Data Fellows for Student Success, a California State University Long Beach program that deploys institutional data in innovative and collaborative ways to support student success, was honored by the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum) last Thursday at the group’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Wash.
Brian Jersky, PhD, provost at California State University Long Beach,accepted the Colleague’s Choice Award, given based on peer vote by the Forum for the best academic-leadership program resource reviewed at this year’s meeting. Forum members are provosts or other chief academic leaders at U.S. four-year colleges within the 16-state region encompassed by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the Colorado-based regional higher education agency at which the Forum is based.
“I am honored and delighted to accept this award on behalf of the data fellows and leaders at my institution,” Jersky says. “The program represents the trust we place in our faculty, staff, and administrators to use data intelligently and deeply to promote student success.”
The program was established to empower a wide group of users—including faculty and staff in a broad range of university-wide units—to make more and better use of data and evidence to improve student outcomes. While Cal State Long Beach like most institutions has data-rich pockets, users were not always savvy or interconnected enough to take advantage of the data and ask the right questions.
The Data Fellows program creates a campus-wide group of data superusers who meet twice monthly to share ideas that support data-informed initiatives. In one example, the academic affairs team used data in new ways to identify and incentivize students who could graduate in four years—if they took up to six units during their last summer. The academic affairs team’s data-informed campaign persuaded more than one-third of eligible students to pursue this goal, thereby raising the school’s four-year graduation rate.
“The Data Fellows for Student Success program is a model that could be emulated and adapted to any campus,” says Renny Christopher, vice chancellor for academic affairs at Washington State University Vancouver and chair of the Forum organization. “It provides a powerful means to enhance student success by making it possible for more people to actually make practical use of all the data that each of our institutions is collecting these days. It’s an outstanding addition to the Western Academic Leadership Forum’s Toolkit.
Data Fellows program details will soon be publicly accessible in an online resource known as the Academic Leaders Toolkit, a peer-reviewed repository for shared academic-leadership tools hosted by WICHE.
In receiving this award, this Cal State Long Beach program gains broad recognition among the four-year-college senior academic officials that comprise Alliance membership across WICHE’s 16-state region. Programmatic awards of this nature have been given annually by the Forum since 2011.
About the Forum: The Western Academic Leadership Forum is a membership organization based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Forum members are the chief academic officers of four-year postsecondary institutions and their associated system and state agencies in the WICHE region. Through the Forum, these leaders share perspectives on current issues, work together on regional projects beyond the scope of a single institution or state, and contribute resources and expertise to build a stronger future for higher education in the West.