PR1ZE stands for "Putting Retention 1st in the Zest for Excellence." The PR1ZE Mentoring Program is a faculty and administration support program for historically underrepresented minority students, particularly focusing on African American students. The program began in the College of Arts and Sciences with financial support from the former Dean Valerie Hardcastle. Since its inception in 2008, students in other colleges have requested mentoring to help reach their graduation goal. With funding from the Diversity Grant in 2010, the program expanded to include students university-wide.

Research suggests that average but solid academic students (GPA < 2.8) and also marginal academic students (GPA < 2.4) may significantly benefit educationally from more personal contact and engagement with faculty and staff. Research also indicates that some minority students feel less connected and are less competitive for typical merit based academic mentoring and engagement (e.g. research assistantships, teaching assistantships) than their higher GPA and better academically prepared counterparts. Finally, some research suggests that these students are more likely to fall through the cracks and drop out of college for various reasons including academics.

The PR1ZE Mentoring Program is specifically geared to give students additional tools to increase their chances of matriculating successfully through the academic rigor of college life and graduation. Through PR1ZE, students are linked with a faculty or professional staff mentor in their chosen major or field of interest who periodically contacts and connects with them for academic, social, and/or personal support, advice and assistance. All faculty, professional staff, and student interactions are voluntary. The program annually recognizes notable PR1ZE mentors along with PR1ZE students who demonstrate significant academic improvement.

PR1ZE Luncheons

The PR1ZE Luncheons were instituted to recognize and award faculty, professional staff and students who are working together to support student retention and academic success through the PR1ZE mentoring program View previous PR1ZE Luncheon slideshows.

For Faculty and Professional Staff: If you are interested in being a PR1ZE mentor, please Mrs. Carol Tonge Mack, Assistant Dean, A&S Undergraduate Affairs,, 556-6541. You may also review the PR1ZE Mentor Handbook which gives you more information about the program and the mentoring process.

For more information, CONTACT: Ms. Carol Tonge Mack, Assistant Dean of Recruitment and Retention Initiatives, A&S Undergraduate Affairs,, 556-6541.

PR1ZE in the News