August 28, 2015
Letter from the vice provost for undergraduate studies
The 2014-15 quarterly updates from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies are archived here. In this first such update for 2015-16, I highlight progress in the areas of advising, first-year experience, first-generation student success, and strategic enrollment management.
The University Advising Committee, or UAC, will continue this year to strengthen advising at K-State, whether that means pre-health or pre-law advising, career advising, coaching, advising students who are exploring majors and minors, students seeking to integrate undergraduate research and study abroad into their long-range curricular planning, transfer students, military-affiliated students, honors students, and so on and so forth. The K-State advising community is a backbone of student success!
In partnership with the National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA, the University Advising Committee will continue to sponsor Winter and Summer Advising Institutes, as well as professional development grants funded by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Student Life to support travel to conferences. We look forward especially to the continuing roll-out of the EAB Student Success Collaborative (and thank the K-State SSC for its leadership in this process), and we look forward also to NACADA's Region 7 annual meeting next February right here in Manhattan.
At NACADA's invitation, John N. Gardner, Betsy Barefoot and Drew Koch of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education visited K-State this past summer, with Gardner and K-State's own Charlie Nutt kindly offering an informal discussion on advising and student success for an audience of invited guests. One outcome we learned was K-State's plans to further strengthen advising are aligned with national trends and best-practices, and are very much aided by K-State's fruitful affiliation with NACADA. Many thanks to Charlie and John for their insights.
Many people (correctly) associate John Gardner with first-year experience programs. Generically, such programs tend to include low-enrollment seminars, signature gateway course programs, residential and nonresidential learning communities, common read programs and specialized student success advising, coaching, mentoring, supplemental instruction, and tutoring programs. Since as many as one-half of students who do not persist to graduation discontinue during or at the end of their first year of study, it makes sense to focus student success energies in this area.
At K-State, beginning this summer, new conversations emerged regarding how we can best coordinate our de jure and de facto first-year experience programs. The goal is to create greater coordination and coherence. We also hope to achieve comprehensiveness, such that all students who are new to K-State benefit from an appropriate, intentional, academically-focused intervention designed to support their in-depth learning and, ultimately, successful pursuit of an empowering undergraduate degree.
That Holtz Hall has been designated as the future home of a universitywide tutoring center is a great step in the right direction!
First-Generation Student Success
The First Scholars Program, led by Kiley Moody, formally welcomed and celebrated its second class of scholars on Aug. 27. We are proud of our First Scholars, and we look to them to provide universitywide leadership on behalf of our efforts to welcome and support our many thousands of first-generation undergraduate students.
The Teaching & Learning Center, directed by Jana Fallin, has received funding from the Suder Foundation to support a program this fall focused on teaching first-generation students. Also, the Strengths Residential CAT Community — which serves first-generation students — and the Academic & Career Information Center — which is the home for strengths-based education at K-State — have received gifts from the Suder Foundation to promote strengths-based co-curricular education for first-generation students. Eric and Deb Suder are expected to visit campus again this fall, in part, to meet with faculty and staff who are doing so much to benefit K-State's superb first-generation students.
Strategic Enrollment Management
Much of the August 2015 University Leadership Retreat focused on discussion of strategic enrollment management, or SEM. That's important for student success efforts for the reason that, as a very general rule of thumb, half of the challenge of reaching targeted graduation goals is addressed via strategic enrollment management, while the other half, as it were, is the joint responsibility of academic programs and student life units. Dr. Bosco and I called for further attention to strategic enrollment management in our Theme II Implementation Plan PDF, and together, we look forward to exploring how an increasingly intentional, data-driven, and goal-oriented approach to enrollment management can facilitate K-State 2025 goals.
Very best wishes to all for a terrific fall semester.
Steven P. Dandaneau, vice provost for undergraduate studies