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Sept. 29, 2023

Launching into our commitment to student success this academic year

by Renata Opoczynski, assistant dean for Student Success Assessment and Strategic Initiatives

Portrait photo of Renata OpoczynskiEarlier this month, 300 colleagues gathered together for the Student Success Launch. This year’s theme was “MSU Rising: Commitment, Community, Collaboration.” The planning team's goal was to articulate MSU’s renewed commitment to student success and rising above all we have been through over the last few years to elevate our student success work to new levels.

By being in community together around topics of interest, we identified opportunities for collaboration, and asked attendees to make a commitment to moving our shared work forward. The Launch began with comments from Interim Provost Jeitschko and SLE Senior Vice President Gore who both reiterated their long-standing commitment to Student Success work at MSU, with Vice Provost Largent outlining the theme and goals for the day.

One of my favorite aspects of this year’s Launch was our panel of student success colleagues. While we continue to make strides in understanding the wonderful diversity in our student body, we also recognize there are still students on our campus who are often overlooked in our conversations about the diversity of student needs. To highlight some of these students and raise awareness of their specific needs, we invited five amazing colleagues to serve on a panel. Elias Lopez spoke about students from migrant backgrounds and the College Assistance Migrant Program Scholars Initiative (MSU CAMP), Patrick Forystek spoke about students who are Veterans and the Student Veteran Resource Center, Charles Jackson III spoke about transfer students and the Transfer Student Success Center, Chiquita Whittington spoke about students who are foster youth alumni and the Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME) program, and Kim Steed-Page spoke about students who are caregivers and the Student Parent Resource Center. All of these programs and initiatives provide tremendous support and resources for our students. If you are not familiar with the work taking place and the opportunities they provide, I encourage you to check them out.

For this year’s Launch, the planning team also wanted to return to the Student Success Launch being a space where everyone can have a voice in the institutional student success work that is happening for the year. As such, we invited Amy Martin to speak on her work planning the Spartan Experience Project. Attendees were asked to provide feedback on draft definitions for the five areas of student success that have been used in various campus units since the Re-Orientation project a few years ago. These areas and the definitions created will be the basis for defining the Spartan Experience for all students at MSU and will center the student success work of the future. We are committed to this being an inclusive process with engagement from colleagues across campus and appreciate all the great feedback that came from the participants at the Student Success Launch.

We were also fortunate to have a great session by Justin St. Charles, Kari Stone-Sewalish, and Josh Durbin on the new Care and Intervention Team and what we can all do to create caring communities on campus. This shift in how we respond to students in distress demonstrates our commitment to student success and understanding how to meet students with care even in their most difficult times. 

Thank you again to the planning team for all their work putting together a fantastic event. I’m confident all who participated got as much out of it as I did, and I look forward to reflecting back on all we will accomplish this academic year next spring at the Student Success Summit.