Student Success Initiative-2

When Colorado State University President Tony Frank announced in his 2011 Fall Address that the campus should raise its six-year graduation rate to 80 percent, there was a collective gulp among the cadre of CSU leaders who had worked so hard to get that figure up closer to 70 percent.

Especially since the average for institutions like CSU is estimated at about 62 percent.

“We had no idea,” laughs Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes. “I remember looking at my colleagues, and we all had this look of terror. ‘Is he serious?’ We really had to up our game.”

“One of the great privileges of being president of an institution like this is that you can get up on any podium and say something and everybody thinks they have to do it,” Frank says with a smile. “After the address, some of the people who had been working so hard for the past five years stopped by my office and said, ‘So this 80 percent – any ideas on what we do next?’

“I knew we had been making great progress toward our original goals, and that 80 percent was a huge stretch goal,” he continues. “But I’d rather set a big stretch goal, and miss it by a bit but still make incredible progress in striving toward it, than set smaller incremental goals and perhaps still not attain our larger institutional goals.”

As a result, Paul Thayer again coordinated a core team to create a revised plan. The group developed recommendations presented in a report titled, “Access to Excellence: Eliminating Graduation Gaps at Colorado State University” which outlines a multi-pronged effort to creating equitable educational environments inside and outside of the classroom, resulting in increased graduation rates and the complete elimination of opportunity gaps for first generation students, students of color, and students from limited-income backgrounds. 

In 2017, Ryan Barone was hired as the Assistant Vice President for Student Success to carry on the the work of SSI-2.  Together with Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Kelly Long, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs, Ryan is tasked with working across the university to create equitable educational environments inside and outside of the classroom resulting in increased graduation rates and eliminating opportunity gaps.  Click below to read more about the current initiatives.

SSI-2 Activities

Intention: Develop in-class and out-of-class strategies that promote students’ early success, with five areas of focus:

  • Build and Encourage Relationships
  • Set Expectations/Motivate Students
  • Promote Active, Engaged Learning
  • Integrate Student Support into Learning Experiences
  • Ensure that Students Know Where They Stand

Strategies Implemented:

  • Faculty training on First Four Weeks teaching strategies, hybrid and in person, in partnership with TILT and including the promotion of Early Performance Feedback participation
  • Further engagement through follow-up in-service meetings
  • Start Strong messaging to students through Ram Orientation, Ram Welcome, Bridge, and Access programs
  • U-Turn and individualized follow-up strategies for students
  • Academic Coaching

Key Campus Partners:

Intention: Improve student engagement and Momentum Year success in first year Mathematics and Writing Composition Courses

Math Strategies:

  • Design website to integrate growth mindset language
  • Integrate math placement into Ram Ready website
  • Pilot face-to-face Math 117 1-credit course for students in the College of Natural Sciences in Fall 2019 to focus on success in PACe
  • Review PACe curriculum and sequencings
  • Critically reflect on the physical and online environments to better send messages of belongingness
  • Update physical PACe center
  • Expand delivery of Math 101 and Math 107
  • Restructure the Math Placement Tool (MPT) and evolve PACe center

Writing Composition Strategies:

  • Pilot Supplemental Instruction in English/Composition, including CO 151 (4 credits)
  • Implement Writing Center Learning Assistants
  • Pair CO 130/150 courses with IU-172 seminars as part of First Year Academic Experience cohort initiative

Key Campus Partners:

Intention: Increase success rates and decrease opportunity gaps of first generation, limited-income, and historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups

Academic Advancement Center Strategies:

  • Create capacity to serve an additional 100 first generation, limited-income, and/or undocumented students
  • Implement TRiO Student Support Services STEM grant
  • Investigate additional grants including McNair and CAMP

Community for Excellence (C4E) Strategies:

  • Increase C4E by 150 students over three years
  • Increase partner engagement
  • Serve students through graduation, mirroring the Academic Advancement Center model

Key Communities Strategies:

  • Increase Key Communities participation by 150 by Fall 2020
  • Increase Key Plus participants by 60 students by Fall 2020

Key Campus Partners:

Intention: Involve selected departments in devising strategies that promote major identity and inclusion, with a focus on underrepresented students and a specific focus on racially minoritized students

Strategies Implemented:

  • Integrate Catalyst (hiring upper-division students as Learning Assistants and Undergraduate Research Assistants) into the Learning Assistant model and align with second-year Learning Communities, as appropriate
  • Request for Proposal process for colleges to identify opportunities for reducing gaps
  • Bridge college work with departments and programs that develop relationships for students during their first few years (Key Communities, C4E, cultural centers, etc.)
  • Connect transfer students’ (coming in as rising juniors) experiences with their pre-transfer experiences
  • Explore college-based sense of belonging for students of color

Key Campus Partners:

Intention: Better equip faculty and staff with awareness, strategies, and tools that make the greatest difference in learning- and support-focused interactions

Strategies Implemented: 

  • Intergroup Relations training for faculty through the Equity Educator in TILT
  • Inclusive Pedagogy training through the Equity Educator in TILT
  • Race, Bias, and Equity Initiative
  • CDHE Equity Toolkit for Inclusive Teaching and Learning
  • TILT Teaching Effectiveness Framework
  • Leverage student success data from regular “pulse” surveys and create connected professional development sessions for faculty and staff responding to the data
  • Inclusion and Social Justice training offered through the Vice President for Diversity
  • Implement Tiered Model for Academic Success Coordinators

Key Campus Partners:

Intention: Provide an excellent educational opportunity to all admitted students, based in educational equity and CSU’s Principles of Community

Strategies Implemented:

  • Incorporate state-mandated Student Learning Outcomes and Content Criteria in all areas of the AUCC
  • Infuse diversity outcomes into AUCC 3 B, C, and D
  • Build High Impact Experiences into the Core Curriculum
  • Create a new category of AUCC 1C to address student demands for diversity education
  • Pilot this diversity and dialogue course first-year students
  • Engage a Faculty Think Tank representing all eight colleges to explore thematic organization of the Core Curriculum
  • Reorganize the AUCC to emphasize common themes
  • Focus on “exploring” students by enrolling them in these guided pathways
  • Create First-Year Seminars that align with the thematic organization hubs
  • Use Complete College America Game-Changers and CSU Adapted Momentum Years strategies to support student success

Key Partners:

Intention: Recalibrate funding streams to address the growing expense of a college education

Strategies Implemented:

  • Explore strategic deployment of need-based aid
  • Expand paid student employment/internships as high impact experiences

Key Campus Partners: