The 2023 Program Details will be available soon. The information on this page is from 2022, to be used as a reference.

Program Details

The National Symposium on Student Retention will take place Monday, October 24 through Thursday, October 27 in San Diego, California.

View the Conference Program

Tentative Schedule

Monday, October 24, 2022
  • 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
    Pre-conference Workshops (additional fees required)
  • 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
    Welcome Reception


Tuesday, October 25, 2022
  • 7:00 am – 4:30 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:00 am – 8:30 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:30 am – 10:00 am
    Plenary Session
  • 10:15 am – 12:30 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 2:00 pm – 4:15 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 4:15 pm – 5:00 pm
    Exhibitor Visits
  • 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm


Wednesday, October 26, 2022
  • 7:00 am – 4:30 pm
    On-site Registration
  • 7:00 am – 8:30 am
    Morning Refreshments
  • 8:30 am – 10:00 am
    Plenary Session
  • 10:15 am – 12:30 pm
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
    Lunch on your own
  • 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
    Concurrent Session
  • 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm
    Poster Session
  • 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm


Thursday, October 27, 2022
  • 8:00 am – 9:00 am
    Best Practices Awards Breakfast
  • 9:00 am – 11:30 am
    On-site Registration
  • 9:15 am – 11:30 am
    Concurrent Sessions
  • 11:30 am 
    Conference Adjourns


#NSSR2022 Conference Program

The full program will be made available at the conference. A detailed schedule will be available in August.

Monday Welcome Reception

Please join us for hors d’oeuvres on Monday after the pre-conference workshops. Relax and get to know your colleagues or reconnect with the ones you met in a previous year. The welcome reception is open to everyone and is included with your conference registration. You are welcome to bring guests, please see the registration page for cost. Cash bar.

Concurrent Sessions

Tuesday through Thursday authors of peer-reviewed papers will present on issues important to higher education professionals. We’ll also have Facilitated Discussions, Coffee Talks, and Tutorials throughout the week. A few of the topics include:

    • Holistic withdrawal process
    • Data analytics and student success
    • Peer coaching
    • Academic advising
    • Low-income student outcomes


Join us at the end of Tuesday and Wednesday’s sessions to relax and enjoy time with your colleagues before dinner. Drinks will be on your own. More details to come.

    Poster Session

    Join us on Wednesday to visit with poster presenters about their research and strategies for helping their students succeed. The exhibit hall format offers a great opportunity for networking with your colleagues.

    Keynote Speakers

    Tuesday Keynote – Dr. Archie P. Cubarrubia
    Dr. Archie P. Cubarrubia

    Dr. Archie P. Cubarrubia serves as Deputy Director, Institutional Transformation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He leads the team responsible for understanding how colleges and universities transform themselves to dramatically improve their performance and eliminate race and income as predictors of student success.

    Archie has worked to improve student success and institutional effectiveness for over two decades and from multiple vantage points—from institutional leadership to federal policymaking to state policy advocacy. A lifelong student advocate and national expert on postsecondary policy, programs, and data, he has held leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Education, Miami Dade College, Northern Arizona University, the University of Rhode Island, Boston University, and Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust.

    He earned his bachelor’s degree in health studies and a Master of Education in policy, planning, and administration from Boston University and his doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University.

    Institutional Transformation for Equitable Student Success

    Institutional transformation is no longer a “nice to do”; it’s a “must do.” Amid a global pandemic and renewed calls for racial justice, colleges and universities have an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility to accelerate their transformation and better deliver on their promise—and especially for racially minoritized students and students from low-income backgrounds. In this session, Dr. Archie P. Cubarrubia will share findings from over a decade of investments by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in learning about how colleges and universities transform themselves for more equitable student success. From Completion by Design (, Frontier Set (, and other initiatives, this session will highlight key insights about how institutions are realigning their structures, cultures, and business models to create student experiences that result in dramatic and equitable increases in outcomes and educational value.


    Wednesday Keynote – Dr. Tia Brown McNair
    Dr. Tia Brown McNair

    Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices, and student success.

    McNair directs AAC&U’s Summer Institutes on High-Impact Practices and Student Success, and TRHT Campus Centers and serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives. She is the lead author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (January 2020) and Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016).

    In March 2020, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named McNair one of thirty-five outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges and made a positive difference in their communities.

