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K-State Today

March 2, 2020

Student success initiatives update

Submitted by Jeannie Brown Leonard

As the new vice provost for student success, I am learning the student success landscape on campus and working to create alignment and synergy. My goal is to connect efforts championed by academic units and student service operations, improve communication, and gather and use data to inform our practices. I am excited to join the campus at a time of impressive momentum. K-State has already started to see improved graduation rates. I encourage you to read more about the Strategic Enrollment Plan update published in K-State Today on Feb. 27.

The good news is that there are many innovative programs and practices in place; the bad news is that these well-intentioned practices sometimes compete with one another, are isolated, or serve a small slice of our student body. In a resource-constrained environment, we need to do better. In collaboration with faculty, staff, and students, I will create and steward a vision for coordinated undergraduate and graduate student success at Kansas State University. This vision is evolving.

Undergraduate student experience data tell a story that varies by college. I respect distinctive college cultures, but also see merit in a united K-State approach to challenging and supporting our students. An early priority for me is working with the academic advising community to frame a set of shared expectations for academic advisors and the advising experience. This work includes learning about the systemic barriers to degree completion from academic advisors that we can begin to address. I am committed to leveraging resources, such as the Student Success Collaborative, or SSC — Navigate platform, to improve academic advisor workflow, promote consistent and trackable outreach to students, and connect student services. Most importantly, the coordinated care possible with tools like Navigate will improve the consistency and elevate the quality of the college experience for our students.

In all of my campus conversations to date, there is a shared commitment to student success. Technology will help us be more efficient, holistic, intentional and accountable in this work, but technology does not/cannot improve student success on its own. Strategically, K-State has invested in SSC-Navigate and a broader set of tools called Smart Guidance, extending our contract for five years. A project team is revisiting original decisions about data feeds and configurations to make SSC-Navigate work for more people, and addressing data integrity and reliability issues. We refreshed the predictive analysis visible in the platform. We are now predicting persistence rather than graduation and are shifting the language of "risk level" to a more affirming "support level" within the SSC-Navigate platform.

Later this spring we will begin implementation steps for the degree planning tool and mobile application. These student-facing resources will round out the suite of tools that will support our student success work and streamline how students access resources for challenge and support. Over time, we also will phase in early alert tools, progress reports and student support services referrals.

Our goal with this relaunch of SSC-Navigate is to take a systematic approach to professional development opportunities that will prepare the K-State advising community to incorporate these tools in their holistic approach to student support. This work will help us strategically align the university's investment in technological tools with our shared expectations of the advising experience. Later this spring there will be opportunities to learn more and shape how we deploy these technology tools on our campus.

Thank you for the warm welcome to K-State. My contact information is located on the Student Success website. I welcome your good ideas and questions. Let's get to work!

Best wishes,

Jeannie Brown Leonard
Vice provost for student success