New university committee to close student success gap

A new campus-wide committee has been formed in order to improve and assess student success, according to its chairman and CSU Provost Rick Miranda.

The 12-member group has been formed as a response to President Tony Frank’s challenge in his Fall Address to increase its first-year retention rate to 90 percent and graduation rate to 80 percent. Currently, those rates are in the mid ‘80s and ‘60s range, respectively.

“We will be especially focused on influencing student learning,” Miranda said. “And we know that upgrading that is paramount to improving educational attainment.”

As for specific plans for the new committee’s meetings, Miranda said the first order of business is to assess the current position of the university with regards to student success. The next step, he said, will be brainstorming ideas.

“After we have assessed all possible plans and strategies we will try to select three to give initiatives and prioritize them so that we can try them and just see how they go,” Miranda said.

As for specific goals the committee already has in place, Thayer said the main goals are to decrease current gaps that may exist in student success.

“A big part of this is to eliminate gaps in student success and also to shorten the average time it takes a student to graduate,” said Paul Thayer, associate vice president for student affairs. “The biggest part of decreasing that, of course, comes with higher first year retention rates.”

In the end, however, Miranda said that it is not so much the numbers that matter, as the individual results.

“Every student is important to us,” Miranda said. “We try not to think so much in numbers as we do in impacting lives — that means a lot to us.”

A similar effort was launched in 2005. About seven years ago the a campus-wide committee came up with several initiatives that CSU could focus on and then made a set of recommendations to campus officials. The university has since then been “chipping away” at those recommendations.

Miranda stressed that

“ … It’s a committee of a new era with new issues to address. We are trying to prioritize certain initiatives in order to increase graduation and retention rates.”

The biggest accomplishment of that last committee, according to Miranda, was the introduction of academic support coordinators to every college, a task that is not quite complete yet.

“All eight colleges currently have these academic support coordinators, but not all 54 departments,” Miranda said. “We are still committed to accomplishing that, as well as adding new initiatives to start on.”

Other accomplishments by the last committee include creating the TiLT Program, a longer orientation and transition program for first year students, redesigning more than 90 courses to reflect student feedback, and increasing efforts to encourage students to consider higher education, according to Thayer.

“We have realized that there is no one single thing that will make a difference,” Thayer said. “It will be a whole range of things … there is no endpoint to this committee.”

ASCSU Beat Reporter Carrie Mobley can be reached at news@collegian.com.