Presidential Commission on Student Success

The Presidential Commission on Student Success was established to make bold recommendations to increase student retention and graduation rates.

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  • The Student Success Executive Committee was transformed into the Presidential Commission on Student Success, and its charge and membership have been revamped. The purpose of the commission is to make bold recommendations to increase student retention and graduation rates. Specific goals include:

    • Increase first year retention of full-time, first-time in college students to 85% by 2025.
    • Decrease retention disparities between demographic cohorts (e.g., first-gen and gender).
    • Develop an institutional vision of equitable student success to increase academic achievement, wellbeing, sense of belonging, and engagement.
    • Increase the 4-year graduation rate to 37%.
    • Increase the 6-year graduation rate to 58%.
    • Increase transfer student graduation rate to 64%.

    The commission will conduct a comprehensive review of our current strategies, identify strategies that need to be sunset, conduct benchmarking and data analysis, and identify and prioritize strategies and resources needed to meet student success targets.

    To shape the university-wide strategy for student success, Dr. Damphousse asked the group to:

    • Think outside of the box and dream big. Share bold, fresh, and different ideas. Set aggressive targets and timelines. Be fearless for the sake of our students!
    • Explore opportunities for impacting student success on both the Round Rock and San Marcos campuses.
    • Avoid the temptation of saying, “but we have always done it this way.” Henry Ford once said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

    Dr. Damphousse added two points of clarification. First, the commission is not intended to be an operational committee. Instead, the group will focus on recommending initiatives to meet our student success goals in the fastest way possible. Members have been empowered to use existing subcommittees or form new workgroups, as needed, to research and take deeper dives into focus areas and provide the commission with recommendations. The commission will prioritize and generate initiatives based on current data, identified needs, recommendations from workgroups, evidence-based trends, etc. Second, the group will have to make tough decisions around recommendations, resources, and priorities. Investment is likely not to be equally distributed across all student success programs.

  • The Presidential Commission on Student Success has worked diligently in response to the charge to make bold recommendations to increase student retention and graduation rates. The commission has met with Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Council of Chairs, and other university leaders regarding the charge. The group has solicited input and ideas on student success initiatives from faculty and staff, and will expand their inclusive data-gathering process this semester. Later this Spring, the commission will launch an online portal for faculty and staff members to submit proposals on student success programming, initiatives and recommendations for review. A link to that portal will be added to this webpage and shared university-wide. The commission has analyzed student success programs and metrics of peer and aspirant institutions, including site visits to benchmark other successful student initiatives at top universities. Commission members are reviewing data-informed, evidence-based proposals for new student success programs and initiatives, with more slated for review later this Spring. The commission will submit its full report to Cabinet by the deadline of January 9, 2023.

  • Jan. 9 recommendations approved by the Cabinet include: 

    • $2.25 million per year with an incremental increase to account for annual inflation (about $11.6 million over the next five years) to launch a Student Success Center, which will include a student success platform that will allow the university to collect, compile, analyze, and act on data that are known to predict student success. 

    Additional funding approved (not recommended by Commission) 

    • $500,000 per year with an incremental 3% increase every year (for about $2.7 million over the next five years) to expand student access to virtual mental health counseling and other initiatives supporting student well-being.

    This latest round of funding brings the total investment in student success since the commission was appointed to more than $14.2 million.  

    Other actions taken to support student success guided by the Commission’s work and recommendations: 

    Historically, student success initiatives have lived primarily in different units, reporting to different Vice Presidents. Students are more successful, and TXST is a better, stronger place because of the work of these units. In-and-of-themselves, they have made tremendous accomplishments and built a strong foundation of student success. TXST is now on a path to enhance the coordination and effectiveness of their efforts and further elevate their work. The university will bring like teams together to improve administration efficiency, cross train, and repurpose positions to fill gaps – all with the goal of creating a holistic student success mechanism that gives every Bobcat the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

    To accomplish this: 

    • TXST is creating a new Division of Student Success that will be comprised of departments in the Division of Student Affairs and specific student services units from University College. 

    • Dr. Cynthia Hernandez will lead this new division, and her title will change to Vice President for Student Success. 

    • Dr. Victoria Black will join the leadership team in the Division of Student Success. 

    • Dr. Kambra Bolch will remain in the Division of Academic Affairs to lead our first-year and transfer undergraduate student advising efforts. Dr. Bolch will also begin to work with the college deans to better coordinate academic advising in their respective colleges. Dr. Bolch and the units under her direction will report to the Provost’s Office, but will also work closely with the Division of Student Success as we rapidly move forward.   

    Next Steps: President Damphousse asked Dr. Hernandez and Dean Michael O’Malley to co-chair the Commission on Student Success.  

    They will be convening a meeting soon to continue to build upon the momentum that the commission created over the past several months. The commission is expected to continue, as their input will inform the creation of a student success center suited for TXST and identify and charge future task forces that will explore and enhance areas that affect student success, such as first-year and undergraduate advising, first year seminar (US1100), and student success data analytics. 

  • Unique challenges exist in the current academic landscape. Members of TXST's first-year class have not had the traditional high school experience because of the pandemic. Continuing students experienced similar academic challenges and learning loss. Students need support to meet the expectations of a rigorous academic environment.

    For several years, our first-year retention rate has hovered around 77%. Through strategic investments and coordinated efforts across the university, that number jumped to 80% this Fall. That is a tremendous achievement, yet TXST will not settle for allowing 20% of first-year students to not return for their sophomore year. TXST strives to provide conditions that support all Bobcats who are committed to their academic pursuits to ultimately walk across the graduation stage! Our faculty and staff must remain intentional across all student support programs and services to impact student success outcomes

  • President Damphousse notified the task force members of their charge on September 20, 2022. Task Force Co-Chairs Dr. David Byrd and Dr. Mary Ellen Cavitt have been asked to submit the group’s first report by January 9, 2023. After that initial report, the commission will submit quarterly updates until TXST achieves its student success targets.

    1. David Byrd, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (Co-Chair)
    2. Mary Ellen Cavitt, Associate Vice President for Academic Success, Dean of the University College (Co-Chair)
    3. Sonya Armstrong, Associate Dean for Student Success, College of Education
    4. Kambra Bolch, Assistant Vice President for Academic Success, University College
    5. Tahir Ekin, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Information Systems and Quantitative Methods
    6. Christine Hailey, Dean, College of Science and Engineering, Council of Deans Representative
    7. Danielle Nied, Director of Residential Experience, Housing and Residential Life
    8. Gary Ray, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing
    9. Ray Rogers, Director of Career Services
    10. Stella Silva, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence-Faculty and Staff Initiatives
    11. Beth Thomas, Director, School of Art and Design
    12. Beverly Woodson Day, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, Director of Undergraduate Admissions
    13. Michele Fissel, Lecturer, Department of Biology
damphousse with female student

“Doubling down on our commitment to student success is one of the top priorities of my presidency. As we accelerate our progress toward becoming a Research 1 institution, we will stay true to Texas State’s long-standing commitment to student success. We will honor our history and unique identity by recruiting and enrolling a diverse student body and providing a rich student experience that will prepare them for life and success during their time at Texas State and after graduation.”

 

– President Kelly Damphousse