Student Success Conference 2021

Student Success Conference 2021

April 20th | A Virtual Experience

The Objective

Open to University of Arizona faculty, staff and students, the purpose of the conference is to engage the campus community in a regular discussion of how we teach, guide, and support our students.  The 2021 focus will be on advancing degree completion for undergraduate students.  

Conference Goals

  • Provide an opportunity to highlight successful collaborations on campus
  • Encourage professional dialogue across departmental or administrative lines to foster collaborative work
  • Create a space in which participants can engage in strategic and creative thinking around collaborative work focused on student success


Please join us for the 3rd annual Student Success Conference.  The focus of this year's conference will be working as a community to advance degree completion.  Join colleagues from across campus to hear from national experts on improving graduation rates, a university call to action, and join institutional experts in discussion groups regarding tangible work to help students persist at and graduate from the University of Arizona. 


Schedule At-A-Glance

April 20, 2021

9:00am Kick-off  & Welcome  Dr. Cynthia Demetriou | Vice Provost for Student Success & Retention Inovation
9:10am Keynote Address  Dr. Timothy Renick | Executive Director, National Institute for Student Success, Georgia State University 
10:00am Institutional Commitment to Degree Completion  Dr. Liesl Folks | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
10:30am Centering Equity & Inclusion in Degree Completion Efforts  Ivy Banks, J.D. | Associate Vice Provost, Diversity and Inclusion
10:45am Break   
10:55am Discussion & Work Teams   (Descriptions Below) 
11:55am Recap   
12:30 Closing 

Dr. Gail Burd | Senior Vice Provost, Academic Affairs / Teaching and Learning



Discussion Groups  

Groups, guided by institutional experts will discuss pre-determined topics and questions.  Experts will provide an overview of the specified topic area to enhance the discussion.  Sessions will be recorded so they can be transcribed later and summarized by the SSRI Strategy Team.   Summaries of conversations and ideas will be provided back to campus following the conference. 

10:55a - 11:55a  

  • 10:55a-11:05a  - Overview, Data & Initiatives  
  • 11:05a-11:50a - Discussion and Questions  

Topics have been identified based on national trends and recommendations from across campus regarding institutional issues that impact retention.  During sessions faculty and staff will learn about current initiatives and data on the topic as well as think about how they can impact their own sphere of influence in terms of increasing degree completion. 

Participants should attend sessions where they can learn further about topics, but also where they can use the conversation to impact their own work

Topics categories include: institutional support, self-efficacy, institutional commitment, classroom learning environment, career/grad/professional degree aspirations and social support & belonging.  Discussions specifics will be tailored by the institutional expert leading the discussion. 





Some sessions may be unavailable when you register, based on the number of registered participants. 

This Session is currently full. 

Allison Ewing-Cooper, Director, Academic Advising and Student Success, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences 

  • Danielle Flink,  Retention Specialist , CALS

  • Kami Merrifield, Retention Specialist , SBS

  • Stephanie Hanson, Retention Specialist , Eller

  • Maggie Ramirez, , Retention Specialist , Medicine

  • Jeremiah Webb, Retention Specialist , HUMS

There is a wealth of small but impactful institutional data available that can assist in informing proactive academic advising, outreach to students, and connecting students with valuable resources. In this session, the pilot group of Student Success and Retention Specialists will highlight how they have led the way in utilizing data to level the playing field on a student’s journey towards completion, demonstrate how our work is building new bridges across the decentralized college model by creating a culture of strategy, and collaboration that uses data to increase student persistence and completion by fostering an equitable student experience across the entire student life cycle. In our discussion, we will engage participants by exploring other cross-campus collaborations and institutional data that might be leveraged in the future for targeted student outreach leading to greater student success and completion.

This Session is currently full. 

Greg Heileman, Vice Provost, Undergraduate Education

In this session we will provide a introduction to curricular analytics, a set of analytical techniques and tools that allow you to quantify the complexity of curricula, simulate student progress towards degree completion under various scenarios, and create degree plans that maximize the chances of students completing their degrees on time.  A special theme throughout the session will be the relationship between curricular analytics and equitable student success outcomes. How can we use comparative complexity scores and curricular maps, for example, to foster greater progress and degree completion equity for racially minoritized, limited income, and first-generation students? How can we use these tools to break down structural barriers that, unintentionally and often invisibility, reproduce and exacerbate pernicious inequities?

After participating in this session participants will have a basic understand of how to: 
 - Analyze various metrics/statistics related to the complexity of curricula and degree plans; 
 - Use curricular analytics tools that have been provided as open-source software;
 - Understand how to incorporate curricular analytics into curriculum redesign efforts.

