News & Media

Executive Director’s Note

Hi everyone, I’m turning over the microphone to the Powered by Publics team while out on maternity leave. This month’s Executive Director’s note is authored by Lynn Brabender. Enjoy! – Julia Michaels, Executive Director and Associate Vice President, Center for Public University Transformation.

By Lynn Brabender

Lynn Brabender is an associate director in APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation

Welcome to 2022! If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage you to sign up for the Learning Exchange, our new online platform for sharing ideas and knowledge originating in and related to your institutions’ and your clusters’ work in the Powered by Publics initiative. Have a burning student success question that another Powered by Publics member might be able to answer? Want to share a pioneering program others might be interested in learning about? Want to connect with colleagues in other clusters? The Learning Exchange is the place to do it.

Last year, APLU invited Powered by Publics institutions to participate in the Intermediaries for Scale (IFS) cohort learning experience, an investment program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sixteen universities from eight different clusters were selected to collectively transform policies and practices on their campuses to increase equitable student success. Over the course of the project, the IFS institutions participated in an in-depth assessment of their institutions’ student success needs, met monthly as a peer learning community, shared data through the Postsecondary Data Partnership, and are on track to receive technical assistance in advising, digital learning and/or developmental education to support their institution’s transformation efforts.

We are excited to share with you what we are learning so far! All IFS cohort institutions completed the Institutional Transformation Assessment (ITA) – a survey tool designed to capture the perceptions of student success leaders on how well the institution is performing in areas including digital learning, developmental education, leadership and culture, institutional research, information technology, and institutional policy.

Once the survey data is collected and compiled, the leadership teams who completed the survey participate in a facilitated sense-making meeting to review and discuss the data and identify areas for improvement that align with their institutions’ student success strategic priorities.

Creating a forum for institutional leaders across campus to discuss challenges and perceptions related to key institutional capacities to support student success proved to be very valuable. Institutions appreciated the opportunity to reach a common understanding of their institution’s challenges and to collaboratively identify what actions need to be taken to improve.

APLU synthesized the ITA assessment data across the IFS cohort to identify common priority areas for improving institutional capacity to increase student success. These include:

  • Establishing shared ownership and shared definitions of student success
  • Developing a cross-campus integrated approach to supporting students
  • Clarifying roles and responsibilities related to student success, particularly faculty and advisor roles
  • Establishing more mechanisms for cross-campus communication
  • Coordinating technology systems
  • Improving data governance, data sharing and data literacy
  • Supporting faculty development and seeking faculty voice
  • Meaningfully capturing and acting upon student voice

The assessment also revealed the following common priorities in the areas of advising, digital learning and developmental education/academic readiness:

  • Advising: creating consistent policies, practices, and roles for centralized, decentralized and hybrid models
  • Digital learning: Creating a master plan for coordinating the use of digital learning tools and strategies
  • Developmental Education/Academic Readiness: revising placement policies and practices, gateway math course success, embedded student supports

We know that the needs identified by the IFS institutions are common across our Powered by Publics community. We are excited about what we have learned from this assessment and eager to identify ways to support other institutions in engaging in similar efforts to refine their student success priorities.

As we move into 2022, we will be using what we learned from the needs assessment phase of the IFS project to connect IFS institutions to technical assistance from content experts in advising, digital learning and developmental education. We look forward to supporting these institutions in their transformation journey and to leverage this experience to support all PxP institutions in identifying needs and driving institutional change. For more information on the project, please feel free to reach out to me.

The institutions participating in the effort are: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Clemson University; Illinois State University; Ohio University; Middle Tennessee State University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; University of New Orleans; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Rutgers University-Newark; University of South Alabama; Texas Tech University; Tuskegee University; Virginia Commonwealth University; Western Michigan University; University of Wyoming.

Keep reading for other newsletter highlights, including:

  • A February 22 APLU Black History Month Webinar exploring how HBCUs advance STEM talent.
  • A post examining how Powered by Publics institutions are exploring the connection between transfer students’ credit loss and their degree completion
  • A resource for charting an equity-focused continuous improvement journey.
  • An op-ed from Center for Public University Transformation Executive Director Julia Michaels on tackling inequity in higher education head-on.
  • Powered by Publics

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