The members of this interdisciplinary group were recommended by University leaders and selected for their exemplary scholarship, research and passion for teaching and student success.

While institutions of higher education are positioned to take advantage of student-instructor contact to impact student success, many (MSU included) do not maximize this opportunity. Understanding that instructors play a significant role in student learning and success, as we create a dynamic, inclusive student success ecosystem, we are focusing on how we might invite more instructors to help us support student success through the newly formed Faculty Improving Student Success Advisory Group.

The challenges imposed on our community by the pandemic and other troubling social issues drew our attention to the classroom, which was the primary space where most students experienced college this past year. Data from an MSU Fall 2020 Student Experience Survey confirmed what has been rigorously tested – instructors play a critical role in student’s success. More than 65% of the student survey respondents said that instructors who are organized, available, and accommodating are extremely important to their success.

The purpose of the Faculty Improving Student Success Advisory Group is to engage more instructors, who teach in the classroom, in student success so that MSU can realize its vision of student success – each admitted student is able to learn, thrive, and graduate. This project is sponsored by Mark Largent, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Jeff Grabill, Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. Primary aims include taking a strategic and transactional approach of ‘doing’ to develop possible pedagogies and practices that result from interdisciplinary collaboration and empirical research. This group is committed to aligning its work with the DEI and MSU strategic plans.

Goals of this project 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
  • Gathering instructor feedback on solving complex student success challenges
  • Learning what the most helpful educator professional development might look like

The members of this interdisciplinary group were recommended by University leaders and selected for their exemplary scholarship, research, and most importantly their passion for teaching and student success. In a short period of time this extraordinary group of educators have accomplished the following:


  • Built a trusted community
  • Created a framing question which inspires momentum and guides the work forward: Imagine a student-centered teaching culture where educators are motivated and prepared to encourage excellent learning. What would that look like?
  • Developed a catalogue of group assets
  • Connected the assets in innovative ways to form opportunities (projects) that respond to the framing question

The group will continue to develop this work under a more inclusive name, Educators Empowering Student Success; beyond its direct work of identifying strategies to create a student-centered teaching culture, it will also assist with student reorientation efforts this summer and the next academic year.

Foundational to this work, which is guided by an ethic of care, is collaborating, bridging cultures, developing trust, and listening to students. We are grateful for the vast expertise and experience of all the partners who contribute to a dynamic and inclusive student success ecosystem - one that supports educator and student wellbeing and achievement.

Faculty, instructors, other educators interested in this work are invited to contact Mary Beth Heeder, Sr. Consultant and Project Manager for Student Success, Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education heeder@msu.edu and Jeno Rivera, Jeno Rivera, Director, Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program;  Associate Professor, Residential College for the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) & CANR Community Sustainability jeno@msu.edu, the co-chairs of the Educators Empowering Student Success group.