    Am I a Student-Ready Leader? Vision, Purpose, and Practice for Student Success

    What are promising strategies for designing and leading student success and retention efforts that are guided by the question “What does it mean to be a student-ready leader?” How do we promote a shared vision with defined purpose that translates into practices that are relevant, transparent, and effective for our students who represent a diversity of identities? Through a discussion of key principles from the second edition of Becoming a Student-Ready College, audience members will identify key steps for examining and for establishing equity-centered goals that support student engagement, retention, and success.


    Pre-Conference Workshops  Monday, October 24 – Optional, with an additional fee

    Afternoon Workshops  1:00 – 4:30 pm

    Marshall University has gone from having no strategic plan for student success to successfully launching both a plan and over a dozen aligned initiatives. This work has included the adoption of a risk analysis survey 23 times more predictive than high school GPA (the Marshall University Student Success Forecasting Model [SSFM]). This model combines cognitive and non-cognitive measures that allow us to create targeted and scalable interventions and begin deployment of those interventions before students attend orientation. The newest of these interventions was a complete reconceptualization of our required First Year Seminar (FYS) course. This course was rebuilt in our Center for Teaching and Learning by faculty via a faculty learning community and is based on the results of our SSFM. Early results have been particularly promising for what has been commonly thought of as our most at risk populations. This workshop will focus on how we use the information derived from the SSFM in conjunction with an array of stakeholders to create or reconceptualize interventions. Participants will learn about our approach to FYS and several other successful initiatives and how the crucial focus on experimental design has led to actionable, scalable, and measurable results.


    In this session, participants will learn about…

    • …a variety of persistence and completion initiatives at Marshall University
    • …using cognitive and non-cognitive risk analytics to shape faculty-led efforts in designing curricular interventions for students
    • …aligning the outcomes of risk analytics with the development, implementation, and assessment of new First Year Seminar (FYS) courses.
    • …using an experimental design to discover actionable, scalable, and measurable results



    April Fugett, Ph.D., Marshall University – April Fugett is the Coordinator for Student Success Data Analytics, the Interim Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and a Professor of Psychology at Marshall University. She has extensive experience in both faculty development and presenting research and analyses to various faculty, staff, and administrative stakeholders. In addition to her work in AA and CTL, she has taught advanced research methodology and advanced statistics; and she has several publications and over 80 research and teaching presentations spanning a wide variety of topics, including advanced statistical analyses and student retention and completion initiatives.

    Karen L. McComas, Ed.D., CCC-S/A, Marshall University – Karen L. McComas is the Interim Associate Vice-President and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and a Professor in the department of Communication Disorders at Marshall University. McComas has led efforts to shape the institution’s approach to professional development for non-tenure track faculty; pre-tenured faculty; mid-career, tenured faculty; and post-tenure, senior faculty. Simultaneously, these efforts are focused on promoting student success and achieving curricular outcomes at the course, program, and institutional level. McComas is an experienced facilitator, and has led countless workshops and presentations, including week-long, multi-day, single day, and smaller events.

    Predictive analytics are often discussed as having the potential to impact institutional student success outcomes. However, access to these models is often cost prohibitive and/or requires significant investment to implement. Additionally, when a model is available, questions about how to use it’s predictions to optimizes student outcomes still remain. This session will outline how using institutional data and in-house expertise provided a cost-effective institutional predictive analytic model to identify students who are at risk of not persisting to their sophomore year. How this tool has been used to create connections between identified enrollment risk students and targeted interventions will be detailed. Then, facilitators will lead attendees through a series of questions that will guide them to developing strategies to bring these approaches back to their campuses. Specific areas addressed during the discussion will be creation of a low investment institutional specific model, using the model for recruitment of enrollment-risk students for target intervention programs, and using the data for measuring impact of programs or services. The workshop will provide both tangible examples of how to develop and use predictive analytics as well as an opportunity for participants to share and discuss the feasibility of these approaches on their own campus.

    • Understand both the data elements and partnerships needed to build a low-cost predictive analytic model
    • Build a repertoire of uses for using the predictive analytic model to design interventions and measure success
    • Develop a strategy to implement a predictive analytic model or increase use of an extant model on campus



    Amy Salazar, Ed.D., University of Alabama – Amy Salazar serves as the Executive Director of Student Success at The University of Alabama where she is charged with maximizing the academic and personal success of all undergraduates but is highly passionate about intentionally transforming the experience of historically marginalized student populations at the institution. She specializes in developing targeted programs to increase the retention and success of freshman and transfer students. She has also successfully implemented several university-wide completion initiatives with an emphasis on improving graduation rates among Pell-eligible students. She has published on undergraduate research, living-learning communities, and mentoring, but her current research/practice interests focus on first generation, low-income, and transfer student populations due to their potential for impacting educational equity.

