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

One of my goals when we created the Strategic Initiatives Project Group and started to adjust the purpose and operations of the Campus Student Success Group was that we would see more alignment and collaboration across the student success work happening on campus. In my four years in central administration, I have seen significant movement towards collaboration in the student success work done, in particular in the direct student support programs. However, when it came to the work at the structural, policy or workgroup level, it seemed there was still a lot of work to be done. Workgroups were formed, did great work, and wrote reports that sat on an administrator’s desk. Unless you were in the workgroup, you often did not know what work was being done or what recommendations came from the workgroup. 

This year we pulled many of the student success initiatives into one central space and had them update each other on the work they were doing every two weeks. The project leads came from seven different divisions and some had never worked together before. Within a few meetings we started to see overlap in the work and directions of the projects and started to hear, “Oh, we should talk more after this meeting because we were thinking about something similar,” or “Can you tell me more about what you found, because we need to think about that too?” Many great discussions were had in the meeting space around the work that was being done and how it related to other projects.

Beyond discussions, we were more efficient in the work and worked to avoid two projects making conflicting or complicating decisions. We were about to bridge the work of the Student Communication project and the Re-Orientation project to limit duplication and ensure alignment between the messages that went out. The Re-Orientation project pulled from a lot of the work of the Two Year Experience project and will be passing on a lot of information and continuation back to the Two Year Experience project as well. The Faculty Increasing Student Success project is supporting Re-Orientation through their lens of faculty needs. Data was shared from the Supporting Equity in Essential Needs group that helped frame the work of the Black Student Success Initiative. 

The Campus Student Success Group is also making sure that reports and data don’t just sit on administrators’ desks. We have invited folks into our meetings to share their findings and recommendations from work groups and engaged in discussion around how we can move those initiatives forward. Institutional Research has been a critical member over the years and regularly reports on student success metrics and analysis the unit has conducted while sharing how members can utilize the information shared to make data informed decisions.

While we still have a lot of work to do in operationalizing recommendations that come from workgroups, I am proud of the changes I have seen in the last few months.  I am honored to work with colleagues who are breaking down the silos of the past and moving towards collaboration with the understanding that we all need to work together to improve the campus experience for students at MSU.