The full conference schedule is now available here. The multiple stage review process on the papers submitted for presentation is complete. Details on the process may be found on the Call for Proposals page.

Mobile App

NSSR is using the Guidebook mobile app again this year. The NSSR 2017 app is available free for download.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Monday, November 6, 2017
  • 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:00 am – 8:30 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
    Pre-conference Workshops (additional fees required)
  • 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
    Welcome Reception


Tuesday, November 7, 2017
  • 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:00 am – 8:30 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:15 am – 9:45 am
    Plenary Session – with Saundra Yancy McGuire
  • 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 11:20 am – 12:50 pm
  • 12:50 pm – 2:15 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 2:15 pm – 4:50 pm
    Concurrent Sessions


Wednesday, November 8, 2017
  • 7:00 am – 4:30 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:15 am – 8:45 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:30 am – 9:45 am
    Plenary Session
  • 10:00 am – 12:20 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 12:20 pm – 1:50 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 1:50 pm – 3:10
    Poster Session
  • 3:20 pm – 4:20 pm
    Concurrent Sessions


Thursday, November 9, 2017
  • 8:15 am – 9:30 am
    Best Practices Awards Breakfast
  • 9:30 am – Noon
    On-site Registration
  • 9:45 am – Noon
    Concurrent Sessions

Sunday – Let’s Get Together!

Bike Ride at Topsail, photo courtesy of Lashonda McNair

If you arrive early, come explore the resort with us!

We’ll meet after lunch at 12:45 in the Magnolia Foyer of the Baytowne Conference Center, next door to the Grand Sandestin. Wear comfortable shoes and bring what you need for the journey, including water. You may also want money for refreshments at the Beach House.


BICYCLISTS will take a short walk to the Marina and check-out bikes. The resort includes two bicycle rentals per day with your room, so there will be no charge with your room key. Most will ride to the beach through the resort.

Others may choose to venture through the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to the beach. There is a $2 fee to ride through the state park using the bike paths.

The bicyclists will return before the bike shop closes at 4:00.

TRAMS -there will also be a group that takes the tram to the beach. There is no charge for riding but you’ll need to show your room key.

DINNER -Change of Plans- meet us at 5:30 in the Magnolia Foyer of the Baytowne Conference Center. If you don’t already have plans, let’s get together for dinner. We’re organizing, but each person handles their own tab.

No reservations necessary.

Monday Evening Welcome Reception on the Grand Lawn

Please join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on Monday evening after the pre-conference workshops. Relax and enjoy strolling the elegant lawn, admiring the gardens. Get to know your colleagues or reconnect with the ones you met last year at NSSR16. The welcome reception is included with your conference registration. You are welcome to bring guests, please see the registration page for cost. Cash bar.


Tuesday Keynote – Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire

Saundra McGuire

Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire is the Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. She is an internationally recognized chemical educator, author and lecturer who has travelled the globe promoting sure-fire strategies to help students, including those underrepresented in science and math professions, to be successful in their coursework and careers. She has delivered keynote addresses or presented workshops at over 300 institutions in 44 states and eight countries. Prior to joining LSU, she spent eleven years at Cornell University, where she received the coveted Clark Distinguished Teaching Award. Her latest book is Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation.

She received her B.S. degree, magna cum laude, from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, her Master’s degree from Cornell and her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she received the Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Professional Promise. Her most recent awards include induction in 2017 into the LSU College of Science Hall of Distinction, receiving the 2017 American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students to Pursue Careers in the Chemical Sciences, and receiving the 2016 AAAS Lifetime Mentoring Award. She is an elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

She is married to Dr. Stephen C. McGuire, a professor of physics at Southern University. They are the parents of Dr. Carla McGuire Davis and Dr. Stephanie McGuire, and the doting grandparents of Joshua, Ruth, Daniel, and Joseph Davis.


Metacognition: The Key to Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates for All Students!

