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Round Two Student Success Recommendations

Published on Mon 12/21/20
Sent on behalf of Dr. Carol A. Fierke, provost & executive vice president and Dr. Mark H. Weichold, interim provost & executive vice president

Dear Colleagues,

The faculty and staff of Texas A&M University remain committed to the success of each and every Aggie. As such, we are pleased to announce the second round of Student Success Initiative recommendations. We are extremely grateful to the members of each subcommittee (Belonging, Climate, and Culture; Regents’ Scholars Program; and Transfer Admissions) for their diligent work and commitment to our land-grant mission. Each subcommittee member and report may be found within the recommendations. We also thank all who attended the virtual open forums in September to provide valuable feedback for the Executive Committee to draft these recommendations.

The Executive Committee considered all recommendations, but focused most intensely on elements that can advance student success in a timely manner. We summarize the round two recommendations below with next steps:
  1. Establish measurable goals and interventions to reduce disparities in student success metrics. – We endorse this recommendation and believe we are obligated to do everything possible for every admitted student to be successful.
  1. Expand affinity-based Hullabaloo U sections as options for incoming students who may seek additional support as they transition to Texas A&M and the local community. – We support this effort that was initially voiced by students and have been most pleased with support from departments and colleges on implementing the common first-year experience.
  1. Increase available need-based aid for undergraduate students by $10M annually using the Available University Fund, tuition, or discretionary funds, and ensure that we can expand well beyond the 750 new Regents’ Scholars selected every year. – We must continue to balance a world-class education with affordability. We have already provided new Regents’ Scholars with an additional $1,000/per year beginning in fall 2020. We are also very pleased with the recent pledge from the Texas A&M University System of an additional $5M annually over the next ten years to support financial aid. We will continue to investigate other ways to provide financial support for our students.
  1. Utilize historical retention data to inform recruiting and intervention strategies. – This recommendation underpins our foundation as a comprehensive research institution that makes sound decisions based on data. To fulfill our commitment to the citizens of Texas, we must continue to hone our recruitment, teaching, and academic intervention strategies to improve outcomes for all Aggies.
  1. Require a high-impact practice beyond the traditional first-year programs for recipients of the Regents’ Scholarship. – While we would readily support any activity that would promote retention of students, we believe this recommendation needs more research to determine possible causes for student stop-outs. We do support a small pilot of the program in willing departments/colleges and in programs supported centrally through the Office for Student Success.
  1. Departments, Colleges, and Admissions collaborate to build a transfer enrollment plan, including capacities and minimum requirements, so that an automatic admission process can be created. More closely align transfer application deadlines with financial aid deadlines, and utilize philanthropy to raise scholarships for transfer students. – We believe that the forthcoming Strategic Enrollment Plan will address enrollment at all levels, including transfer admissions. We strongly endorse this plan. However, the final details on implementation will be determined through discussions between all parties (Council of Deans, Academic Operations, Office of Admissions, and Scholarships and Financial Aid) during the spring 2021 term. The projected start date for implementation is for students arriving in fall 2022. We also encourage the formation of university-wide affiliation agreements with select community colleges.
  1. Research electronic platforms that support transfer student success. – We endorse any effort to recruit more highly talented individuals and believe the first step is creating a centralized website where all information related to transfer admissions can be found.
  1. Improve onboarding of transfer students through Admissions and the Office for Student Success. – We support this effort and have tasked the Office for Student Success to begin discussions with other partners across campus. 

We have already made a great deal of progress on student success since we formally adopted the first set of recommendations in spring 2019. Much has changed since the launch, not the least of which is the COVID-19 pandemic. Like every other unit on campus, Student Success underwent budget cuts. We are pleased that many of the recommendations put forward can be implemented with current or very limited resources.
 

None of the progress would be possible without the tremendous effort of our partners across campus. Only by working together can we achieve the goals outlined and continue to take Texas A&M to new heights. Thank you for your continued partnership and commitment to the university and our students.