Home Carrollton UWG Program Honored with Prestigious Regents’ Award

UWG Program Honored with Prestigious Regents’ Award

L to R: Dr. Jon Preston, provost and senior vice president; Amy Ellison, assistant director of Academic Transition Programs and Senior Lecturer of First-Year Writing Program; Bonnie Jett, director of Academic Transition Programs and First-Year Writing Program; Dr. Karen Owen, dean of University College; Mandi Campbell, director of the Institute for Faculty Excellence; Dr. Ryan Bronkema, assistant dean of University College; Dr. Brendan Kelly, president

In a testament to the University of West Georgia’s contributions to student success, UWG’s Academic Transition Programs (ATP) were recently awarded the Regents’ Momentum Award for Excellence in Teaching and Curricular Innovation, a distinction presented by the University System of Georgia.

“This is a tremendous honor, as this award is given to programs that connect purpose, high-impact practices, career exploration and integrative learning,” said Dr. Jon Preston, UWG’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This award also focuses on programs that embody the USG Momentum approach and establish clear evidence of the value of course material to belonging and career preparation. These are core USG strategic endeavors and are essential components of UWG’s strategic plan, as well.”

Presented by the USG Board of Regents, the esteemed Regents’ Awards – of which nine are offered annually across 26 higher education institutions – symbolize the highest recognition of teaching and advising, showcasing a commitment to ensuring and upholding academic excellence.

Housed within University College, ATP centers on a holistic approach to helping students successfully transition from high school to their first year of college. Introductory programs include First-Year Seminars and First-Year Learning Communities that serve to integrate out-of-the-classroom experiences with intentionally designed opportunities to enhance learning and development.

“The ethos of the program is that we are here to help students overcome obstacles in their first year, equipping them with the tools – from study skills to mindsets – to ensure success through college and beyond,” explained Bonnie Jett, director of ATP and the First-Year Writing Program. “UWG students are remarkably diverse, and the Academic Transition Programs goal is to ensure that every student has access to the wide range of resources and support that UWG provides to ensure they are successful, particularly from their freshman to sophomore years.”

Some of ATP’s most unique aspects consist of the Cornerstone Courses, which first emerged in 2017 as part of the Complete College Georgia initiative. Jett said these classes focus on three overarching goals when working with first-year students: connecting them with a faculty mentor who’s invested in their success, introducing them to the full range of campus support resources and helping them recognize real-world applications of their academic journeys to spark a lifelong love of learning.

“ATP and our Cornerstone courses are innovative in how they offer the tangible, universal skills all students need but many lack,” Jett continued. “Every section begins with a growth mindset lab, helping students understand not just the crucial role that mindset plays in success but also presenting them with the scientific evidence behind that concept. We also focus on career readiness while guiding students as they begin exploring potential careers and learn how their unique skills and motivations transfer across the spectrum of future employment.”

The outcomes of ATP’s Cornerstone program are evident in the data. Most significantly, fall-to-fall retention statistics show a consistent, five-year +8% positive impact for participating students, which has contributed to rising retention overall.

With a rich diversity of topics – like “Level Up: the Freshman Game of Life” and “#adulting: Learning Life Skills in a Digital World” – ATP is poised to offer more than 40 courses in the upcoming fall semester.

“The beating heart of this program are the faculty members who teach these classes,” Jett concluded. “They are dedicated to helping students in the first year while also helping to unlock a love of learning and the ability to make connections between what goes on in the classroom – any classroom – and their own lives.”

photography by Julia Mothersole

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Originally from East Tennessee, Julie Lineback joined the University of West Georgia in August 2006. Her career started in 2000, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While serving as a communications specialist at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, she received an Award of Quality from the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest public relations organization, for her work on a catalog. She also worked as a website editor, copywriter and search engine specialist for BellSouth, where she was a certified Google AdWords Professional. Most recently, she received the UWG School of Communication, Film, and Media's Distinguished Service Award for 2023.