21st Century students come to college with widely varying academic skills and motivation levels. Although all students who are admitted have the ability to succeed, many students do not have effective learning strategies and resort to memorizing information just before tests. They then lose confidence in their ability after they fail their first round of exams. This is especially true of many underprepared students who were less likely to have been enrolled in a challenging academic environment before they get to college. This interactive talk will present findings from cognitive science and wellness research that can be used to engage all areas of an institution in improving student success. The session will present specific strategies that have resulted in significant increases in student learning in undergraduate, graduate, and professional school environments. We will focus on ways to teach students simple, yet powerful learning strategies to ensure success in their courses, their careers and in life.

Here are the links to download the Learning Strategies Inventory and Teaching Learning Strategies handouts. Dr. McGuire has also made the Powerpoint presentation from her keynote address available.

Specific strategies that have resulted in significant increases in student learning

Pre-conference Workshops  Monday, November 6 – Optional, there is an additional fee for registration

Full-day Workshop  8:30 am – 4:30 pm

The student experience is full of internal and external obstacles where it is easier to leave than stay. A retention-centered student experience anticipates these “pinch points” and provides just-in-time guidance, support and affirmation. What is needed is an integrated student experience that strengthens a students’ sense of belonging, security and hope. Students need intentional, timed, and engaging experiences to help students manage pressures of their urgent second-thoughts on their decision to attend and to strengthen their sense of belonging as they connect with other students having similar pressures and making the decision to stay the course. Regardless of prior experiences, a student’s sense of security is tied to the belief in the sufficiency of personal resources to attain their goals and to overcome barriers to success. Finally, almost by definition, a student who chooses to start college is driven by an abiding sense of hope. Without hope that the learning opportunity is worth the personal investment of their time, energy and good will, students will not apply effort to overcoming inevitable obstacles. Workshop participants will apply student-centered design to experiences across the student life cycle and learn to implement those designs for coherent curricular and co-curricular approaches to student success.

  • Audit the programs and services that build student capacities for belonging, security, and hope across the student life cycle
  • Develop dashboards to track effectiveness of programs and services
  • Assess the effectiveness of current programs and services in terms of returns on College investments
  • Identify gaps in programs and services and ensure that structure promotes effective initiatives
  • Adapt proven best-practices to create innovations in programs and services that both improve ROI and close gaps
  • Align organizational structures and resources with student success goals



Marguerite Weber, D.A., Baltimore City Community College – Dr. Weber’s career in higher education spans more than 30 years. As the Vice President of Student Affairs, she designs and builds new programs and services that focus on an integrated student experience. As the VP, Adult Programs, Cabrini University, she developed an innovative approach to adult learning. From 2006-2015, as the Director of Student Academic Affairs and Academic Initiatives at the University of Baltimore, Dr. Weber provided leadership for student success research; systems design for persistence, including course redesign; and college readiness/early college programs. Weber earned a Doctor of Arts from George Mason University; she also holds graduate credentials in Institutional Research, Adult Education, Composition and Rhetoric, and English. As an independent consultant and national speaker, Dr. Weber helps institutions to promote design thinking for institutional effectiveness, academic transformation for courses and programs, and faculty development in blended learning pedagogies and adapted high impact practices.

Morning Workshops  8:30 am – 12:00 pm

This workshop will provide a thorough introduction to educational data mining and hands-on practice using tools necessary for performing data mining with emphasis on retention. This workshop makes the process and skills approachable for beginners and offers a solid foundation for those with prior experience. Through the use of RapidMiner Studio (a free and easy to use data mining software) and the Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining, participants will experience the following learning outcomes through discussion, examples, and hands-on activities.

  • Gain an understanding of data mining and its implications for student retention
  • Discover how to move from a hypothesis to discovering sources of quality data
  • Learn how to prepare a data set for analysis
  • Learn how to identify and use the proper data mining models
  • Understand the process for evaluating the results of a data mining model
  • Determine how to put a data mining model into action



Bryan Fendley, M.S., University of Arkansas at Monticello – Bryan Fendley has experience presenting at over twenty-seven national higher education workshops and conferences. His interests involve data science and its application to student retention. He is the recipient of Blackboard’s Innovative Development Award and the University of Arkansas at Monticello Chancellor’s Award for Student Success. His retention experience involves implementing Educational Advisory Board’s software for student advisement and Blackboard Analytics. He has developed courses in data mining and analysis for the University of Arkansas’s totally online college, eVersity, and is an SIIA CODiE Awards judge for Best Data Solution.

