Ready to Attend NSSR but Need to Convince the Business Office?

“Terrific learning and networking experience… I always come home rejuvenated with new ways to approach my work and that is priceless.”

How about you?

Are you ready to attend the Symposium, but need help convincing leadership to pay for it?

Travel and training budgets have been slashed at education institutions across the country with some experiencing severe financial problems. We understand that the cost of attending a conference is considerable and that your business office may want some serious justification.

NSSR is more affordable than many other conferences, gives a great return on investment and the smaller, more intimate size is designed for interaction & collaboration among colleagues who may serve as key contacts for future initiatives.

If you retain just one student, it could save your institution more than the cost of registration

Increasing student retention improves the financial health of an institution, as seen in studies including NSSR presentations. When making your case for attending, focus on the lessons and ideas which may be brought back to help your school with its retention efforts. Here are some suggestions:

  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation for your colleagues, highlighting what you learned
  • Share the electronic conference proceedings which are included in your registration fee and contain all of the peer-reviewed papers
  • Prepare a plan to show who will cover for you while you are away from the office
  • Estimate your expenses

We have created a justification letter template for your supervisor or business office. It explains the benefits you and your school will get from attending and includes a worksheet to help estimate the costs.

Remember to register by September 1 for the Early Bird discounts!

All faculty and staff at CSRDE institutions receive additional discounts on conference and workshop registration so check to see if your school is a member. If not, you can still qualify for the member discounts by becoming an individual member.

See You There!

CSRDE Announces 2016 NSSR Call for Proposals

Norman, OK – The Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) at the University of Oklahoma is now accepting proposals for its Twelfth Annual National Symposium on Student Retention (NSSR), to be held October 31 through November 3, 2016 at the Waterfront Marriott in Norfolk, Virginia.

CSRDE is seeking proposals on programs and research which can help institutions of higher education rise to the challenges of the 21st century by addressing critical issues affecting student retention and success. Topics may include evidence-based research or case studies on innovative programs targeting general or specific populations, interdisciplinary best practices and ideas for improving success through technology.

“The National Symposium on Student Retention provides practitioners, institutional researchers and effectiveness officers, enrollment managers, and student success professionals at all levels with the most extensive opportunities to learn from research-based, refereed papers and projects” – Tim Culver, Ruffalo Noel-Levitz.

Approximately 450 higher education colleagues participate in the conference from institutions across the United States and Canada each year, more than one third of whom have attended at least once before. In 2015, nine percent had returned five or more times. Concurrent sessions include peer-reviewed papers, pre-conference workshops, tutorials, panels and posters. The NSSR is distinguished from other conferences in that the process for all papers presented at the symposium begins with an abstract and continues through an eight month multiple stage peer review process, ensuring a high level of quality.

Researchers, administrators, practitioners and academics interested in speaking at the event should submit an abstract by March 21. Authors of accepted submissions will be invited to write a paper by May 23 for peer review. Papers that score sufficiently high in the review process are accepted for presentation at the symposium. An extra half day has been added to the conference this year due to the increasing number of high quality presentations and requests by attendees for more concurrent session times.

All accepted papers are published in the conference proceedings. In addition, they are considered for the following prizes: Best Practices in Student Retention Award ($2,000); Institutional Research Leadership in Student Retention Award ($1,000); and the Director’s Award ($750). Poster submissions are judged on-site for the Best Poster Award ($500). All published papers are archived online in the CSRDE Knowledgebase. Presenters receive copies of reviews from conference attendees and those which are well received may be invited to present a webinar.

The Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange has a diverse membership of about 400 colleges and universities and is coordinated by the Center for Institutional Data Exchange and Analysis (C-IDEA) at the University of Oklahoma Outreach. In addition to compiling four annual retention reports for the members of the consortium, C-IDEA is also the program evaluator for the Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP) program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The complete Call for Proposals may be downloaded from the CSRDE web site ( where more detailed information on the symposium and other consortium activities is available.

Best Practices in Student Retention Awards Announced

Orlando, FL – The Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) at the University of Oklahoma presented four awards during the recent eleventh annual National Symposium on Student Retention held in Orlando, FL.

The CSRDE hosts the symposium in order to provide a forum for administrators, faculty and staff from institutions of higher learning to share the most current research on student retention and success. More than 115 presentations were given this year, including 69 peer-reviewed papers, as well as tutorials, workshops and a poster session. More than 450 participants attended the conference from 229 institutions in 45 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.

The 2015 Best Practices Award was given to Lehman College-CUNY for the paper “Third-Semester Retention Success: Lehman College’s Freshman Year Initiative Program” by Steven Wyckoff and Zenaida Bough. Best Practices Award winners must demonstrate evidence of a system-wide approach to the institution’s retention issues. Lehman’s Freshman Year Initiative program is one of the school’s major retention initiatives, built on a learning community cohort structure aimed at comprehensive intervention in the academic experience of freshmen. These communities are based on curricular integration of linked courses, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach to first-year studies and builds awareness of the critical importance of integrating first-year students into the college community.

Purdue University was awarded the Institutional Research Leadership in Student Retention Award for the paper “Student Support Interventions and Predictive Analytics” by Diane Beaudoin, Maggie Konich, Monal Patel and  Xi (Cecilia) Zhang. The paper identified a model to predict new students’ first semester cumulative GPA and determined the fit of that model if the student experienced one or more student support interventions. Based on the predicted GPAs, potentially at-risk students were identified and intervention services were targeted specifically to them. The latest data showed students who experienced an intervention had statistically significant higher GPAs than those who did not have any intervention.

