success. Student Rights and Responsibilities endeavors to support Western Illinois University’s core values by reinforcing standards of academic excellence, promoting educational opportunity both inside and outside the classroom, enhancing personal growth of community members, and highlighting the importance of social responsibility while protecting student rights and addressing behavioral problems.

Veterans Resource Center
The Veterans Resource Center is committed to assisting those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military, and their family members. In collaboration with an array of University departments and community organizations, the center provides coordinated services and resources in a one-stop location to ensure that all veterans and service members are afforded the greatest opportunities for success.

Office of Outreach and Retention Initiatives
The Office of Outreach and Retention Initiatives provides mentorship programming resources and early intervention initiatives for students located in Sherman Hall. The Office of Retention Initiatives works closely with the Provost's Office on the implementation of the First Year Experience program, as well as the Division of Student Services to ensure processes are in place to support students. More can be learned about the Office of Retention Initiatives at

Area Leadership

Assistant Vice President of Student Success and Enrollment

Justin Schuch
Sherman Hall 321

Director of Multicultural Center

Katy Valentin
Multicultural Center

Director of New Student and Family Programs

Dr. Michelle Janisz
Memorial Hall 008 

Interim Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities

Kelly Severs
Sherman Hall 317

Director of Office of Student Engagement

Nick Katz
University Union

Director of Student Outreach and Support

Jackie Price
Sherman Hall 118

Director of Veterans Resource Center

Ron Pettigrew
Wright Residence, 333 N. Ward Street

Assistant Director of  Student Success