Commitment underlies separate paths to success

Laura Huenneke

By Laura Huenneke, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

In the ongoing quest to transform our institution, it’s good to know that others are demonstrating that success is possible if the commitment and discipline are there.

One thing’s for sure: the host of challenges we face are not ours alone.

At a recent national gathering of provosts from public institutions, I heard plenty of conversation about the impacts of technology and about increasing demand for performance and accountability. I was especially fascinated by reports from institutions that had made the commitment to quality educational impacts on their students: increasing student success, closing achievement gaps across different groups of students, and at the same time focusing on the quality of student learning and educational experiences.

One example was San Diego State, where they have sustained for a decade many of the tactics we are adopting to improve student success. Their commitment to broad sharing of metrics and outcomes has increased retention and graduation significantly, while virtually eliminating differences among student groups.

I was inspired too by the long-time president of the University of Texas, El Paso, Diana Natalicio, who has fostered huge increases in diversity, retention and graduation numbers. UTEP uses grants and private gifts to provide the highest quality education possible, such as undergraduate research and study abroad, while building faculty scholarship and the institution’s research impact.

We are making similar commitments to increasing diversity and student success, while expanding research and the quality of the educational experience. Now we need to follow through with disciplined attention to results, keeping a sharp eye on outcomes and metrics. As one provost commented, we all know what to do; we simply have to keep doing it in a disciplined way.