Undergraduate Student Success Team

Undergraduate Student Success Team Final Report

The Undergraduate Student Success Team (USS Team) is a fast-action group formed for Winter 2013 to evaluate campus-wide strategies to enhance undergraduate Persistence, Graduation Rates, and Time to Degree.

The Undergraduate Student Success Team has been called together by EVC Galloway to address two of her Five for 2015 goals, those of increasing persistence and graduation and of reducing time to degree.  Our campus has been making good progress on these goals, and the USS Team will accelerate these efforts.

USS Team Meeting Minutes and Working Documents

Matrix of Success Initiatives and the Critical Success Factors the USS Team is currently reviewing.

USS Team Status Report, Feb 4, 2013 (PowerPoint)


The USS Team will review past reports from UCSC and elsewhere, and determine potential courses of action for significant change.  The USS Team will prioritize actions based on their impact on students, likelihood for success, expense, and time to implementation.

Preliminary discussion about the committee revolves around several key areas:

  • What are the best ways to engage the many campus constituencies in a reexamination of processes and programs that facilitate student success?
  • What existing programs should be reviewed for modification, growth, or elimination?
  • What items with potential impact but low cost may be immediately pursued?
  • What items with high potential impact but significant cost should be prioritized and pursued?
  • What resources are needed?
  • How can the campus can best make available to programs data and evaluation that may catalyze change?


The Undergraduate Student Success Team includes a cross-campus mix of staff, faculty, and administration.  The ideas of the team may be will be published on this web page.  Depending on the nature of the idea, it may be implemented immediately if within the purview of team members, provided to the Academic Senate or appropriate committees for consideration, or be provided to EVC Galloway for consideration and implementation.  Many of the teams initiatives may involve components of all three implementation strategies.

Elizabeth Abrams, Provost, Merrill College, UE and Humanities
Julian Fernald, Director, Institutional Research, P&B
Andrew Fisher, CAFA, Senate and PBSci
Daniel Friedman, CPB, Senate and SocSci
Grant Hartzog, Senator, Senate and PBSci
Tracy Larrabee, CEP, Senate and BSOE
Pablo Reguerin, Executive Director, Retention Services, CL
Stacey Sketo-Rosener, Coordinator, Campus Advising, UE [Read Bio]
Michael Yamauchi-Gleason, Convener, Council of CAOs, BAS  [Read Bio]

Linda Rhoads, Special Projects Manager, EVC's Office
Elise McCandless, EVC's Office
Richard Hughey, VPDUE, UE and BSOE [Read Bio]


The starting point for the USS Team will be ideas and suggestions from prior retention and graduation studies and reports.  Our goal is not to reproduce these studies, but to deliberatively choose ideas and recommendations from prior work that may most effectively fit our current situation.


clip art of graduation cap


Beyond the resources, the team needs input from all constituencies!  You can write comments below or on our USS Team feedback forum to provide your own input.  We will also be working with campus units dedicated to student success, as well as UE's 5 cross-cutting teams, to develop the ideas from which we will work.

  • Advisory Committee Academic Systems
  • First-Year Experience Team
  • Hispanic Serving Institution Team
  • International Recruitment and Graduation Team
  • Transfer Experience Team

Advising, in the broad sense, will be one of the most important inputs to the USS Team.  The Coordinator of Academic Advising has written an overview of advising on campus.

Random Data

The USS Team will be a data-driven team to help ensure high impact.  There are lots of ways of slicing and dicing data.  Here are a few that I found interesting.

Time to degree by major for 2011 graduates. Averages do not tell the full story!  While a major with average TTD of 16.8 quarters is certainly a concern, if there are only 8 students in that major it is not as much of a concern as a major that averages 12.4 quarters with 344 students.  The latter includes 152 excess quarters, while the former has just 34 excess quarters.

Looking at data from the Fall 2005 cohort (2058 in AIS-speak), 5-year grads take twice the Ws as 4-year grads (average of 0.3 vs 0.6 W grades).  The problem with W grades is that some students who may succeed in a class but have low confidence in that success may choose a W rather than taking the final.  The new triple-take rule, which includes W grades as attempts, may help with this issue.

Double majors take 0.6 - 1.0 terms longer to graduate, depending on GPA (0.6 average for those with a GPA of 3.0 or above, and 1.0 for those with lower GPAs).  These data only look at graduates.  More interesting would be to combine this data with that about students who declared a double major and then changed their mind.  Of course, some students pursue a second major or minor without declaring it until graduation, so this would not capture the full effect.

Poor first quarter performance can be an indicator of things to come or problems to address.  Early intervention (within the first few weeks) has been found to help at some instutions, many on a semester system.  Data include a look at enrollment profiles and first-term GPAs (xls, being used by the College Provosts in a discussion of standing review), which serves as a reminder that averages are not the full story; each students' progress is individual.  One question is whether or not students should have a leave after Fall to help get back on track (e.g., in community college) and also avoid accumulating more quarters of debt.  The average first-term performance and progress for the last few entering lower division classes has seen some variation.

Program-level data can be difficult to assemble unless there is a course associated with a specific program.  The use of program-specific tags is not uniform, and so a possible project is the development of what these tags might be.  Program-level data can be a powerful anlysis tool.  For example, in 2011 I took a look at the Spanish for Spanish Speakers (SPSS) program run by the Language Program, now named Spanish for Heritage Speakers (SPHS).  This is a 3-quarter sequence in which students enroll for 1, 2, or 3 quarters.  In a 2005 cohort of students with less then 40 transfer units, the graduation rate (up to the point of pulling the data) among Hispanic students who did not enroll in SPSS was about 67%, while that of students who had enrolled in at least one offering (whether or not compelted) was about 86%.  This analysis led to additional central allocation of resources to the program.

Minutes and Other Documents

USS Sub-Team Meeting 1: Jan 16 2013

USS Sub-Team Meeting 2: Jan 23 2013

USS Sub-Team Meeting 4: Feb 5 2013

USS Sub-Team Meeting 5: Feb 19 2013

USS Full Team Meeting: Mar 5 2013