Houston CSI to welcome, support new Coogs

It sounds like a new television drama, but Houston CSI is actually a new program designed to welcome new students to the University of Houston and connect them to the campus community.

Conceived and coordinated by Simon Bott, chemistry professor, Houston CSI (Cougar Success Initiative) will provide incoming freshmen opportunities to interact with faculty, staff and experienced students. If new Cougars have questions or need directions, they can reach out to these contacts for support.

The first stage of Houston CSI is conducted through the Buddy System. This aspect of the program connects selected first-time-in-college UH applicants to a seasoned third-or fourth-year student, who can offer guidance prior to the fall semester. The initial connection takes place as early as spring before the prospective Coogs graduate from high school.“Buddies” can communicate through e-mail, texting, social media or other communication tools with which they are comfortable. Communication between “Buddies” will occur until freshman orientation.

Following fall orientation, incoming students can engage in the next level of CSI and gain a PAL (Personal Access Liaison). PALs are faculty and staff, who check in on their assigned students during peak “stress” times during their first academic year–the first week of classes, six weeks into the semester, registration and before final exams.

“For students in college for the first time, we are generating contacts that can provide valuable insight on how to navigate the university, what to do before school starts, what to do on the first day, where to go and other crucial information,” Bott said. “Arriving to a campus like this can be intimidating. If we want to promote student success, then we have to reach out to them. This is a way to do that.”

As an extension of Houston CSI, Bott created Profs with Pride (PWP), an initiative in which faculty promote the university’s events and accomplishments to their students. He has long encouraged his students to engage in campus activities and is quick to showcase the university’s strengths during class. Bott also created a PWP blog (https://blogs.uh.edu/pwp/) and a Facebook page.

Although the initiative is titled Profs with Pride, Bott insisted that everyone can participate. Staff and students also should feel free to comment on the blog or sign up on the PWP Facebook page. Likewise, all members of the university family should feel free to endorse the university to new Cougars.

“Once students realize that faculty members like being at UH and are proud to work here, they are more likely to become involved in campus happenings,” he said. “It definitely has an effect on student retention and enhances their experience at the university.”

Bott is currently seeking volunteers for Houston CSI and needs 500 – 600 faculty and staff to serve as PALs. For more details or to volunteer, contact him at sbott@uh.edu.