by Renata Opoczynski, Assistant Dean for Student Success Assessment and Strategic Initiatives

Over the last few months, I have been talking a lot about the Student Success Ecosystem and the need to connect all the disparate work happening around student success on campus. Today, I wanted to take the time to update on how we have progressed in this work. 

We have launched the Student Success Leadership Group and they have had their first meeting. This group of senior leaders on campus is beginning to spend time thinking about the overarching direction the university should move in regard to large student success themes and will continue to meet each month. We have launched the Student Success Project Group, which includes the leads of all the large strategic student success projects on campus (see more below), and they will be working to connect the projects looking for synergy and collaboration.  They will meet every two weeks to strive to keep the projects moving forward in an efficient manner and engage in regular communication with executive sponsors.  The Campus Student Success Group has continued to meet regularly and shifted towards the central communication and decision space for collaborative campus wide student success conversations.

We are working to launch our APUE Student Advisory Group.  This group will not start till this summer, but we will be recruiting members soon.  This diverse and representative group will provide feedback to the APUE on the needs of the student body, ideas/policies that are being explored, and any just in time feedback that may be needed. The advisory group engages more students into the decision making space with the APUE (in expansion of the meetings already happening with ASMSU, CORES and COPS, etc.). We will be sending an email to students in April and we would appreciate you encouraging students you know to apply. We in particular are looking to get a representative group of students from all aspects of campus life and with diverse lived experiences.

Beyond the groups, the other aspects of the student success ecosystem we have been working to launch is to get the strategic student success projects coordinated. We have seven projects we are focused on this year, some are continuation from past years and others are new.  A brief description of each is included below:


Supporting Equity in Essential Needs (SEEN): This group does research and designs projects on students’ essential needs experiences to identify how MSU can better support equitable access to essential needs resources. Their work is conducted through a trauma informed approach and draws from service design principles.

Project Leads: Ben Lauren and Kim Steed-Page


Cohesive Two Year Experience Project: This project focuses on creating a coherent, compelling, and supportive two year curricular and co-curricular experience for first and second year students. With a focus on outcomes, this group will identify current programs in the first two years, explore how students are experiencing these programs and work to fill holes and create cohesion across the two year experience for students.

Project Lead: Sarah Gretter


Student Financial Aid and Academic Success Project: This task force has been assembled to assess the impact of all financial and gift aid (federal, state, and scholarship) on academic success. The group will analyzing our current financial aid landscape, explore how students make decisions on attendance from a financial standpoint, understand how external and internal factors may impact supply and demand, and recommend ways to redistribute some of the institutional gift aid to have a positive academic impact on our student population.

Project Leads: Glenn Chambers, Dave Weatherspoon, and Keith Williams


Faculty Student Success Advisor Group: The purpose of this group is to engage more instructors in student success. This group of educators is taking a strategic and transactional approach of 'doing' to meet goals that include gaining a greater understanding of how instructors think about student success and their relationship to it, providing engagement and feedback in the creation of MSU's student success strategy and infrastructure, gathering instructor feedback on solving student success challenges, and partnering with our colleagues in the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology to explore needs around educator development.

Project Leads: Mary Beth Heeder and Jeno Rivera


(Re) Orientation Fall 2021 Project: The purpose of this group is to anticipate, prepare for, and address the various needs of ALL undergraduate students as they return to campus after being in a remote learning environment for 1 ½ years. Workgroups will focus on First Year Students, Rising Second Year Students, and Upper Division Students. They will identify needs, and strategies across five focus areas: Academics, Sense of Belonging, Wellness, Community, and Sense of Purpose. This work will be collaborative with multiple opportunities for feedback from across the campus community.

Project Leads: Sarah Gretter, Amy Martin, Renata Opoczynski, and Genyne Royal


Student Communication Project: This project will be addressing the sheer volume of communications, most of which are email, that students receive. The goals of this project are to 1) more efficiently manage method, delivery, timing of messages to students (reduce volume, streamline, coordinate) and 2) increase perceived relevance/satisfaction with communications received (more meaningful, engaging and visually appealing). Our short term plan is to reduce email volume by 30% with some initial changes occurring by Fall 2021. The long term outcome of this project will be a digital experience that gives students more control over the content and frequency of MSU communications.

Project Leads: Amy Martin and Bret Miller


Black Student Success Initiative: This UIA sponsored project will focus on increasing Black student success in three focus areas: 1) the retention and promotion of Black faculty; 2) improving campus climate; and 3) improving the persistence and graduation rates for Black students.  This project is still in the design phase and will officially begin in Fall 2021.

Project Leads: Chastity Gaither and Renata Opoczynski


As always, any questions or feedback can be directed to Renata at