Strategic Planning: Academic Student Success

The 2016-2021 Student Success Strategic Plan

What is the Student Success Strategic Plan (SSSP)?

Student success matters to everyone on campus. If our goal is to graduate future citizens who are knowledgeable, thoughtful, and engaged with the world, we must be intentional in how our campus helps students successfully get to that point. Faculty have a key role in student success as they interact with students daily to strengthen skills, build knowledge, and develop mentoring relationships during a student’s time at UM-Dearborn. By understanding and valuing the work being documented in the Student Success Strategic Plan, faculty will have a greater knowledge of the resources available to them and students along with being able to better connect with others on campus to help students succeed.

What can faculty do to help?

Faculty are currently doing wonderful things in and outside the classroom to educate students. The intent of the SSSP is to provide a sustainable institutional-level framework around student success which sets campus-wide goals and provides an intentional and collaborative plan for achieving them. By working through a strategic plan, faculty become more connected to each other and campus stakeholders in working together to help students be successful.

There is no doubt that effective teaching provides students with the knowledge (mastery of discipline content) that is essential for doing well later in their academic career. For example, learning the core disciplinary content in PSYC 101 along with the methodological skills and approaches in one of Psychology’s methods courses, prepares psychology students for their upper-division coursework. As a result, students who start the next stage of their academic career (going from first-year to second year, etc.) are better prepared to succeed.

There are various programs and initiatives on the campus which are designed around best-practice research in the area of student success. These programs and initiatives are part of the SSSP and are intended to help students achieve their academic goals.

For just a few examples, faculty can:

  • join the Hub’s curriculum redesign program where they can participate in a course redesign project

  • take part in the Academic Service Learning Faculty Fellow program and apply to have their courses designated as an Academic Service Learning class

  • attend a Hub workshop to learn about innovative teaching techniques

  • design class or program assessments that inform curricular or pedagogical improvements

  • work with embedded subject librarians to promote research education and information literacy

  • hire and engage students to participate in undergraduate and graduate research

  • learn how to take action on institutional and program level data

  • sign up to use the Library’s experiential classroom

  • lead a study abroad trip

Faculty-student interactions are the most important aspects of student success. There is scholarly support for the idea that student interactions with faculty are “positively related to persistence and graduation” (Pascarella and Terenzini 2005). There is also a school of research that focuses on student-faculty interactions outside the classroom and how such interactions are associated with positive-learning outcomes around cognitive growth, sociopolitical attitudes, career development, and persistence and degree completion.

Faculty can also guide students towards the initiatives in the SSSP that are aimed at supporting student success both in and out of the classroom. Opportunities like FastFOURward, that includes a $300-500 tuition scholarship, or on campus resources like Supplemental Instruction or any of the four learning centers, are key components of the SSSP and student success at UM-Dearborn. Some of the other resources directed at students include StemSTART, START & college advising offices, tutoring, and the Mardigian Library.

The Process Used to Create the Student Success Strategic Plan

The first step was to measure and compare the university’s operations, practices, and performance to its desired outcomes. Next – when feasible – the Provost Office measured and compared its operations, practices, and performance against its peer institutions. Benchmarking better enables the university to determine reference points for goal and target setting. The third step was to determine strategic goals, based on our mission and vision, and develop tactics for carrying them into effect.

The fourth step requires the Provost Office to perform periodic evaluations of its goals and strategies to measure its performance. Such reviews should be performed at least on an annual basis to evaluate the effect of specific actions on long-term goals.

Finally, the Provost Office assesses the Student Success Strategic Plan in order to make any needed changes and adjust its course based on assessment results. Any revised plan must take into consideration emerging strategies and changes that affect the university’s intended mission to deepen academic excellence and student engagement.

The Implementation Framework

The Provost Office Student Success Strategic Plan sets an ambitious, but achievable, set of goals for the next five years. The implementation framework includes:

  • Strategic goals: the broad-based objectives that provide a foundation for achieving student success on campus.
  • Tactic(s): the focused plans and actions that will be used to achieve all or parts of the strategic goal.
  • Measure(s) and Timing: the specific measureable elements that detail how the goals will be achieved, typically through performance indicators or other measures that provide a definable target for achievement.
  • Status: An indicator, based on periodic evaluations, which will provide a general assessment of the status of the plans and actions taken to achieve the overall strategic goals.

To sustain our commitments to academic excellence and student engagement, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has identified strategic goals to:

  1. Enhance overall tracking, collection, and dissemination of student data 
  2. Enhance student participation in, and experience of, high-impact educational practices (HIEPs)
  3. Provide focused interventions for First Time in Any College (FTIAC) and transfer students 
  4. Advance retention and graduation rates 
  5. Enhance Graduate Student Success

These strategic goals will guide the work of the Provost Office for the next five years.

The Overall Objectives

By 2021, achieve a consistent:

  • First-to-second year retention rate above 84%
  • Four-year graduation rate for FTIAC students above 25%
  • Six-year graduation rate for FTIAC students above 60%
  • Second-year graduation rate for transfer students above 15%
  • Four-year graduation rate for transfer students above 55%
  • Six-year graduation rate for transfer students above 65%


To view the historical retention and graduation rate numbers of our FTIAC and transfer students please view the Graduation and Retention Rates Dashboard


Student Success Strategic Planning Members
  • Mitchel Sollenberger
  • Jessica LaGrange
  • Andrew Beverly
  • Carla Vecchiola
  • Gail Luera
  • Ghassan Kridli
  • Kelsey Parker
  • Maureen Linker
  • Patrick Beauchesne
  • Scott Riggs
  • Urana Pridemore
  • McKenna Maurino

Academic Year 2016-2020 Accomplishments 

                                      Goals Tactics Achieved    Tactics in progress Tactics not achieved
1. Enhance overall tracking, collection, and dissemination of student data 14 of 21, 67%

4 of 21, 19%

3 of 21, 14%
2. Enhance student participation in, and experience of high impact educational practices (HIEPs) 14 of 23, 61% 4 of 23, 17% 5 of 23, 22%
3. Provide focused interventions for FTIAC and transfer students 12 of 20, 60% 3 of 20, 15% 5 of 20, 27%
4. Advance retention and graduation rates 18 of 25, 72% 4 of 25, 16% 3 of 25, 12%
5. Enhance Graduate Student Success 11 of 17, 65% 5 of 17, 29% 1 of 17, 6%


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