blog_retention1To many it is just a number, to some it is just a fancy word to flout about, and to few it isn’t even in their vocabulary. This simple word means so much yet is hardly understood; in the massive world of academia it is easy to forget what it really means.

The dictionary defines retention as “the continued possession, use, or control of something,” but even that doesn’t quite seem right in the scope of education.

You don’t want to “possess” your students, or use them or control them. As a matter of fact that is almost the complete opposite of what you want. Your students shape your faculty, your campus, and your school… You don’t want to “possess” them…

So what do you want to do?

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Lighthouse Day 2020

It’s one of our team’s favorite days of the year — National Lighthouse Day!

We’ve been posting lighthouse facts and quotes from our team about what lighthouses symbolize to us throughout the week on social media. If you missed it, check out #NationalLighthouseDay or #PharosLighthouseAwards on our Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter profiles.

Today, we finish up the celebration by announcing our annual Lighthouse Award recipients. We are recognizing two individuals and one campus who work tirelessly towards excellence in higher education.

We are inspired by the good work our clients continue to do day after day, especially during this trying season. We are thankful for your partnerships and for the opportunity to help serve your communities.

Please join our team in congratulating the following 2020 Lighthouse Award recipients!

2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Outstanding Data & Applications Professional

Lighthouse Day - Debbie Bess

The School:

Hollins University is located in Roanoke, Virginia and has been recognized in 2020 by The Princeton Review and U.S. News Best Colleges lists in several categories. Hollins’ partnership with Pharos began in 2019 with Michael Gettings, Dean of Academic Success, leading the rollout and with a focus on advising.

The Recipient:

Pharos Resources has selected Debbie Bess of Hollins University as the recipient of the 2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award–Outstanding Data & Applications Professional. Debbie is being recognized for her commitment and outstanding work to support Relational Retention.

Debbie has been a member of the Information Technology department at Hollins University for 19 years – most recently as junior database administrator; Enterprise manager. According to Debbie’s co-worker, Bev Witt, Debbie “Is invaluable to the Hollins community. Debbie did an excellent job on the Pharos project, working tirelessly with the users to get the requirements completed in a timely fashion. Hollins is fortunate to have Debbie’s dedication and commitment to the university.”

Rachel Elam, Pharos Resources’ Director of Client Services, states that “Debbie’s thoughtfulness and attention to detail shined throughout the IT-side of Hollins’ Pharos 360 implementation. With her skills and team-focused attitude, she was able to go above and beyond to provide an amazing display of data and relationships. Debbie also worked with our team to develop a new way to import PDF documents that will enhance our ability to display information for our clients as they support their students.”

2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Outstanding Student Success Professional

Lighthouse Day - Andrew Lehr

The School:

Anderson University, located in Anderson, Indiana, has been consistently ranked among America’s top colleges for “being a place where students discover who they’re created to be.” AU’s partnership with Pharos started in 2019.

The Recipient:

Pharos Resources has awarded Andrew Lehr, Director of Student Success at Anderson University, the 2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award–Outstanding Student Success Professional.

Pharos celebrates Andrew’s commitment and tireless work to support Relational Retention. Vice President for Student Success, Rachel Phillips-Buck, states that “The entire Pharos team loves Andrew. He is thoughtful, generous, and driven to excellence in everything he does. He inspires his team and students with his optimistic, innovative spirit- which is evident in each conversation, new initiative, and student success intervention.”

Chris Luekenga, Anderson’s Assistant Provost & Dean of Students, states that “Andrew is a true professional and a joy to work with. His leadership in providing opportunities for student success and concern for AU students is outstanding and it is a privilege to work alongside of him.”

2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Institution of the Year

Lighthouse Day - MVNU

Pharos Resources has chosen Mount Vernon Nazarene University as the winner of the 2020 Pharos Lighthouse Award – Institution of the Year.

According to Rachel Phillips-Buck, Pharos Resources’s Vice President for Student Success, “Joy Strickland, Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Retention at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, has always been a shining light for Student Success at her institution. However, when COVID-19 hit, Joy’s leadership of MVNU’s effort to ensure students were safe and successful was unmatched.”