    Timothy Salazar, Ph.D., University of Alabama – Timothy Salazar is the Director of Data and Analytics at The University of Alabama. In his role, he acts as a consultant for all department throughout the College of Continuing Studies. Previously He has served as the Director of Assessment and Planning in Division of Student Life at The University of Alabama. He specializes in using data to seek improvement in organizational efficiency and effectiveness. His interests lie in big data and how data can improve the student experience with an emphasis on how programs impact underrepresented groups. He has nearly 15 years of experience in analyzing programs and policy to seek improvement in key performance measures. Prior to coming to The University of Alabama he worked in the Department of Student Life Studies at Texas A&M University and for the Utah State Legislative Auditor General’s Office. He has presented his research and findings at numerous national and regional conferences.

    In fall 2019, Coastal Carolina University (CCU) took a multifaceted approach to launching their university-wide early alert system. During a pilot semester, they developed a formal alert process, which included an alert timeline, training for faculty/staff, and strategies for faculty support. Math faculty were selected to participate in the pilot. Three indicators were selected for them to submit alerts: 1) students recorded absent for 3 consecutive classes; 2) students earning less than 60% on Test 1, and 3) students earning less than 60% on Test 2. Three distinct groups intervened on alerts: academic coaches, professional advisors, and faculty. Results showed consistent interventions from academic coaches, and students who participated in academic coaching were significantly more likely to pass their math course. Based on outcomes from the pilot, CCU transitioned from midterm grades (Week 8) to interim grades (Week 5) during spring 2020. With automated interim grade alerts, a campus wide implementation, and additional faculty alert submissions outside core courses, CCU experienced a 25% increase in alerts from spring 2021 to spring 2022. Based on this increase in alerts and early alert system best practices, CCU determined that alerts needed to be centralized to one area and managed by one position.

    • Better understand differences between advisor and academic coaching specialist roles
    • Develop strategies for engaging faculty in the early alert process
    • Learn to use alert information to identify trends and develop proactive support measures
    • Gain better understanding of the impact of policy on an early alert system
    • Understanding a multi-faceted approach to creating a successful early alert program
    • Learn to utilize early alert trends to inform curriculum development
    • Discover how to begin developing a plan for your campus early alert system



    Daphne Holland, Ph.D., Coastal Carolina University – Daphne Holland earned her PhD from Clemson University in Higher Education Administration and Master of Arts in English Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Since she began her role at CCU, created the Coastal Student Success Center, to include the Academic Coaching Department. She played a significant role in the development of CCU’s academic recovery program and recently was awarded the 2021 CSRDE Best Practices in Student Retention award for co-authoring the paper, A Case Study for the Successful Development and Assessment of a University-Wide Academic Recovery Program for First-Year Students.

    Alexa Cecil, Ph.D., Coastal Carolina University – Alexa Cecil is an Academic Coaching Specialist at Coastal Carolina University. In this role, she works with students in the Student Opportunity for Academic Recovery program through 1-1 academic coaching appointments and in the classroom as an instructor of the academic skills development course. She also teaches First-Year Experience. Alexa has utilized the early alert system since its inception at CCU and currently manages multiple student caseloads, which includes conducting student outreach for alerts. Alexa recently earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education from West Virginia University.

    Jessica Fokken, Ph.D., Coastal Carolina University – Jessica Fokken is the Director of the Academic Coaching Experience Department at Coastal Carolina University. In her role at CCU, she helps to administer the Early Alert System and the Student Opportunity for Academic Recovery program for freshmen. As a part of the Early Alert System leadership team, she helps with faculty/staff training and collaborating with campus partners on the system. She teaches the academic strategy course that is a part of the academic recovery program, first-year experience, and Composition I and II. She earned her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.

    Stephanie Jagannathan, Coastal Carolina University – Stephanie Jagannathan is the Associate Director for Data Analytics & Institutional Research in Institutional Research, Assessment and Analysis at Coastal Carolina University, where she focuses on projects to support student retention and success. In her role, she collaborates with faculty and staff campus-wide to provide data-driven insights. Over the last few years, her focus has been on implementing an early alert system to help facilitate the flow of information between the classroom and student support services. In addition to teaching a course central to the early alert system, she has developed and led training sessions for faculty and staff.