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SLU’s Hargrove Leads National Summer Session Association

07/09/2020

A premier professional association focused on excellence in summer and special sessions is benefiting from Billiken best practices and expertise under the leadership of Saint Louis University’s Troy Hargrove (PS’ 03, Grad CSB ’08).

Troy Hargrove, MBA

Hargrove, associate dean in the School for Professional Studies and director of the summer-winter office, is currently serving as president of the North American Association of Summer Sessions (NAASS) through 2021.

NAASS, whose members lead summer and special sessions at institutions across the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, pinpoints new trends and promotes the sharing of best practices among higher education professionals and leaders as they work to improve the academic, fiscal and student service impact of summer and special sessions.

With summer and special programs suspended and significantly altered due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, Hargrove and NAASS have turned to supporting their peers navigate the rapidly shifting landscape.

"This year, we have seen the value that the NAASS community can provide summer and special session offices that have undergone tremendous changes during the COVID-19 pandemic," Hargrove said. "Our institutions' ability to respond to challenges, disappointments and obstacles presented by COVID-19 has been tremendous."

"In many instances, institutions have looked to those of us in the summer and special session areas to be thoughtful leaders, industry experts and crisis managers," he continued. "For me, being called upon to be one of those leaders was not taken lightly, and it has been through the support of my SLU leadership team and NAASS colleagues. Their strong sense of community and knowledge is what has helped me be successful despite the unknown."

Hargrove has served the organization in a number of leadership roles including as assistant regional vice president for the organization’s North Central Region, as membership chair, on its Strategic Planning Committee, and as its president-elect.

In his term as president, Hargrove will facilitate a two-day New Administrators Workshop for the sixth year in a row, where he has oriented more than 200 administrators from programs across North America among other initiatives.

“The organization is at its best when dedicated volunteers give openly and generously of their time, energy and knowledge to advance our mission, share best practices and serve as valuable resources to one another,” Hargrove said. “I have learned and grown as a professional through my involvement with NAASS, and it is my hope that I can inspire others to do the same.”

Pivoting to Support Peers During Unprecedented Times

As COVID-19 rapidly impacted higher education, Hargrove and his NAASS colleagues shifted into high gear to offer support and advice to members grappling with the pandemic's fallout.

NAASS offered 14 weekly webinars from February through May in partnership with the Association of University Summer Sessions (AUSS) and Association of Pre-College Program Directors on topics including moving summer courses online, managing study abroad offices and creating an online community for summer programs. 

For me, being called upon to be one of those leaders was not taken lightly, and it has been through the support of my SLU leadership team and NAASS colleagues. Their strong sense of community and knowledge is what has helped me be successful despite the unknown."

Troy Hargrove, associate dean and director of the summer-winter office

By mid-April, Hargrove was hearing from schools around the country asking for data points to help them plan their summers. NAASS quickly conducted a survey whose data was shared with more than 130 NAASS member institutions. The data included information related to summer formats, K-12 programming and tuition models among other areas schools could utilize in their decision-making processes.

A follow-up survey is planned in collaboration with AUSS and the Association of Pre-College Program Directors at the end of summer 2020 to help institutions plan going forward.

"A number of institutions are experience summer growth in their summer college-credit courses because summer administrators were able to pivot quickly - including SLU," Hargrove said. 

As of the end of June, SLU are ahead on enrollments and credit hours compared to Summer 2019, and the University had launched two new initiatives -  a campaign marketed to fall 2020 freshmen to get-ahead this summer and take a online class, and a Summer At SLU Academy with the 1818 Office targeting 1818 students and sophomores and juniors in SLU's pipeline encouraging them to get-ahead as well this summer by taking an 1818 online course.

" I was deeply encouraged and amazed by the response to our 'pop-up' webinars around the pandemic as it related to summer and special sessions – the feedback we heard was remarkable," Hargrove said. "Right now, everyone is looking for support and leadership, which are hallmarks of NAASS. There are high-level, big picture things we hope to accomplish each year as an organization, but at the heart of NAASS is its members and what they provide to one another. We have been able to be a leader during this rapidly changing environment."

Sparking Success with SLU’s Special Sessions

Campers participating in Summer at SLU's "Mad Science" camp work out a forensics problem with a camp counselor.

Budding scientists tackle a mystery while learning forensics with a counselor at Summer At SLU's "Mad Science" Camp. Photo by Amelia Flood

Saint Louis University’s Summer At SLU program has been recognized as a best pick for St. Louis students and parents seeking summer camps, academies and enrichment experiences for students from kindergarten through high school under Hargrove’s leadership. Summer 2020 was set feature more than 80 camps and academies, bringing learners to campus from late May through early August prior to the pandemic.

The University’s three-year-old Winter Session has grown to offer nearly 20 courses from variety of disciplines and topics.

Hargrove, a SLU alumnus, has worked in roles across campus from academic advising, recruitment, program management, career services and retention to heading the Summer-Winter Office in addition to serving as associate dean of enrollment management and partnerships in the School for Professional Studies.

An early adopter of a holistic approach to special sessions, Hargrove and his team have worked for nearly a decade to create a broad, rich slate of programs for learners of all ages.

“From ages 4 to 104, we’re engaging people and bringing them to campus,” Hargrove said. “Whether that’s for a camp, college credit course, international experience or just for an event. We are in a unique position to be able to highlight the passions of the SLU community through our summer and special session programming and engage youth, college students, international participants or community members through teaching, involvement and mentorship.”

Students study on a bench on the Quad with a view of Ignatius the Pilgrim and Pius Library in the background.

Special and summer session classes transfer seamlessly into the University, helping students advance their educational journeys. SLU photo

The team also approaches its work with an eye toward helping current and future Billikens advance their educational journeys.

Hargrove points to SLU’s strengths in offering in-demand courses and its vibrant intellectual community where faculty and staff members have opportunities to create and teach innovative courses outside of the regular semester, many of which are online.

“We have our world-class faculty teaching those courses,” Hargrove said. “We know they will transfer seamlessly and that we’re offering the modality that works best for students.”

Beyond college-level courses, summer camps and academies for younger students open new experiences from taking to a SLU stage to perform with theater professionals to honing coding skills.

“They’re being introduced to the University and higher education,” Hargrove said of Summer At SLU’s programs for younger learners. “At the end of the day, we’d love for them to come to SLU, but it’s also equally important to demonstrate that college is accessible and attainable.”

In addition to expanding learning opportunities for current SLU students, the University’s special session programs also build bridges to the wider St. Louis community.

From ages 4 to 104, we’re engaging people and bringing them to campus."

Troy Hargrove, associate dean and director of the summer-winter office

Nourishing relationships with learners from kindergartners to seniors, Hargrove said, means thinking about special session programs deeply and critically.

“Learners of all ages benefit from special session and summer programs because they become part of a community and they build and grow relationships with student role models, with colleagues and with industry and educational experts,” Hargrove said. “Holding ourselves and our programs to the highest standard and thinking rigorously about these programs enables us to enhance these critical outreach opportunities on and beyond our campuses and institutions.”

Future nutritionists learn about healthy eating through cooking at a Summer At SLU camp.

Future nutritionists learn about healthy eating through cooking at a Summer At SLU camp. SLU photo

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.

Story by Amelia Flood, University Marketing and Communications.