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University task force formed to examine, better student success

A new task force may be the answer the University has been looking for to improve students’ experience.

The Student Success Task Force (SSTF), established in October, will examine what student success means with the help of eight teams that are each assigned a specific topic, said Director of SSTF Paul Dosal.

“It’s more than just graduation rates,” he said.  “It’s about GPAs and retention rates and improving the entire experience.”

The task force, which is composed of about 100 faculty members, staff and students, will study Student Readiness, Access and Affordability, Instruction, Curriculum, Student Experience, Graduate Experience, Campus and Student Support Services and Policies.

“We have been moving in a positive direction for a while now and we would like that to continue,” Dosal said. “I think at the very least (the task force) will make student success a greater priority. Our first priority is for our students to succeed.”

Political science professor Kiki Caruson, who is on the SSTF team examining instruction, said her team has conducted several focus groups with faculty members and have used them to solicit feedback about the instructional environment like physical buildings and technology used in classrooms.

Caruson said that top-of-the-line facilities like the Marshall Student Center (MSC) are a key component in students having a successful college career.

“The idea is that we’ll be able to identify specific policies to enhance the students’ experience,” Caruson said.

Frank Hernandez, a master’s   student in Latin American studies, is a member of the team tasked with researching Student Readiness.”

“Our research ranges from a one-on-one discussion with someone who had problems in a certain area to looking at statistics,” Hernandez said. “This is the first time I’ve seen on a mass scale the administration trying to reach the student body.”

Hernandez, who is also the director of Student Government’s Department of Diversity and Multicultural Awareness, said a forum called “A Change at Hand: Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges” will be held Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the MSC’s Oval Theater as a compliment to the SSTF.

“The goal is to open a dialogue between students and the administration,” Hernandez said. “We can assess if our concerns are being heard by the administration.”

Dosal said SSTF will make specific policy recommendations in a final report to the Office of the Vice President and the Provost by April 15.