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November 5, 2019

SVSU selected to national academy focused on advancing student success

Noller, ChristineSaginaw Valley State University is home to hard-working students who often overcome challenges in pursuit of their degrees. The university has placed additional emphasis on degree completion by participating in an exclusive program offered by one of the nation’s leading higher education accreditors.

SVSU was selected as one of eight institutions nationally to participate in the Higher Learning Commissions Student Success Academy, a 3-year initiative that will connect university staff and faculty with industry experts and resources aimed at impacting student success.

“Everyone on our campus has a role in student success; it’s at the core of everything we do at SVSU,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Participation in the Student Success Academy is a way to systematically assess our initiatives and to enhance the services and supports that we provide to our students from their first engagement with the university through their post-graduation success. This benefits our students, it benefits our university, and it benefits all the communities SVSU serves.”

The Student Success Academy will pair SVSU representatives with higher education scholars. Together, they will examine the university’s existing programs affecting student success and later identify opportunities to implement additional initiatives to impact outcomes. The data-based analysis will involve examining the student population, how SVSU policies and practices impact student outcomes, and what kind of actions may generate more success.

The 3-year program kicked off when SVSU representatives and their Student Success Academy peer institutions met in October for a roundtable conference in St. Charles, Illinois, just outside Chicago. The gathering included Higher Learning Commission staff and members — including renowned experts in higher education-related issues — providing an overview of the academy objectives.

The conference introduced attendees to the year-by-year goals of the academy. The first-year goal involves reviewing SVSU student data and identifying gaps that exist in the student success initiatives at the university. The second-year goal includes identifying opportunities for closing those gaps. The goal for the final year involves designing an action plan to eliminate those gaps.

The conference also provided national data points — relating to topics such as rates of student retention and course completion — aimed at helping academy members measure their respective universities against peer institutions.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits SVSU. The university most recently received a 10-year reaccreditation from the agency in June 2014.

A committee of SVSU faculty and staff members participated in the academy. That roster includes the following:

  • Jenna Briggs, senior director of Advanced Studies and International Student Services
  • Sidney Childs, associate provost for Student Affairs and dean of students
  • Rachel Florence-Spaetzel, director of orientation programs
  • Dawn Hinton, professor of sociology
  • Poonam Kumar, director of the Center for Academic Innovation and Online Learning
  • Josh Ode, associate provost
  • Erik Trump, professor of political science
  • Nick Wagner, executive director of institutional effectiveness