Nearly seven months ago, we sought to intentionally amplify the ongoing conversation regarding student retention. In that time, we formed a steering committee to guide the process. That group hosted a faculty and staff retention retreat in December and a series of student focus groups in January. We also opened anonymous online suggestion boxes available for all faculty, staff, and students to provide feedback, express concerns, or share ideas that could impact student retention.

Throughout this process we have sought to be deliberative, purposeful, and to include faculty, staff, and student voices. As a result, we incorporated and evaluated a wide range of 63 recommendations to improve student retention. This initial list was condensed into a final 16 retention priorities, approved by the President’s Cabinet for immediate implementation.

The NSU community is encouraged to take the opportunity to review the full reports at length. Thank you to the many chairs and committee members who spent countless hours discussing, brainstorming, researching, and planning; and thank you to the Cabinet for the hours they spent reviewing, analyzing, and discussing the 16 reports.

As we go forward, the appropriate Vice President will work with departments, colleges, and programs to implement the identified action items. The Vice Presidents will also ensure the retention priorities website and progress is updated.

I hope that you will continue to fully engage in the conversations on how to improve student retention. We all have a role to play in ensuring the engagement, retention, and persistence of our students.

CHARGE: Develop a white paper regarding necessary updates, redesigns, or changes to to ensure it reflects accurate information and communicates important information to prospective and current students.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified specific website changes, including content layout, navigation menus, and image displays to improve the overall design of the website. University Relations is working with the website vendor to develop appropriate code in order to roll out new changes.

CHARGE: Create a plan and timeline for the development of published course sequences and modalities for all majors and graduate programs, including how course sequences will be published and available for students.

Final Report

Status: The committee located existing undergraduate major course sequences (degree maps) and identified a challenge that currently available sequences used different titles and layouts. They created a branded standard template and are transitioning all undergraduate sequences to the new template. Files will be hosted in the Undergraduate academic catalog. The Graduate College is establishing graduate sequences and developing a graduate template, which will be hosted on the Graduate College website.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for ensuring that a general education sequence is available to be completed in an all-online format, in a sequence that can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame for students. Create a comprehensive list of all available undergraduate degree programs that can be completed fully online.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified online general education offerings and corresponding semesters that they are offered. The committee provided a list of all programs available online, including the general education requirements for each program. Committee recommended the creation of an online catalog or online course identifier within the academic catalog, to ensure that students can access information regarding online classes easily.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for the growth of the faculty mentorship model, including expectations of and training for faculty mentors, providing adequate support, and program oversight.

Final Report

Status:Committee identified multiple short-term needs and goals, including access to mentee lists, distribution of mentee assignments, centralizing resources, and establishing oversight. Long-term needs and goals include developing meaningful incentives for faculty and students to support the growth and ongoing engagement with faculty mentoring.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for ensuring that ongoing facilities needs are identified and the functioning of the work order system. Increase communication regarding open work orders, University capital projects, and NSU’s master plan, with the goal of easy access to up-to-date information and regular communication to campus constituents.

Final Report

Status: Committee reviewed historic improvements in the existing work order system and recent changes. The committee recommended better use of the existing work order system, improved notifications, improved communication, and improved advertising and use of the website. The committee recommended improving work order communication to provide increased understanding of what has been done, what is in progress, and relevant status updates.

CHARGE: Develop Blackboard shells to ensure format and functionality are consistent across the University and maximize online quality and learning. Develop relevant policies and a timeline for implementation for Fall 2022.

Final Report

Status:  Committee evaluated a wide range of published best practices and developed a standardized LMS course shell to ease use for faculty and students. The committee drafted a LMS course shell policy and a phased implementation plan with a target for full implementation for Spring 2023.

