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Ripon College Franzen Center offers new avenues to provide academic support

The Franzen Center for Academic Success at Ripon College is a dynamic new learning environment that opened on the first level of Lane Library in the fall of 2019.

Made possible through the generosity of Mark Franzen and Janice Heinz Franzen, alumni of the Class of 1983, the center brings all tutoring and academic support services into one coordinated, high-tech space with six collaborative study rooms.

About 80 highly trained students — including 35 who are first generation — conduct one-toone and group tutoring sessions. This fall, the center had more than 300 tutoring contracts, the highest in 12 years, representing 206 individual students.

“There were 322 individual students who used at least one of the following services: contracted tutoring, PLUS, writing/presentation drop-in, or quantitative drop-in,” says Brenda Gabrielson, director of the center. PLUS, Peer Lead Undergraduate Study, is a 90-minute workshop lead by a peer leader who works with the instructor to create a more hands-on, activity-based learning environment.

The Franzen Center also offers academic assistance with writing/presentation, with 517 drop-in visits during the fall; and quantitative drop-in tutoring, with 116 visits.

Faculty and staff are highly committed to student success and assist students well beyond traditional expectations. Jean Rigden, director of teacher education, is a faculty mentor in the Franzen Center and helps train and supervise tutors.

“We make connections with students, so they have a person with whom to relate,” she says. “Sometimes, a student will come to me and ask if they can just talk about something. And, I tell them, ‘Yes, I’ll be your college ‘mom’ right now.’”

The center’s adaptive approach to the types of services needed and how they are addressed is responding to the changing needs of student learning and the evolving needs and expectations of the working world.