Published: Nov. 19, 2010

MSU Neighborhoods pilot program promotes student success

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129, Philip Strong Lyman Briggs office: (517) 353-6480

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University’s East Neighborhood Engagement Center, the hub for the pilot program of the university’s Neighborhoods initiative, has been open in Hubbard Hall since the start of the semester and has quickly shown signs of success.

The Neighborhoods initiative is a new vision for student success on-campus that better connects where students live and learn. It focuses on four central themes: intercultural development, academic support, residential support, and health and wellness.

“Neighborhoods represent a new model for supporting students’ academic success,” said MSU Provost Kim Wilcox. “The pilot program in the East Neighborhood marks the first time that the entire campus has come together with this level of intention and shared vision in support of our students.”

 “What we’re doing is bringing the resources closer to the students, and in the context of their greatest needs,” said Philip Strong, who is leading the Hubbard Hall pilot project. “These neighborhoods serve as communities where students can connect with faculty, support staff, other students and resources that can help them be successful.”

The East Neighborhood Engagement Center has assembled important resources – from academic to social to health – in one central location to focus on student success in a broader living-learning environment.

The center in Hubbard serves the East Neighborhood, which also includes Akers and Holmes halls. It is staffed by a core team of professionals from across campus whose task is to look across all elements of the living-learning experience and determine where, when and to what extent they can best assist in delivering the kinds of support that students need to be successful at MSU.

For example, in Hubbard there is a Math Learning Center which recently attracted more than 150 students for a math tutoring and test preparation session.

“The Math Learning Center provides support for all students at all levels,” said Strong, who is also an assistant dean in MSU’s Lyman Briggs College. “This helps take away the stigma of any student feeling less prepared than his or her peers in other math courses.”

The Math Learning Center is a partnership between the Engagement Center and the Department of Mathematics.

Also located in Hubbard is a branch of the Writing Center, which offers students one-on-one help; and a student health services clinic that provides primary care, health education and preventive medicine. Since the clinic opened the second week of October, more than 140 students have scheduled appointments with the health care provider.

There is also a Sparty’s Café that includes a coffee shop, convenience store and grill.

“I call it a Sparty’s on steroids,” Strong said. “It not only provides students with a wide array of services, but also serves as a gathering spot for all levels of students, from freshmen to medical students.”

Once the Neighborhoods initiative is fully implemented, there will be seven neighborhoods geographically spaced throughout the campus.

More information on the initiative is available at


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Philip Strong is the former director of the East Neighborhood Engagement Center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

Philip Strong is the former director of the East Neighborhood Engagement Center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

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