The Director’s Award went to “Transfer Pathway Program: Building a Bridge from the Community College to the University” as the paper that best addressed an issue of current interest and need in the field of student retention and success. The paper, written by Jennifer Brown, Nicole Iwasaki and Melissa Jones, discussed an existing transfer partnership between community colleges and their institution, the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges report in spring 2011 revealed that, compared with other students who transferred via the regular method, students in this transfer program had a higher grade point average and a lower attrition rate.

The Best Poster Award was given to Penn State Fayette Campus for “Becoming SAGE: Learning from the Past and Retaining Student Athletes at a Rural, Primarily Two-Year Campus,” designed and presented by Danielle Mitchell and Mary Budinsky. The poster showed how campus leaders tried to learn from past mistakes to develop a systemic program (SAGE—Student Athletes Graduate and Excel) to support the integration, cognitive development, satisfaction and success of student athletes.

The Twelfth Annual National Symposium on Student Retention will be held October 31-November 2, 2016 in Norfolk, Virginia. The CSRDE begins accepting proposals for consideration in late January. Information will be posted as it becomes available on the CSRDE Web site (

The CSRDE has a diverse membership of more than 400 colleges and universities—two- and four-year, public and private—with the common interest of achieving the highest levels of student success through sharing data, knowledge and innovation. It is operated by the Center for Institutional Data Exchange and Analysis at the University of Oklahoma Outreach.

CSRDE Included in Postsecondary Data Clearinghouse

The Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) recently launched their website as a clearinghouse for information on postsecondary data initiatives and research.

The CSRDE was invited to be one of 16 voluntary data initiatives highlighted in the Mapping the Data Landscape section of the site. The Consortium’s fact sheet was used with those of other organizations to help create Data Snapshots of the states and territories represented, measures included, and methods used for data collection and distribution. In addition to the voluntary initiatives, national data collections are also featured, as well as reports and other resources. The report, Mapping the Postsecondary Domain: Problems and Possibilities, discusses the data measures vital to understanding student success and explores future possible solutions.

PostsecData is an initiative created by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and funded through a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that advocates for high-quality postsecondary data.

Outreach’s CSRDE Wins Regional Award

The University of Oklahoma’s Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE), a program of OU Outreach, has grown from humble beginnings 21 years ago into an award-winning department this year. CSRDE was recently awarded the Exceptional Program Award from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE), Great Plains Region, for its work on the National Symposium on Student Retention.

“Watching the symposium grow has been so exciting,” said Sandra Whalen, CSRDE’s director who has been with the program since 2000. “The symposium really is the premiere event for presenting and learning about the most current research on student retention and graduation at four-year and two-year institutions.” When the symposium was first held in 2005, about 200 attendees participated. Now, over 500 people attend annually, and in 2013 registration was forced to close weeks before the symposium began due to the high number of registrants.

CSRDE has earned the respect of leaders in the retention field. “It’s been exciting to see how a ‘big name’ person in retention research now responds to an invitation to speak at our event and how honored he or she is to have been asked to present. It’s a reminder that we really are doing something important,” Whalen said.

ACHE’s Exceptional Program Award honors conferences and credit and noncredit programs for their originality, innovation, long-term success and adaptability. Award winners must promote programs that can be adapted by other institutions, stay within budget and entice attendees with diverse and original topics, materials and programming.

Whalen believes that the symposium’s varying locations, outings, proposals and people set it aside from other symposia. The symposium is typically hosted in a mid-sized city, and special outings are coordinated to engage attendees with an experience exclusive to the area, like visiting Churchill Downs when the symposium was in Louisville, Kentucky in 2014.

The quality of the presentations keeps attendees engaged and thoughtful while at the symposium. Presentations are derived from submitted research proposals. Each January, the call for research proposal abstracts begins and proposals are submitted to CSRDE from across the country. The symposium organizers read each proposal and, should the proposal be accepted, the applicant is then asked to write a ten-page paper about his or her topic. Papers are then reviewed by peers in higher education and the finalized papers are included in the Proceedings of the symposium. The paper authors then have the opportunity to present their work at the event.

Whalen believes the inclusive nature of the symposium also sets it aside from other conferences.

“You may be an institutional researcher, and you’re sitting at a table with a president of a college or university. We have presidents, vice presidents, provosts, directors and faculty all coming together in one place, which is a unique thing,” said Whalen. “Most conferences are so specialized to job-specific topics, but ours is totally focused on what can we do to help students succeed on their campuses.” First-year programs, bridge programs, data-driven decision making, orientation programs and developmental education programs have all been popular topics in the past.

“We’re an award-winning event now. The recognition makes us feel that our work is worth it, and we love the work that we do for the symposium,” Whalen said. “It validates everything we are doing.”

Whalen points out that she does not do everything alone. She calls her small staff “incredible,” insisting that the work of Brittnee Morton, Miaomiao Rimmer and Jennifer Robertson make the symposium all that it is. In addition, Whalen also credits several Outreach departments as vital contributors, citing Conference Pros, Registration and Records, IT, Duplicating and Printing Services and E-Team for CSRDE’s continued success. Whalen says that it takes all of Outreach’s efforts to continue to uphold the symposium’s high standards.

“The main thing we hope for is that participants have something valuable to take back to their campuses,” she said. If their recent award is any indication, they have done just that.

The 2015 National Symposium on Student Retention will be held in November in Orlando, Florida. Updates may be found on the Symposium page at To find out more about the Association for Continuing Higher Education, Great Plains Region, go to Learn more about CSRDE at