Task force charged with student success

Matt Weir / The Collegian file photo

The university plans to meet, and hopes to exceed, the goal of a six percent increase in graduates by 2015, the vice president of student affairs said.

One method implemented by the administration is the Student Success Task Force (SSTF).

The Office of the Chancellor sent down an initiative in January calling for the increase in graduates and a greater representation of underserved students. The initiative also falls in line with President Barack Obama’s charge to make the United States the leader in college graduates by 2020.

The SSTF is made up of faculty, staff, administrators and students.

Provost William Covino, who co-chairs the SSTF with the vice president for student affairs Paul Oliaro, said that the target period will be six years from when students enter the university.

“Part of what the [SSTF] does is talk about the many elements that comprise student success,” Covino said. “However, we all agree that the prime indicator of student success is graduation.”

An academic success course has been added, which is aimed at students who are in academic probation in their first semester.

“We’ll provide them further support in terms of developing study skills, time management skills and other kinds of skills that are conducive to greater success in their courses,” Covino said.

Failure to attend the course would delay those students under probation from registering.

Covino said that the administration and faculty are dedicated to the success of students in a timely manner.

“We certainly want the students to complete their education here in a timely way, so that they can start their careers,” Covino said.

Paul Oliaro told The Collegian in an e-mail interview that his past experience has shown that the mentoring program may be especially helpful to underserved students.

“Success is graduating students, and also preparing them to think critically and have knowledge in their chosen field,” Oliaro said.

He said that the SSTF has continued to grow through the participation of students and faculty.

Oliaro also said that the current combination of general education courses and majors courses that are available to students across all disciplines help students to accomplish that.

“The focus of the plan is the six-year graduation rate, which [will] give students plenty of time to explore their intellectual and career interests,” Oliaro said.

Associated Students Inc. senator Selena Farnesi serves on the SSTF.

Farnesi said that the SSTF wants to create more consistency for students by using milestone advising to develop relationships between advisors and students.

“I think it’s going to be great for the students at Fresno State,” Farnesi said.

A January article of The Collegian reported that the initiative included other efforts: implementation of a student success plan, one on one mentoring between faculty and students, mandatory advising for students in academic probation and faculty-student collaboration on research projects.

A press release from the Office of the Chancellor included an explanation of the initiative from California State University executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer Jeri Echeverria.

“A big part of the challenge is that our student profile is not what most think of as a traditional college student,” Echeverria said. “The average age of our students is 24, about 70 percent of them work, and a third of our students are the first in their family to attend college. All of these factors play a part in the approach that we are taking and our ultimate success in supporting students to achieve their degree.”

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