Professionals from all areas of higher education institutions have goals of increasing student retention and graduation rates. This workshop focuses on student success programming for at-risk populations such as provisionally admitted students, students on academic probation, students undecided on a major, veteran students, and first-generation college students. Facilitators will discuss programs through the academic year as well as intervention strategies designed to promote students’ learning, development, engagement, persistence, and degree completion. Strategies will be shared on identifying at-risk populations and methods for evaluating success. This presentation will give examples from two universities outlining partnerships between academic/student affairs and institutional research. Participants will complete a self-audit on existing programs at your institution that support at-risk students as well as identify programming gaps, and create an action plan to enhance existing programs and/or create an action plan to implement new programming (based upon gaps).

  • Receive information on student success programs that target at-risk students and review intervention strategies
  • Determine how to identify at-risk students—specific to your particular institutional contexts throughout the academic year including prior to start of courses, at the beginning of the semester, after the first month, at mid-semester, and at the end of the semester
  • Complete a self-audit of current student success programs for at-risk students
  • Identify gaps in your program development for at-risk students
  • Discuss potential collaborations among campus partners in Institutional Research, Student Affairs, and Academic Affairs
  • Create an action plan for implementation of a new program and/or strategies to enhance an existing program
  • Participants will leave this workshop with specific action items to address at-risk students at your institution



Bernadette Jungblut, Ph.D., Central Washington University – Bernadette is Associate Provost for Accreditation, Academic Planning, and Assessment and Associate Professor of Political Science at Central Washington University (CWU). She is responsible for leading CWU’s strategic planning, regional accreditation, and the Division of Academic and Student Life outcomes assessment and program evaluation. She also assists faculty members, academic departments, and colleges with accreditation and new program planning and implementation. She previously served as West Virginia University’s executive director for academic success initiatives and the first-year experience, and university assessment officer. At WVU, in addition to working on regional and specialized accreditation and outcomes assessment, she supported new student orientation, the first-year seminar, early alert and academic probation programming, and programs for freshmen who were conditionally admitted, exploratory, first in the family in college, lower income, and students of color. Jungblut also has experience with TRiO Student Support Services, the McNair Scholars Program, undergraduate research programs, honors college programming, and programs for veterans and veteran dependents.

Donielle Maust, M.P.A., M.S., West Virginia University – Donielle is the Assistant Director of Institutional Research at West Virginia University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. Donielle has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (1998), a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (2000) and Master’s Degree in Safety Management (2003) from West Virginia University. In her current role, she provides decision support to institutional officers and is responsible for daily operational management and supervision of Institutional Research professionals. Previously, she worked at the Job Accommodation Network, a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, as a consultant. She has presented at numerous national and regional conferences.

Regan Swan, M.A., West Virginia University – Regan is the Director of Student Success Programs at West Virginia University. Programs include the Academic Resource Centers (free tutoring), student success coaching, academic probation programs, and academic success workshops. Her goal is to help keep students enrolled at WVU and graduating in a timely manner. A twenty-year employee of WVU, she has worked in both Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Regan received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from WVU.

You have just been named coordinator of student retention at your institution—now what? This session on learning the keys to retention success is back by popular demand. Discover retention strategies that get results at two-year and four-year institutions and learn the best ways to plan for programs by laying the groundwork for success and gaining faculty support.

  • Participants will develop a relevant definition for retention
  • Participants will develop an understanding of a Student Success Relationship Management Model™ and begin to establish an application to their home campuses.
  • Participants will develop an understanding of the principles for retention planning.
  • Participants’ interests will drive discussion for special topics.



