August 29, 2023

Academic Success Center looks to offer more streamlined student support services

A student studies at a desk in her dorm room.
Streamlined services available through the Academic Success Center will help students excel in the classroom.

Long-term student success leader Angela Zanardelli named director

Wayne State’s Academic Success Center (ASC) works to help all students become self-determined learners with the skills they need to succeed in the classroom. The ASC’s robust services — including tutoring, supplemental instruction, study skills coaching, group workshops and academic persistence programming — will be available to students this fall through a simplified, streamlined structure. The ASC’s services remain free and available seven days a week. Services are offered remote and in-person, and evening hours are available to accommodate students’ schedules.

Assistant Vice President for Student Success Darryl Gardner

“We’re always seeking to improve the support we provide to students,” said Darryl Gardner, assistant vice president for student success. “Our Academic Success Center has a team of dedicated professionals and a strong history of providing research-based services to support effective learning. In rethinking how we connect with students, we hope to make it even easier for them to engage with us to improve their academic experience and succeed.”

Angela Zanardelli, who was recently named the director of student academic success, said that rather than self-select from the ASC’s entire suite of services, students can simply schedule through a guided appointment system designed to direct them to the best service(s) for their needs in a more curated, customized process. Many of the ASC’s services — including tutoring and supplemental instruction, study skills coaching, and student success workshops — now fall under the broader umbrella of Learning Support Services, which are overseen by Associate Director Christine Huang. Additionally, the ASC is introducing a pilot program for Academic Persistence, overseen by Associate Director Veronica Killebrew, which will offer structured, customized academic plans for students working to raise their grades in current classes, succeed in a repeated course or navigate academic probation.

Director of Student Academic Success Angela Zanardelli

“Expecting that a student knows which of our many services to register for is a dangerous assumption. They know they need assistance, but not necessarily which service will best support their academic needs,” Zanardelli said. “The goal in intentionally streamlining the ASC’s process is to take the guesswork and jargon out of seeking support and to make it more accessible and less intimidating for students.” 

A natural student success leader

In addition to overseeing the ASC in her new role, Zanardelli will provide broader strategic insight and leadership to support Wayne State’s ongoing commitment to student success. Gardner observed that in many ways, Zanardelli’s professional and personal experiences make her the ideal person for the role. With an academic background focused on the science of learning and firsthand experience working with students individually and in the classroom, she is uniquely suited to both understand and enhance the student academic experience.

Zanardelli has served Wayne State and its students for 16 years, earning multiple promotions while leading projects that have become core to student success. She previously served as the associate director of the Study Skills Academy and dedicated nine years to designing and coordinating the university’s primary first-year experience course, FYS 1010: Learning with the Brain in Mind.

“I’m extremely excited to welcome Angela into this new role,” said Gardner. “Through years of devoted service, she has pioneered innovative learning strategies and cultivated a community of empowered students and educators. Her visionary leadership has not only elevated academic achievement but has also fostered an environment where every individual is inspired to reach their full potential. As we embark on this new chapter with her at the helm of the ASC, we celebrate her remarkable journey and eagerly anticipate the continued transformation she will undoubtedly bring.”

As a first-generation student herself, Zanardelli can relate to many of the challenges and triumphs that Wayne State students experience.

“I struggled academically and have questioned whether I belong. It never occurred to me that I’d be working at a university, much less in this type of role,” she said. “Those struggles, though, have given me insight and empathy for the students’ individual experiences and have made me an effective leader in student success.”

Collaborating with campus partners

In her new role, Zanardelli hopes to build on lessons from her service to WSU and its students — primarily that all students are capable of academic achievement, and their success is a fueled by a collaborative, compassionate approach.

“I feel strongly that students put a great deal of time and effort into learning course materials, but for a multitude of reasons it’s sometimes unfruitful. Students are trying, and it’s our responsibility to collectively support them,” she said. “The research-based strategies we provide through the Academic Success Center will help them improve their grades and their academic lives. We can all be ambassadors for student success.”

She hopes that academic advisors and other campus partners will work closely with the ASC to share academic support services.

“We’re highly interested in mobilizing services. Consider the ASC to be the DoorDash of learning support — we want to meet students where they are,” she said. “I’m extremely open to partnerships with academic programs to embed these services across campus. We welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss customizing services for specific needs.”

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