Academic Futures Open Forum: Student Success

Moderator:      Jeff Cox


Points made and issues raised included:

  1. Campus is understaffed
    1. The percentage of faculty has kept pace with the percentage of new students, but the percentage of staff has declined. 
    2. Campus square footage has grown faster than both faculty and staff – there is not enough staff to adequately manage the square footage, especially in the research areas. 
    3. These situations affect the quality of work that staff can provide to students and faculty – this impacts staff morale as well as student and faculty success.
  2. Campus is too decentralized – impacts ability for students to engage
    1. Campus keeps growing at the edges, which makes it hard for both students and faculty to build communities and engage efforts going on in those areas.  This especially impacts undergraduate research activities.
    2. The decentralization makes it difficult for staff to cover the needs across the entire campus.
  3. Student success
    1. We should invest in an “early alert” system that tracks how students are doing in the classroom.  We need leadership to encourage and incentivize using the system.  We are behind our competition in having this type of technology/culture in place.  These systems are not expensive and save dollars (increases retention) in the long run.
    2. We need to provide impactful opportunities to engage. The current generation of students and future potential staff (millennials) do not feel the need to stay in one school/organization if it does not meet their needs – a lack of engagement means we will lose students and staff and their institutional knowledge.
  4. Culture, decision-making
    1. In many areas, there is a culture that faculty have the only say and staff do not, even when staff have good ideas on how to serve students – staff have to work unnecessarily hard to be heard and to justify their existence.
    2. Staff need to be included in the discussion when making wide-sweeping decisions that impact student success (such as online vs. in-person student orientation) and/or how we work together.  We need a way to find the people who are experts in specific topics and include them in the discussions before decisions are made.  
    3. We need to move from a “mine” culture to a “university first” culture to make both CU and students successful.  There is a lot of waste, inefficiency, and confusion due to our silos.
  5. Staff concerns
    1. There are no career paths for staff.  This leads to low morale and unnecessary attrition.  The current performance evaluation process does not help develop staff for further responsibility or positions, and does not recognize above-and-beyond contributions. 
    2. The performance evaluation process is ineffective and inefficient – why do we have to do it on paper, scan it, print it, send to HR, etc.?
    3. Staff do not feel that that their work is valued, important and appreciated. Even just “saying hello” would go a long way – it doesn’t take a lot of energy or dollars to treat people like people. 
    4. There is a territorial culture in many departments, which has created obstacles to working collaboratively.  This stops our forward progress as we have to spend so much energy trying to get around obstacles.  We can and should be working much more effectively in serving students.