Tim Culver, Ph.D., Ruffalo Noel Levitz – Tim leads the retention consulting services of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, offering counsel to help institutions develop, implement, and evaluate plans for improving enrollment, student success, persistence, retention, and degree completion rates. He has expertise in a wide range of areas of enrollment management, including but not limited to retention planning, Title III and Title V grants, enrollment planning, developmental education, and institutional assessments. Dr. Culver has consulted with more than 50 four-year and two-year institutions, including Onondaga Community College (NY); Sul Ross State University (TX); Claflin University (SC); Cardinal Stritch University (WI); Missouri Western State University (MO); Pima Community College (AZ); Neumann University (PA); and Western Texas College (TX). He has worked with numerous campuses to strengthen their retention initiatives through better planning.

When higher education researchers try and make sense of student-related issues on campus, they often overlook a critical source of information—students. During my experience as Executive Director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness, and Planning at a regional liberal arts college in the Southeast, I experienced firsthand the value of including student voices as we worked to identify potential barriers and find solutions. Conversations with students in focus groups allow us to dig into the mechanisms behind the patterns we see in quantitative assessment data. They can also help us gather new evidence and answer questions with more detail and nuance than we might get from a survey. Complementing survey research with more in-depth focus groups can help to triangulate student-based data on campus. Engaging our students to lead survey design, focus group conversations, and presentations of findings can make the conversations even more useful. Through group discussion and planning packets, workshop participants will learn the benefits of this approach, how to create such a program, and the types of projects students can assist with—all without needing outside vendors or resources. Attendees will need minimal experience given the hands-on, experiential design of the workshop.

  • Demonstrate how student-led efforts can improve retention rates by emphasizing a high impact practice that bonds students with the College early in their career
  • Learn how to better leverage available data to improve effectiveness in areas across campus through student efforts
  • Discover how student efforts can equip undergraduate students with research skills applicable to various graduate degree fields and career ventures, including survey design, sampling, focus groups, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and data presentation
  • Show how student-led efforts can conduct detailed studies on areas of importance and focus for the campus and demonstrate the importance of student feedback through public presentations of studies
  • Discuss how to create a student-led effort on your campus



Will Miller, Ph.D., CampusLabs – As Assistant Vice President, Campus Adoption, Will Miller, an unabashed data wonk, leverages data best practices to help campuses make strategic decisions. He joined the Campus Labs team in late 2016, after serving as a faculty member and senior administrator at Flagler College in Florida. There, as Executive Director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness, and Planning, he helped transform the campus-wide outcomes assessment process and worked to introduce predictive academic and retention measures. Before joining Flagler, he held faculty positions at Southeast Missouri State University, Notre Dame College, and Ohio University. He received a Master of Applied Politics from the Ray C. Bliss Institute at The University of Akron, where he also earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Public Affairs.

Are you responsible for developing co-curricular engagement on your campus? Or do you view assessment of key performance indicators as exceedingly burdensome? This highly interactive, hands-on session provides research-based guidelines and practical strategies for examining co-curricular engagement, KPIs, assessment, and research. Working in tandem, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Center for Access and Academic Success and the Division of Student Affairs supports the mission of the university by constructing cross-divisional collaborations on co-curricular engagement that utilizes key performance indicators to measure the impact of co-curricular participation by first- and second- year students and special populations. The presenter will illustrate various types of co-curricular programs and services, discuss limitations, and recommendations for enhancements.

  • Participants will ascertain best practices used to develop and assess co-curricular learning outcomes
  • Participants will have the opportunity to develop co-curricular outcomes and identity appropriate assessment techniques
  • Participants will analyze, select, and apply strategies appropriate for co-curricular engagement assessment of one program or service
  • Participants will develop a draft plan for cultivating co-curricular engagement at their institutions



Angela Williams, Ph.D., University of Maryland-Eastern Shore – Dr. Williams is a dedicated educator and consultant with over sixteen years of experience in higher education. She has a range of expertise in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, which has allowed her to lead and manage academic/student programs, teach and work with a diverse group of students, faculty, and administrators. Dr. Williams is currently serving as the Director of Retention at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where she oversees the Center for Access and Academic Success providing academic programs and services specifically for first- and second-year students. Dr. Williams earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Morgan State University, a Master of Education degree in Counseling with a concentration in Student Affairs from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Southern University and A&M College.

