administration building

Last fall we convened faculty, staff, and administrators for the Student Learning and Success Launch at the Kellogg Center.

Last fall we convened faculty, staff, and administrators for the Student Learning and Success Launch at the Kellogg Center. It was an opportunity for us to introduce a new pattern of student success work that would begin each fall with the Launch and would conclude at the end of the academic year with the Spring Conference for Student Learning and Success. Our goal was to create a rhythm of work that began the academic year with goal-setting, proceed with college- and university-level student learning and success work, and end with an opportunity to report and reflect on the work that was undertaken and accomplished. Then, a few months later the process would begin again.

Last fall’s Launch was laden with emotions. We had just begun the first full academic year after hearing the words and stories of the survivors, and the organizers of the Launch had very intentionally focused our attention on the institution’s responsibilities to its students in general. Senior administrators had been invited to speak about inspirational stories of students’ successes, which elicited appreciation for the difficult paths that some of our students must traverse toward graduation. Provost Youatt took a different approach; she bluntly and directly addressed the roadblocks and hurdles themselves. If, as we claim, every student admitted to MSU has the capacity to graduate and if we are indeed committed to closing opportunity gaps and raising the tide of student success on campus, we are obligated to ameliorate the barriers that the MSU harbors. She concluded, “This is our platform. This is our time. This is our chance.”


Many of our colleagues have responded to the Provost’s call, and they have begun or have continued work that will help realize our commitment to helping every student who matriculates into MSU learn, thrive, and graduate. From the ongoing efforts to reform classes and curricula to the rebirth of MSU’s orientation program and the decision to make a major investment in the modernization of MSU’s student information system, student learning and success has taken its proper place as the campus bellwether.

Next month we will conclude this year’s student success cycle when, in the days that follow graduation, we meet at the 2019 Spring Conference on Student Learning and Success. More than 75 presentations and three keynotes (plus, free ice cream!) will be spread over three days. The conference will provide a valuable opportunity for you to learn about your colleagues’ great work and for us all to reflect on the progress we have made. It will also allow us to continue to develop solutions to the many challenges and opportunities we have to help make MSU better able to serve its student. This is our chance to reshape MSU. I hope to see you there.

Feedback and suggestions, especially from the MSU community, welcome: email

Mark Largent is the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University.