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oration of many nationally renowned programs. Assessment forces us to revisit all of
the building blocks of the Best Practices Model so that we continually renew our relationships
with constituents across campus to ensure that we are serving our students
and reminding the campus that LCs are essential for the sustainability of successful
undergraduate programs.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Designing and implementing an LLC program is a continual process that takes time
and includes difficult, cross-divisional decisions, each of which should be made to benefit
the student experience. The Best Practices Model may be viewed by some as impossible
to achieve due to the number of building blocks, the reliance of each building
block on the others, and the various stakeholders needed to offer a comprehensive
LLC. However, the authors here would encourage readers to view the model as not only
aspirational but also inspirational in nature, with the understanding that it takes time
and leadership to offer all the pieces outlined in this model in an effective manner.
The integration of these building blocks, as stressed by Inkelas and colleagues
(2018), has had a direct impact on retention and persistence at Cabrini University. In
collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, learning community administrators
track retention and persistence data annually. Over the past 12 years, fall-to-fall
retention of students engaged in an LLC is, on average, 9.5% higher than it is for their
non-LLC peers. In addition, 4-year graduation rates for LLC students are 5-8% higher
than they are for non-LLC peers, while 5-year graduation rates for LLC students are
more than 10% higher than they are for non-LLC students. Such success, in regard to
retention and persistence, is a direct result of the comprehensive and holistic nature of
the LLC experience offered to incoming students, which rests on the intense collaboration
that exists between student life, academic affairs, and full-time faculty.
The Best Practices Model should be used not only as a blueprint for building a successful
LLC program, but also as a continual guide for strengthening already established
programs. Just as Cabrini University used the model as a means for self-reflection and
assessment of their program's strengths and weaknesses, other LLC programs should
use it as a means for programmatic review. This framework can be implemented into
an LLC faculty/staff retreat or professional development opportunity designed to gain
perspective on where the program needs to be reinforced. By applying the theoretical
BPM to practice, LLC programs will find a source of mortar-a means of assessment-
as campuses reflect on opportunities for growth within their LC program.
For an LLC program to be truly successful, it is essential that a program have a
director or administrator who champions this campus initiative, seeking to embed it
into the fabric of the institution. It is this leader who brings to the table the key players
from all divisions of the institution who can help establish clear and consistent
messaging to both students and campus constituents. It is this leader who advocates
the return on investment to the presidential leadership team and who puts succession
plans in place for when faculty retire, go on sabbatical, take a health leave, or decide
that their LLC contributions have become exhausted.
Volume 48, No. 2 * 2022 49

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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