Afternoon Workshops 1:00 – 4:30 pm

Democritus used to say that “he prefers to discover a causality than become a King of Persia”. In Higher Education, we often hear establishing causality is nearly impossible when it comes to measuring retention and completion because there are so many factors that contribute to who stays and who goes. We need to recognize that student success modeling can be a causal question. We are not looking for a prediction of an outcome variable based on the observation of predictor variables. Rather, we are looking to employ specific variables to optimize an outcome variable. Thus, we are performing an intervention, which requires us to perform causal inference. This workshop will provide a practical framework for causal effect estimation of policy interventions for student success with non-experimental data. The methods including Directed acyclic graphs and Bayesian networks will be used. These methods help distinguish causation from association when working with data from observational studies. The workshop revolves around an example of a policy on academic placement on developmental courses. Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops as this is a hands-on workshop. All examples will be conducted using free and open packages in R and will be practiced during the workshop.

  • Learn the basic concepts of graphical models and how they can help us perform causal identification, e.g. using causal assumptions
  • Learn how to identify confounders
  • Learn how to build a Bayesian network that represents a multitude of relationships between all independent variables and the outcome variable
  • Learn how to perform matching on all confounders to establish the causal response of the outcome variable
  • Learn how to examine the (mostly nonlinear) response curves of the outcome variable as a function of the demographic variables



Christos Giannoulis, Ph.D., Florida Institute of Technology – Dr. Giannoulis is a Senior Institutional Research Analyst at Florida Institute of Technology. In his 13-year experience in higher education, he has developed practical frameworks focused on continuous analysis of indicators that maximize the learning experience of students at different levels. In his recent position, Dr. Giannoulis has developed and identified opportunities for improvement in a variety of key performance indicators of institutional research and effectiveness leading to student success.

Participants in this workshop will explore support programs at later stages of the student lifecycle to facilitate retention, progression, and graduation. In the context of the national completion agenda, this workshop addresses special populations and distinct challenges for students closer to degree completion (in the second half of the degree program). A “Completion Toolbox” containing a data-driven suite of programs, policies, and practices to support later-stage retention and completion will be presented. Programs to support students from underrepresented backgrounds; transfer students, veterans or active military; those who return after a stop-out; and those who need to transition to a degree-completion program instead of a traditional major will be highlighted. Participants will engage with one another by sharing their own successful campus initiatives, planning for a future one, and exploring scenarios illustrating this topic. Strategies for campus culture change to support later-stage initiatives for diverse student populations will also be discussed.

  • Learn about the national college completion agenda
  • Examine the need for intentional retention and transition programs at later stages of the student lifecycle
  • Understand obstacles to progress and retention that occur later in the student lifecycle and methods to proactively reduce their risk or provide intervention if necessary
  • Understand diverse student populations and their differentiated needs
  • Examine models to support students returning to college after a stop-out, including outreach to invite them to return
  • Examine models and structures to support students through the transfer process
  • Examine support structures and programs for students who are active military/veterans
  • Learn about identifying and advising students who are not progressing in a degree program
  • Learn about research regarding academic advising and early intervention to lower risk of later problems
  • Learn about successful strategies at participants’ institutions and design a new one
  • Review strategies for campus-wide culture change to support students at later stages of the student lifecycle



Rory McElwee, Ph.D., Rowan University – Dr. McElwee is Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success. Since 2012, Rory has led Student Success offices, services, and programs at Rowan University, including transfer services, degree completion initiatives, first-year experience programs, access admissions programs, academic advising, early alert & intervention, testing, tutoring, and developmental education. Prior to entering administration full-time, she founded Rowan’s Office of Academic Transition Programs to provide a coordinated approach to transition support programs on campus. She was a Psychology professor at Rowan and other institutions from 1995-2012. She has published 15 empirical or scholarly articles and conducted more than 40 conference presentations on topics in pedagogy, student support and development, and personality and social psychology. Rory holds a B.A. in Psychology from Drew University and a Ph.D. in Personality & Social Psychology from Cornell University.

