Elun Gabriel speaking with a student

Reasons for Giving

The Center for Student Achievement

Jonathan Brown

The George I. Alden Trust has given $180,000 to the new St. Lawrence Center for Student Achievement. The generosity of this gift and its impact reflect the Alden Trust’s focus on supporting projects that contribute significantly to the intellectual growth of students and, as the namesake of the Trust has said, doing “the greatest good for the greatest number of beneficiaries.”

The funding decision by the Trustees of the Alden Trust is also an acknowledgement of the Laurentian community’s stewardship of the campus. That’s according to Elizabeth Haney, the University’s senior officer for corporate and foundation relations/sponsored research for strategic initiatives.

“Members of the Alden Trust toured the campus,” she says. “They saw how St. Lawrence put the Trust’s past donations—and gifts from others—to work on infrastructure that serves students. The proposal for the Center for Student Achievement demonstrated our commitment to helping our students reach their full potential. This, and a number of other factors, earned the support of the Alden trustees.” 

The Center, or CSA, is designed to bring together students, their advisors, and our broad range of academic support services. Elun Gabriel is associate professor of history and the associate dean of academic advising at St. Lawrence. 

“The CSA’s top priority,” he says, “is helping students make meaningful connections with faculty and others who can help their academic and professional careers.”

The Center will house the offices and staff of Academic Advising, the First-Year Program, the Disability and Accessibility Office and other academic support services. This space will also be home to the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Career Connections as well as New York’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

“After the Center opens in the fall of 2018,” Gabriel says, “nearly every incoming student will visit these offices during their time at St. Lawrence. This is where they can talk with us and learn about all the services and opportunities the University offers them.”

Located in Madill Hall, the CSA will be near the Sullivan Student Center and the Johnson Hall of Science. The central location is important, according to Gabriel. He says this will make it easier for students to visit and explore their interests outside classrooms and labs. 

The $4 million project will create an inviting, modern space that uses both state-of-the-art technology and the close proximity of support-office staff to help St. Lawrence students thrive at every phase of their growth and development. 

“By working closely together,” Gabriel says, “we’re able to better identify the specific needs of our students. Someone may come in asking about academic advising or tutoring and find that assistive technology offers the help they’re looking for—or maybe it’s a combination of these services.”

At its core, he adds, the new Center reflects the importance of interpersonal connections to student success.  

“When advisors work with students,” he says, “we’re face-to-face, talking about academics and campus experiences. We ask what’s happening in their lives, are they physically active or taking part in student groups. We try to get a sense of how these things might help or hinder our students.”

Many of those seeking assistance reveal important links between their coursework and issues far from the classroom.

“Academic challenges are often connected to challenges in other parts of students’ lives. And the same is true of academic success. We see this as we help students improve their time-management, writing, test-taking or other skills.”

For Gabriel, this is the personalized attention that draws many students to small schools.

“These are the human connections that make the Laurentian experience unique,” he says. “This is how we show students that—in addition to their instructors—many more faculty and staff members are here for them. We all want to help students excel across the curricula and gain more confidence in their abilities.”

The Center for Student Achievement will be a model of academic support, engaging students at each stage of their college career—from acclimating to new social or academic challenges as First-Years to the moment they need advice on graduate school or post-grad fellowships.

To support our students and the University’s goals, donors can make charitable gifts that help us renovate and name CSA spaces after family members, mentors, friends or themselves. For more information, contact Vice President for University Advancement Tom Pynchon at tpynchon@stlawu.edu or 315-229-5583.