Susan Miller-Cochran, Executive Director, General Education
Professor, English 
Professor, Second Language Acquisition / Teaching - GIDP 

Aligning Curricula Design with Outcomes, Assessments, and Values: Lessons from the Gen Ed Refresh

In this discussion group, we will talk about principles of curricular (re)design, focusing on constructive alignment with student learning outcomes and assessments while also focusing on the values that are driving the curricula. Specifically, we’ll look at lessons learned from the Gen Ed Refresh efforts as they emerged from values focused on several theories of learning and motivation.

This Session is currently full. 

Lisa Elfring, Associate Vice Provost, Office of Instruction/Assessment

Member of the General Faculty
Associate Specialist, Biology Education 
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute

Although there are many important steps and events in a student’s college journey, many instructors have the greatest impact on students' experiences through the courses we teach. Our choices about instructional strategies, course policies, and even the language we use in communicating about our content, expectations and goals can have a large impact on students and their sense of whether or not they belong and can succeed in our classes, majors, and university.  We will briefly consider research evidence and recommendations and then brainstorm what strategies we might start, stop, do more of, or do less of in our courses to support students’ learning, well-being, and sense of belonging. How could we assess the impact of these changes? Since we all teach different classes, which occupy different positions in different programs, your unique contribution will add valuable perspective as we define how each of us can impact degree completion. 

This Session is currently full. 

Marla Franco, Assistant Vice Provost, Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives
Faculty Affiliate

As we strive to strengthen our capacity as a Hispanic Serving Institution, degree attainment rates are certainly one of several metrics that signal the extent to which we are “serving” students well. As an HSI, we all have the potential to strengthen institutional conditions needed to inclusively and equitably advance degree attainment among our growing Latinx student population. Many students come to us with generational hopes, dreams, and college aspirations, so what can we do to intentionally go from “Hispanic enrolling” to “Hispanic graduating”? 

This Session is currently full. 

Michelle McKelvey, Director of the Thrive Center 

The college experience is shaped through each interaction students have on campus. There is no one program, office, person, or event that contributes to a student’s success, but there can be one interaction or situation that causes a student to pause, reconsider, or stop their education as a Wildcat. We all have the opportunity to positively impact students and their engagement with us. In this discussion, we will focus on the populations served by the Thrive Center and the reasons they tend to leave our institution. This includes students who are first-generation, from low-income households, have experienced foster care or housing insecurity, transferred, are on academic probation, and those who have not found a community on campus. Many times, simply being aware of how much our students are carrying outside of the classroom can equip us to support them academically and socially through degree completion.  

This Session is currently full.

Nura Dualeh, Director, Undergraduate Research / Graduate Preparation Programs
Director, ASEMS

What does sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and scholarly identity have to do with success in graduate school or the workplace? Turns out, quite a lot! These factors have been found to influence student retention, degree completion, and graduate/professional school enrollment. In 2021, do your teaching and advising practices incorporate growth mindset and asset-based principles? Do your daily interactions with students build or inhibit their agency? Are you part of the retention problem or do you seek solutions? To appeal to a wider demographic scholars and leaders, companies, graduate schools, and professional schools are adopting inclusive and equity-based strategies such as unconscious bias training, holistic admissions practices, rethinking standardized testing, and diversifying outreach efforts. Join this lively conversation on best practices for supporting students across various career pathways, including graduate and professional school. Let's learn together. 

This Session is currently full. 

Art Young, Executive Director, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid

Chrissy Lieberman, Associate Dean Of Students

How does financial support and security impact degree completion? We will discuss national trends and explore how we see this important element of success impacting University of Arizona students. We’ll also identify important resources and partnerships on campus, including lessons learned from the creation of the Richard H. Tyler Emergency Fund and the implementation of federal programs for pandemic relief.

This Session is currently full. 

Sarah Wieland, Assistant Vice Provost, Distance Education

Carmin Chan, Director, Online Student Success

The post-traditional college student experience has now become the reality for the majority – especially when longstanding demographic trends were compounded by the realities of life during the pandemic. College students are increasingly balancing multiple identities, facing competing priorities or responsibilities, navigating through financial hardships, and needing detours or delays along their college journey. Looking ahead, our institution will be pressed to serve students who arrive to our college community with a variety of prior life experiences and levels of college readiness. There is no point in assuming that campus life will return to “normal.”  Instead, we need to adapt to meet the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse student body. Arizona Online and Distance Education specializes in serving post-traditional college audiences and offering students the opportunity to progress toward their academic and career goals while balancing non-academic responsibilities.