Sean Hendricks, Ed.D., Rowan University – Dr. Hendricks is Director of Academic Transition and Support Programs. In his current position, Sean leads programs pertaining to the first-year and transfer experiences and oversees multiple degree completion initiatives. Sean also held a leadership position in the Office of Admissions at Rowan, where he developed communication plans and strategies allowing Rowan to surpass enrollment goals. Prior to his work at Rowan University, Sean was an elementary health teacher in Carroll County, MD and football coach at Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include student-athletes and expert performance. Sean holds a BS in Health Science from Towson University, M.S. in Educational Administration from McDaniel College, and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Rowan University.

Penny McPherson-Myers, Ed.D., Rowan University – Dr. McPherson-Myers is Associate Vice President for Diversity and Organizational Effectiveness. In her current position Penny leads multiple initiatives to coordinate support services and resources for high school and college first-generation, low-income, underrepresented students through pipeline programs; oversees the Disability and Veterans Affairs services; and addresses students in crisis through the management of the campus food pantry and resource center. In her previous position, Penny was the director of the Educational Opportunity Fund program, a NJ state-funded grant to provide support services and financial aid to first-generation, underrepresented, low-income students for 16 years. Prior to her work in higher education, Penny was the director of a residential treatment facility for adolescent female offenders. Her research interest is underrepresented populations and learning communities. Penny holds a B.A. in Law and Justice, an M.A. in Student Personnel Services and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Rowan University

Escalating expectations for improved student success means schools are counting on professionals in student success more than ever before. Too often, however, bold and creative ideas championed by student success professionals stall and fail to deliver results. Meeting increasing expectations depends on innovative approaches to developing, launching, implementing, and sustaining initiatives. Lasting improvement requires rethinking ways to use university resources and involve colleagues. Participants will learn to apply Bolman and Deal’s four frames as a strategy for fostering collaboration and overcoming obstacles to student success initiatives. This interactive session uses large and small group conversation, individual reflection, and practical exercises to help participants apply the four frames (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic) to creating student success initiatives. This change-leadership workshop is a hands-on, personalized session meant to equip you with leadership skills you can use upon returning to your school. In the afternoon, participants will build a change guide that applies the four frames to the lifecycle of an initiative. Participants will examine their roles in leading student success initiatives, address “stall points,” and practice ways of engaging colleagues. Through applying the four frames to practical examples, participants will build a change plan that achieves results.

  • Learn about Bolman and Deal’s four frames (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic)
  • Apply Bolman and Deal’s four frames to creating a student success initiative that depends on collaboration from individuals across the institution
  • Become knowledgeable about leadership tasks that foster collaboration and the specific actions to take when developing, launching, implementing, and sustaining student success initiatives
  • Develop a list of specific steps that will increase your effectiveness in meeting expectations about student success at her/his institution



Jeffrey Anderson, Ph.D., Saint Leo University – Dr. Anderson is Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. He leads the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which includes assessment, institutional research, and market research. He chairs the university’s SmartGrowth process for identifying promising programs and his office is leading analytical projects that help Saint Leo better support adult students earning degrees online and on ground as well as traditionally-aged students.

While growth in online learning has become a major strategic objective for colleges and universities around the nation, many institutions may struggle with how best to create an infrastructure to support and service their online students. This workshop shares the development of “UCF Online” at the University of Central Florida, and the collaborative approaches taken to create an environment focused on online student access, connection, persistence, and success. Using evidence-based examples, participants will be guided through a process of discovery, with discussions and activities focused around the key areas of: recognizing emerging best practices and methodologies from industry and higher education experts; identifying internal and external partners critical at all stages of development; determining essential business processes and technological systems needed to facilitate operations; and investigating significant points in the undergraduate and graduate student life-cycle in order to develop techniques to meet online students where they are, and to promote their retention and success. At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will have an action plan with various strategies relevant to online student success that they can employ on their own campuses.