Phillips-Buck goes on to say that “MVNU was one of the first schools to send students the Pharos/MacMillan Impact survey, resulting in over 500 student responses. With the insights that MVNU collected, the campus community got to work. They identified students who were struggling in myriad ways and began to provide solutions. From delivering financial relief and addressing students’ technology difficulties to empowering faculty-student connections, MVNU made very clear that they were invested in their students’ success. Over the summer, this commitment has not wavered. MVNU created a campaign to call every student, assess their needs, and remind them that although they were not together on campus, they were still a connected community.”

Pharos Resources

Many of our clients have already made decisions to extend Spring Break and/or move to 100% online courses. In the midst of the incredible logistics challenges you are facing, we have been working hard to create tools and best practices to support you and your students in the coming weeks and months. 

Here is a quick 10-minute video to introduce the critical issues that should be addressed as soon as possible: Reinforcing Community: A Relational Response to COVID-19.

You and your team play a vital role to guide students through this crisis.

In addition, on Wednesday, March 18th at 12:00 p.m. CDT please join us for an in-depth webinar as we discuss how to reinforce community in light of this situation. Click here to register for our Community Amidst Corona webinar.

We will continue to work hard to support you, your team and your students. If you have a specific need in this developing situation, please reach out to me. Pharos is a resource for you.
– Rachel Phillips-Buck

EdTech Startups 2019

“Unlike most higher education software companies that essentially ‘sell software, and wish the university the best of luck,’ Pharos Resources is in the trenches with its clients and constantly develops new approaches and practices to serve as an extension of the campus.”

We are grateful to be recognized as one of Education Technology Insights’ Top 10 EdTech Startups. Looking forward to a bright 2020 and beyond!

To read the full article, visit Pharos Resources – Relational Retention for At-risk Students.

2019 Lighthouse Award

It’s National Lighthouse Day!

Lighthouses have always inspired me. They have a profound and unique purpose that serve to safeguard the community, but are also created to be unique works of art, remarkable feats of engineering and to reflect specific cultures and communities.

Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria

The first lighthouse was created in 280 B.C.–the great Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World! This is where we draw our name and company inspiration.

Today, Pharos Resources has been participating in #NationalLighthouseDay by sharing our team’s favorite lighthouses and remarkable stories of lighthouse successes.

We are also taking this opportunity to recognize our annual Lighthouse Award recipients. We are recognizing three Pharos partners who have built incredible practices on their campuses to identify and engage at-risk students.

We are grateful for our relationships with our clients and the remarkable work they do everyday to support their students. We are honored to partner with each of you!

Please join us in congratulating the following Lighthouse Award recipients!

2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Data & Applications Professional

The School:

Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, has been recognized as one of the best colleges in the region and offers one of the most affordable private educations in the nation. They have been a Pharos partner for the past nine years. Brian Carr, Director of the Pathways Center, has been directing the Pharos 360 program on campus for the last seven years and has grown the program from a single-office initiative to broad campus-wide adoption.

The Recipient:

Robert Salosky, the Applications Training and Support Specialist at Waynesburg, became the point person for the Pharos data integration in April of this year. Brian has requested strategic reporting data be incorporated in the Pharos for several years but had no forward movement on the project.

Within two months of Robby being assigned to the project, this necessary Student Information System data was being sent into the system for the first time in our nine year partnership. As Brian said, “A lot of what (Robby) did was self-initiated. Once he inherited this EXTRA project, he could have sat on his hands…but he didn’t.” Because of Robby’s commitment to the Waynesburg IT mission statement, specifically “Daily collaboration, communication, and timely delivery of services to our faculty, staff, students, and alumni,” Brian, his team and the Waynesburg community are positioned to more easily identify their most at-risk students and to analyze the efficacy of their student support programs.

It is with great excitement and appreciation that we award Robert Salosky the 2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award–Data & Applications Professional. We celebrate his commitment and outstanding work to support Relational Retention.