This Session is currently full.

Ashley Hurand, Program Manager, Customer Experience and Support | UAIR

T. Noecker, Program Manager, External Reporting | UAIR

Description to be updated soon.  

Discuss ways to access and leverage data to better understand student populations,  in order to increase retention and degree completion.  

This Session is currently full.

Sarah Kyte, Senior Research Scientist, SSRI

Faculty Affiliate

The student journey is comprised of a series of transitions. Though models of student success often emphasize student attributes and outcomes, viewing student success through this lens adds emphasis to the pathways, policies, and supports universities offer to an increasingly diverse group of learners. After discussing this perspective and highlighting some recent successes at supporting students in the transition to college, we will dive into existing and imagined initiatives and strategies to support students all the way across the finish line to graduation and beyond.

Marco Ortiz, Director, Think Tank

This group will focus on the benefits of peer support systems for University of Arizona students as they progress through their path to graduation. We will discuss the types of peer support, advantages, and challenges of peer support systems across campus. Attend if you’d like to to learn, share, and identify opportunities where student-to-student support takes place.

This Session is currently full.

Abra Mcandrew, Assistant Vice President, Access Engagement and Opportunity

After Affordability and Academic Strength, prospective students cite Career Preparation as one of the most important factors in their choice to attend the University of Arizona or not. Studies indicate that these three factors continue to influence student persistence and degree completion in nuanced ways. In this session, we'll cover some of what is known about how student aspirations for the future and their experiences of related campus support influence their outcomes. After reviewing current thought about models for college student development in this area, participants will engage in an interactive exercise to share their experiences and ideas related to three key questions. How might we affirm and build upon students’ career-related motivations for degree completion to support the timely accomplishment of graduation milestones? How might we consistently embed well-timed experiential learning and other career-related interventions that enhance student commitment to academic progress into the student experience? And how might we assess these efforts to identify what we should do more of, and for whom, to scale support for students’ aspirations that their academic efforts lead to meaningful work? The expertise of faculty, academic advisors, career strategies, assessment, and student success professionals will all add a valuable perspective to this conversation. 

John Pollard, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, The Honors College 

Member of the General Faculty
Associate Professor of Practice

In this session, I will guide a discussion on how we can intentionally create learning environments that both support students embracing challenges, as well as supporting them in these pursuits.  In addition, we will consider how formative feedback can be used as a tool to support student engagement and think about the big question of "why do we gather students together?"

This Session is currently full. 

Amy Athey, Associate Vice Provost/Chief Wellness Officer

One cannot perform if they are not well.  This seems obvious when we watch the star player go down with an ACL and is unable to return to the court.  But what about when one’s wellness and consequently, academic performance,  is compromised by the impact of the stressful events? 

In this discussion group, the facilitator will share back key aspects of the psychological impact of stressful events such as the pandemic on recovery, wellness and performance. The group will explore ways to implement key antidotes in support of their students and professional staff communities.

Paul Blowers, Distinguished Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering 
Professor, Public Health 

Member of the General Faculty

Retention efforts in college are often carried out by staff, advisers, and other student support groups.  However, it is faculty who spend the largest amount of time with students, often three hours a week or more for a three credit class.  Faculty can reframe interactions with students when they realize that subtle and persistent use of supportive actions regarding belongingness, metacognition, growth mind set, and self-efficacy can have large impacts on student success, even though the reframing costs almost nothing in time or money.

This Session is currently full.  

Judy Marquez Kiyama, Associate Vice Provost, Faculty Development

In an effort to counter deficit approaches in classroom teaching and instruction in higher education, this discussion will focus on how educational spaces can be reshaped to build upon the cultural values, assets, and collective knowledge of minoritized student populations. Particular attention will be paid to theories and frameworks that enhance our HSI designation. Discussion and resources will offer an overview of: 1) theoretical foundations of culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum; 2) decolonizing and humanizing instructional methods as a means to understand and integrate cultural knowledge; 3) recommendations in the development of culturally responsive, equity-focused curriculum.

Rebecca Gomez, Interim Associate Dean for Student Academic Success , College of Science

Professor, Psychology and Cognitive Science

Research on learning and memory tells us a lot about fostering better learning in the classroom in terms of principles for better initial learning, better retention, better retrieval and better incorporation of concepts into existing knowledge. We will also discuss the importance of healthy sleep practices for better classroom learning. We will consider how best to incorporate learning principles into instructional practices and brainstorm strategies for individual faculty to incorporate learning principles into their teaching practices.