  • To discuss key internal and external partners, and to demonstrate the value of collaborative interdependences necessary to create a successful online student environment
  • To build knowledge and awareness of industry standards and methodologies, and how they transcend to higher education practices
  • To present emerging best practices to inform the development of online service delivery models
  • To demonstrate innovative technologies, systems, and processes that foster an environment for online student engagement, connection, and support so as to promote overall retention and success of online students
  • To engage participants into thinking about their own campus needs, and to develop an action plan relevant to the retention and success of their online students



Pam Cavanaugh, Ed.D., University of Central Florida – Dr. Cavanaugh, Associate Vice Provost for the University of Central Florida’s Regional Campuses Administration, oversees academic development, special tuition programs, student success, retention, and advising for ten regional campuses and online students. Dr. Cavanaugh has over 25 years of higher education experience in academic affairs, student affairs, teaching, leadership, and change management with extensive experience in working with DirectConnect to UCF, transfer students, and online services.

Jennifer Sumner, Ph.D., University of Central Florida – Dr. Sumner serves as the Director of the UCF Online Connect Center and Strategic Initiatives for the University of Central Florida’s Regional Campuses Administration. In her role, Dr. Sumner works to extend UCF’s high-quality and exceptional services to online students, and to develop and implement innovative projects and initiatives that benefit regional, transfer, and distance learning students. Dr. Sumner also serves as a co-lead for the University’s institution-wide initiative to create higher levels of transfer-student academic success, persistence, learning, satisfaction, and graduation.

Intergenerational trauma (IT) (Lev-Weisel, 2007) adversely affects students, amplifying feelings of incompatibility/inability to succeed. Stereotype threat (Steele, 2010), invalidation (Rendón, 2009), microaggressions (Solórzano et al., 2000), and effects of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (deGruy, 2005) leave students besieged by messages of inadequacy. Equity-based approaches grounded in critical theory illuminate how IT decreases when student experiences are valued rather than abrogated. Understanding effects of IT on first-generation/underrepresented students (FG/US) serves to generate pedagogies, policies, and practices. Invisible, damaging effects of attending colleges built on plantations, sacred grounds of indigenous peoples, or land that was once Mexico must be respected through interventions and interpretations of inclusive excellence. Equity-based strategies and collectivist principles of storytelling validate traumas students face through intergenerational transmission, resulting in increasing self-efficacy and academic performance (Connolly, 2011; Durham & Webb, 2014; Goodman, 2013). Promoting personal narratives as positive messages supports success through highlighting overlooked abilities to persevere through the unthinkable. Students will present narratives of resiliency/perseverance and validate their sense of efficacy. Participants will develop awareness of IT; review outcomes relating to how critical pedagogies and promoting strengths engages students; and identify strategies/avenues to instigate institutional change to support FG/US while addressing effects of IT on student success.

  • Participants will develop an understanding of intergenerational trauma and its potential impact on college student success
  • Through interactive activities, participants will grasp how personal narratives of resiliency and perseverance validate student capabilities and sense of efficacy through listening to student testimonials/narratives
  • Participants will be exposed to early outcome information relating to how critical pedagogies positively engage first generation and underrepresented students
  • Participants will work with facilitators on how to promote positive characteristics of first generation and underrepresented students
  • Participants will identify strategies to extract avenues for instigating institutional change to support first-generation and underrepresented students while addressing the effects of intergenerational trauma on student success



Gloria Aquino Sosa, Ph.D., LPC-MI, Saint Mary’s College of California – Dr. Sosa, Associate Professor in the Counseling Department, also directs the College Student Services specialization, is Chief Diversity Officer, and is faculty co-Director of the High Potential program. Sosa has over 20 years experience in higher education and clinical mental health settings as an administrator, instructor, counselor, supervisor and consultant, and presents nationally about strengths-based institutional change to support first-generation/low income students, equity, and social justice in counselor education. She holds a license in Professional Counseling (MI). She has co-authored 5 federal and state grants securing over $5.2M for institutions and directed a nationally recognized, award winning student retention program. Sosa provides consultation/training for universities/businesses on topics including self-efficacy as foundational for cultural humility and critical pedagogy. She holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education/Supervision from Oakland University.