CHARGE:As Oklahoma’s premiere immersive learning institution, we must ensure that there are internship or research opportunities within every major, inclusive of credit bearing, non-credit, or volunteer opportunities for any student who desires that experience and that students are aware of how to participate in those experiences.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified proposed language for programs and offices to identify and disseminate experiential learning experiences, including internships, research, simulations, study abroad, field trips, and practice. The committee proposed guidelines for university wide language, determining which experiences fulfilled experiential learning, and expectations of how these experiences should be structured. Committee recommended establishing a permanent experiential learning committee and embedding experiential learning in the new strategic plan.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for implementing midterm grades for all students in all courses.

Final Report

Status: The Committee identified updated Faculty Handbook language to establish midterm grades for each class and an implementation plan with academic deans for Fall 2022. Committee identified as a long term need for potential software to better automate moving of midterm grades from Blackboard to Banner.

CHARGE:Develop a plan to ensure that student contact information on file is current and reviewed periodically.

Final Report

Status: Committee created a how-to video to demonstrate the ability to update existing contact information within goNSU. The committee also developed a plan to implement Action Items Processing to provide a pop-up notification for students to confirm their contact information once a semester. Action Items Processing to be implemented with the launch of Banner Self Service 9.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for education regarding existing online library access with a timeline for implementation. Evaluate ongoing online access needs.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified opportunities for website updates, improved advertising, and outreach and education regarding services. The committee also identified updates for Library courses, improved outreach and collaboration with advisors, and education regarding OER initiatives. The committee also identified recurring and long term needs to review resources and consider technology advances for lending online.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for ensuring students have appropriate access to and awareness of academic student support series, including available tutoring services and writing centers. Evaluate access to services available for Muskogee, Broken Arrow, graduate students and students completing degrees online for consistency, including access to overall academic space for Muskogee students. Create a plan for implementing needed updates.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified needed website improvements to better communicate accurate and up to date information and to remove redundant or out of date information. The committee recommended improved reporting sharing of DFW and Civitas information to identify improvements and evaluate trends. Additionally, the committee evaluated existing tutoring services on all campuses and identified ways to better communicate available resources.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for providing comprehensive student support services for online students and branch campuses, including evaluating after hours and weekend services. Ensuring student awareness of existing services.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified the need to provide mobile ID access and necessary software upgrades. The Committee also identified needed website updates, orientation updates, and new marketing material to better communicate availability of services to online and branch campus students. The committee recommended ongoing evaluation of extended hours.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for providing customer service training; training on identifying and supporting at-risk students; and ensuring excellence in teaching and customer service for online student populations.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified the need to better identify gaps for online students, available solutions for needed improvements, and options for professional development. Regarding supporting at-risk students, the committee recommended increased marketing of existing resources, opportunities for outreach and improved communication, and improved collaborative relationships. For customer service training, the committee recommended establishing a Frontline Administrative Working Group to better foster communication, shared knowledge, and collaborative relationships.

CHARGE: Develop a plan to evaluate University Strategies for effectiveness and best practices.

Final Report

Status: Committee identified multiple improvements to University Strategies for the fall semester, including shifting to a full face-to-face schedule (other than online sections), redesigned course work, a new OER textbook, improved connections to major related activities, enhancing training and peer instructor and faculty support.

CHARGE: Develop a plan to increase course evaluation participation rates and ensure course evaluations are an effective tool for continuous improvement.

Final Report

Status:  Committee evaluated current response rates, survey instruments, and national best practices. The committee developed an action plan for better communicating when course evaluations are available and their value. Communication will use various methods, including email, social media, and leveraging student groups and student transitions. The committee recommended establishing completion goals at various institutional, college, and department levels.

CHARGE: Develop a plan for transfer student orientation on the Broken Arrow, Muskogee and Tahlequah campuses. Evaluate needed transfer services that support a positive student transition.

Final Report

Status:  Committee recommended updating and revising the existing transfer, returning, and distance learner online orientation modules, establishing an in-person transfer orientation program, supplementing Welcome Week with transfer specific sessions, the creation of a transfer guide and blackboard organization, as well as increasing post-enrollment activities specifically for transfer students.