2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Student Success Professional

The School:

Juniata College is located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and serves an undergraduate population of about 1,500 students. Juniata takes a non-traditional approach to college majors, allowing their students to design their own plan of study. In addition, students have two advisors: a primary advisor in their Program of Emphasis and a general advisor from another discipline who coaches students with a different perspective. The QUEST program, (Question, Understand, Explore, Seek, Transform) supported by Pharos 360 software, is a program that provides resources to students to help them succeed.

The Recipient:

Blair Cutright has held many positions at Juniata College. Originally hired as the Assistant Track and Field Coach and Resident Director in 2011, she transitioned to the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students in 2013 and then to the Quest Coordinator in 2017 while continuing to coach Cross Country and Track! In the two years that Blair has coordinated the Quest program, she has approached it with the commitment and tenacity that in her college days made her a successful athlete. As Dr. Matthew Damschroder, the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, said, “It is so exciting to see Blair Cutright recognized for the retention and success efforts that ground her practice. Through direct support of students, and leadership of our care team and case management, Blair’s work is essential to developing pathways and strategies where students overcome obstacles to persistence and meet their aspirations. Juniata’s students and community are improved by Blair’s vision and implementation of case management and communication best practices, which continue to emerge as she begins her third year as Coordinator of QUEST.”

It is with great excitement and appreciation that we award Blair Cutright the 2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award–Student Success Professional. We celebrate her commitment and tireless work to support Relational Retention.

2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award

Institution of the Year

Pharos Resources’ partnership with Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL started seven years ago at a CCCU Presidents Conference when President Bill Fleming met our President, Matt Boisvert. The two recognized in each other a shared passion for innovative and bold approaches to Student Success.

We formalized our relationship 2012 and the school of 3,800 students has been doubling down on their student support investments since. Development of programs such as their one-day orientation program, SOAR, The Bridges Scholars Program, Impact Leadership Team, and Discipleship assistants have all made a significant impact on Student Success. Waypoint, PBA’s branding for their Early Alert program powered by Pharos 360, has helped the school increase focus on at-risk students and increase retention 11% from 2012-2018.

Palm Beach Atlantic is recognized as the 2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award– Institution of the Year because of their renewed excitement and investment they have made in the 2018 -2019 school year.

Pharos consultants have made two visits to the university, including a trip by President Fleming’s invitation to address the Board of Trustees on retention issues. The cornerstone of this initiative is the tireless work of Bob Lutz, Dean of Students and Kate Magro, Assistant Dean of Students who are constantly investing in training staff and faculty, identifying the highest risk population of students, and providing touchpoint relationships and interventions to aid students in their struggles.

It is with great excitement and admiration that we recognize Palm Beach Atlantic University as the 2019 Pharos Lighthouse Award–Institution of the Year! We are grateful for the commitment they show to student success and the investment they have made to develop best practices for Relational Retention.

Skyfactor and Pharos Resources

Pharos Resources is proud to announce a partnership with Skyfactor, a Macmillan Learning Company, to provide stronger identification, assessment, and solutions to improve student retention and success.

The partnership will integrate Skyfactor’s product Benchworks’ New Student Survey which provides insight into how new students are acclimating to college with Pharos 360, a tool that enables colleges to take action on what they’ve learned. Together, these solutions will provide administrators the ability to expertly assess, monitor, and manage the student experience.

“Since 2010, Pharos has been focused on developing powerful tools to enhance the important work of engaging at-risk students. Our partnership with SkyFactor now provides the seamless integration of their research-driven assessments and our Relational Retention technology. This is a truly unique system for Higher Education to improve student outcomes,” said Rachel Phillips-Buck, Vice President of Student Success for Pharos Resources.

To learn more, visit the full press release.

FYE 2018

The next stop for us in 2018 is San Antonio, Texas. We’re excited to exhibit at the 37th annual FYE conference. Matt Boisvert and Rachel Phillips-Buck are looking forward being with those in attendance.


Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience

37th Annual FYE
February 10 – 13, 2018
Grand Hyatt San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas


Will you be in attendance? Let us know and we’ll look forward to meeting up with you!