Tracy Pascua Dea, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s College of California – Dr. Pascua Dea is the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success. She has 15+ years progressive experience specializing in student success, diversity and inclusion, racial and social justice, career management, and leadership development. Her parents emigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. in the 1970s. She is the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s and advanced degrees in the U.S. The intersection of her multiple identities—first-generation, Filipina American, daughter of immigrants, sister, mother, professional—has often made her feel both a part of something and alone. Tracy has often felt on the margins and invisible even amid all of her successes, setting the stage for her unwavering commitment to support those on the margins and reflecting her commitment to engage with and advocate for the underserved communities.

Everyone is talking Big Data and Data Analytics, but with limited resources, how can you improve your use of small data to shape your student success efforts throughout the student lifecycle? With tighter or diminishing budgets, how can you utilize data to prioritize the work of your student success teams to have the largest impact? Can you demonstrate success to show a return on the institution’s investment or to show a need for more resources? Learn how to measure what matters, when it matters—what data to collect, request, and analyze and for what purposes, including using existing data sets to determine which students may be at-risk before classes even start; using analytics to track students on their pathway to graduation, identify barriers to progress and to identify students who are off-track; collecting the data you need to assess AND improve your efforts; using early, middle and late stage key performance indicators of student success to ensure your efforts are on-track and to let you course correct when necessary; using data to demonstrate short term wins to reduce resistance to change efforts and increase stakeholder buy-in with your programs; and focusing on the intervention strategies that are most efficient and effective.

  • Describe the process of Analytics—asking and answering questions with data
  • Describe the SEM framework for connecting student success to more than just retention, but finding synergies with admissions and marketing
  • Describe the student pathway to graduation and list potential measurable milestones to identify possible barriers to student progress
  • Select and evaluate appropriate early, middle and late stage key performance indicators
  • Identify new and existing sources of data that can be used to assess your programs
  • Discuss types of data analyses and dashboards which can identify target groups for intervention



Loralyn Taylor, Ph.D., Ohio University – Dr. Taylor is Director of Analytics for University Student Success Initiatives and works to bridge the gap between research-based best practices in student success and practical institutional application. Responsible for promoting best-practices in student success through the use of data analytics, behavioral science, innovative technologies and change management, Loralyn consults with diverse stakeholders from across the university’s seven campuses to design student success systems that work for students, faculty and staff. Previously at Paul Smith’s college for ten years, Loralyn helped design and implement the college’s highly successful Comprehensive Student Support Program. Generating over $6 million in increased student revenue in five years, the PSC program includes proactive and reactive early alert strategies, the targeted use of data analytics and was the winner of the 2015 University Business Inaugural Models of Excellence Program, the 2013 Lee Noel, Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award and the Starfish 360 Student Success Award.


Roundtables are new to NSSR this year. Everyone present will contribute to the in-depth discussion in these 90-minute facilitated sessions. They offer a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and, afterward, to explore your shared experiences over lunch.

A Family Affair: Translating the Student Experience Across Student and Academic Affairs
Marguerite Weber, Baltimore City Community College

Collaboration as the Primary Resource: Retention Initiatives on a Shoe String
Deborah Korth and Lisa Summerford, University of Arkansas

Defying the Deficit
Ryan Orcutt and Keeley Adams, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College

Encouraging Faculty to Invest in Retention
Will Miller, Campus Labs

How do Students Define Success?
George Covino, Student Connections

Integrating Advising to Improve Retention, Persistence, and Graduation
Adam Smith, Khadeidra Billingsley and Jonie Threatt, University of Alabama

Student Retention in Career and Technical Education: A Holistic Approach
Diana Johnson and Valerie Turner, St. Louis Community College

Supporting the Minority Male Student
Daniel “JJ” McEachern, Central Piedmont Community College

Tracking Graduate Student Degree Completion
Anne Edmunds, St. Mary’s University