Weigh in on recommendations to boost student success

Student walking into the Undergraduate Success Center

The Undergraduate Success Center in Stevenson Hall is part of the student success planning. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

How can UIC help its students be successful?

More than 200 students, faculty and staff members met regularly last year to tackle that question. Their recommendations, the “Strategic Plan for Increasing Undergraduate Success: Task Force Recommendations,” can be viewed online.

The UIC community can make comments online or at a town hall meeting set for noon to 2 p.m. Friday in Illinois Rooms A and B, Student Center East.

“We want to receive feedback from the campus about those recommendations — maybe there are others who have ideas who can enhance or augment the recommendations, or it may spark other ideas that we should consider,” said Linda Deanna, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students.

All 125 task force recommendations can be viewed online but a summary introduction distills the 1,300-page document into 30 pages, said Bette Bottoms, vice provost for undergraduate affairs, dean of the Honors College and psychology professor.

Bottoms and Deanna oversaw eight task forces charged with finding ways to improve student success in the strategic areas of data analysis and assessment, targeted first-year curriculum, support for student learning, faculty engagement, advising, financing college, campus life and pre-matriculation issues.

The Student Success Plan initiative was launched in 2012 by Lon Kaufman, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Barbara Henley, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“The task forces considered everything we do on campus and came up with evidenced-based recommendations to improve things ranging from the classroom to life in the residence halls,” Bottoms said.

The ultimate goal is to improve UIC’s graduation rate. About 57 percent of UIC students graduate within six years, although most students who graduate do so within five years. There is a focus now on the importance of graduating in four years, Bottoms said.

Graduation rates have been steadily increasing over time, Deanna said. Fifteen years ago, the graduation rate was about 31 percent.

“We’ve been making progress and we’re pleased, but that’s not good enough,” she said.

Some initiatives recommended by the task forces have already been implemented, Bottoms said, such as the Undergraduate Success Center, which opened last spring. Other initiatives that resulted from the planning process include the expansion of early alerts and mid-term grading (faculty report to students and advisers when students are struggling or not attending class) and a data-driven tool that helps advisers work with students to plan successful major pathways.

“At the very beginning of this process, we said if there are wonderful ideas, we wouldn’t wait for implementation,” Bottoms said. “Work has already been started by a variety of people across colleges and other campus units on the improvements.”

Kaufman and Henley will review the feedback provided online and at the town hall, then work with the campus to form an implementation plan, Bottoms said.

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