GRAMBLING, La. — A trio of Grambling State University faculty members are preparing to make a presentation at the 2024 Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) National Conference next month.

Dr. Ellen Smiley

Dr. Ellen D. Smiley, Dean of GSU’s Earl Lester Cole Honors College and Professor of Education; Dr. Rory L. Bedford, Director of Continuing Education and Service-Learning, who also teaches psychology in the Master of Social Science program; and Prentiss Smiley, adjunct faculty in the sociology and psychology department of Grambling State University will make a presentation titled Honors Colleges and Service-Learning: Keys to Student Success.


Ruffalo Noel Levitz’s mission is to make colleges, universities, and nonprofits successful and vibrant through inspired and relevant engagement.


The hour-long session presented by the three Grambling State faculty members will focus on how developing an Honors College based on a theoretical foundation with a service-learning component promotes retention, persistence, graduation and student success.


Prentiss Smiley

Prentiss Smiley, prior to teaching at the University, was a member of the Earl Lester Cole Honors College and president of the Honors College student organization. He will discuss how his forward thinking rooted in theory was used to develop a plan that transformed the enrollment of the Honors College and promotes student success.


Dr. Ellen Smiley will discuss the implementation of the plan and its success while Rory Bedford will expound on how service-learning played an important role in providing a framework toward promoting scholarship, leadership, and comradeship among the students.


She said the presentation will be a “grand opportunity” for Grambling State University to highlight the success of GSU’s Honors College at the national level and provide a model for others to follow.


Dr. Rory Bedford

“The University has a number of great academic programs and activities,” Dr. Ellen Smiley said. “We are happy, however, that the Earl Lester Cole Honors College and the Office of Continuing Education and Service-Learning were granted the privilege of showcasing our methods and work.


“It is truly an honor for us (the presenters) and Grambling State University. Both programs (Honors College and Continuing Education and Service-Learning) are funded in part by Title III funds. The presentation is also a testament to the value that these funds bring to the university.


RNL operates from offices throughout the United States and abroad. The firm is owned by Summit Partners, Quad Partners, and its management team, and is directed by an eight-member board of directors.


The conference, which will be hosted in Dallas from July 23-25 provides an opportunity to interact with nationally renowned experts and more than 1,500 attendees.