Strategic Planning

Working Group J: Student Success fall 2013 progress report

Members: Mike Brody (co-chair), Lily Copenagle, Troy Cross, Michael Faletra, Ari Galper '14, Tim Hackenberg, Linda Howard '70, Mary James (co-chair), Danielle Juncal '15, Bryan Kim '14, Aaron Krenkel, Alex Martinez '73, Gerri Ondrizek


The Student Success working group (SSWG) held its inaugural meeting on September 24th. We convened again the following week and have since met biweekly. In our initial meetings we briefly discussed the overall strategic planning process, and subsequently focused on our specific charge, reviewing documents from the Planning Committee and eventually sub-dividing into three groups: “The Big Picture,” “Current Practice” and “Data”.

The groups have worked independently, some meeting more frequently than others. The sub-groups have shared their progress in regularly scheduled SSWG meetings, and each has submitted a preliminary document, the summary of which comprises the remainder of this progress report.


The Big Picture group has attempted to hone the SSWG’s ranging discussions about student success, distilling the larger group’s reflections into a working definition of student success. Because the work of the other sub-groups depends to a certain extent on a definition of student success, we have recently opted to focus the larger group’s efforts on this big picture task in the first week of November. Our goal is to establish a working definition of student success by the time we meet next (11/12/13). The remainder of our work, including input from other working groups and the broader Reed community, will help to hone this definition over the duration of the strategic planning process.

The Current Practice group began by conducting a survey of Student Services resources devoted to supporting student success. In the absence of a well-formed definition for student success, this sub-group has struggled to identify a target for its efforts. As such, the Current Practice group has suspended its work in order to focus on defining student success (as described above). Once the definition is sufficiently anchored, this group will resume its work, with the goal of identifying not only the Student Services resources that ostensibly foster student success, but also the faculty, peer, alumni and parent resources, both extant as well as unexplored, that might enhance student success. This work will be informed by data, and will also likely result in recommendations for further data gathering and analysis.

The Data group is collecting and examining data from the Office of Institutional Research, Student Services, the Registrar’s Office, and the Campus Climate survey, as well as reports generated by Bridgespan consultants, in order to identify metrics that we think are most likely to represent meaningful proxies for student success. This group’s work will help us to develop a plan for collecting, synthesizing and disseminating that data. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be considered.

While goals for the overall working group are not finalized, preliminary goals include:

  • Proposing a definition of student success that will help the community think constructively about ways to improve the academic and non-academic experience for students with myriad backgrounds, interests, and goals for their lives beyond Reed.
  • Providing the community with well-organized and clear quantitative data where available, and proposing useful data to be collected in the future.
  • Identifying elements of the campus culture and climate that support or hinder students in achieving both academic as well as non-academic success.
  • Proposing specific ways in which concerned constituencies (students, staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, and friends of the college) can leverage their current and future efforts to support students in their academic and non-academic growth.
  • Recommending specific goals where appropriate, (possibly including recruitment targets, retention rates, graduation rates, job and internship placement rates, etc.)