Rivier University awarded $205,000 grant for strengths-based wellness program

The Davis Education Foundation has approved a three-year grant totaling $205,379 to develop a new program titled Strengths-Based Well-Being: Connecting Learning and Life. The campus-wide project is aimed at strengthening students’ self-concept, well-being, retention, and post-graduate success. This initiative aligns with the University’s Vision 2020 Strategic Plan to incorporate strengths-based strategies for both student success and staff development.

“One of Rivier’s distinctive strengths is its belief that developing and supporting well-being is an integral part of a holistic education,” says Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, Rivier’s President. “We approach this project as a community of learners, investing in the growth and success of our entire community.”

All students are expected to benefit, with the greatest gains anticipated for students who have yet to identify a desired major and career path. “The Davis Grant will enable our students to identify their innate strengths thereby increasing their self-awareness and self-confidence,” says Dr. Brad Stull, Professor of English and the project’s director. “The program will increase students’ resiliency and assist them in negotiating the transition from high school to college, and, ultimately, to their lives after graduation.” Guiding students’ vocational discernment early in their college careers will support their successful journeys to graduation and employment in the 21st-century workforce.

Key program components include the application of StrengthsFinder assessment tools, which help individuals identify their strengths and begin applying them to tasks and decision-making; the adoption of positive psychology components and appreciative advising to build self-concept and self-confidence; the establishment of learning communities; activities to increase learning engagement; and the implementation of other high-impact practices. Enhancements will be made to first-year and junior Student Success courses in Rivier’s core curriculum Journeys of Transformation to incorporate these components.

The grant supports a heavy focus on training for faculty and staff throughout the project with the expectation of replicating training for new faculty and staff each year. Rivier faculty will construct and conduct a longitudinal study to assess the long-term impact of its strengths-based interventions measuring well-being, student retention, and post-graduate success. The University plans to share program innovations with the greater academic community to promote replication of potential successes at other small private institutions.

Note: The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarket, Inc.