Helping Students Choose Luther beyond Their First Year

Recruiting students is part of enrollment. So is retention. As President Ward says, “The days of recruiting students only one time are over. . . . Every Luther student has an opportunity to ‘choose us’ eight times over a traditional timeline at Luther, and the first four semester decision points are the most critical.”

To address this reality and improve retention, Luther recently restructured the way we support students throughout their years here. The new Office of Student Success (OSS), says provost Brad Chamberlain, develops relationships and processes to allow us to seamlessly pass the baton back and forth between the various offices that are critical to supporting Luther students in the classroom and beyond. This approach, he says, “will increase collaboration and decrease friction for students, faculty, and staff alike.”

“We’re trying to work out cross-cutting projects that are difficult when there’s a separate silo for each one,” Chamberlain says. “Now, under this integrated model, together we can say, Here’s the priority. Here’s what we’re going to work on together.

The OSS, led by dean of student success Kate Elliott, gathers under one umbrella the following areas:

  • Academic advising
  • Center for Academic Enrichment
  • Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Disability Services
  • Writing Center
  • TRIO Student Support Services
  • Career Center

Some key initiatives the OSS will implement include:

  • Luther 360, a software system that monitors leading indicators to identify at-risk cohorts and academic struggle. Luther 360 collects early data on student academic performance and empowers collaboration and communication among support teams.
  • the Chase Team, a group of staff who will work with under-registered and non-registered students to identify barriers and institutional roadblocks and help students return to Luther
  • revised financial hold policies so that all students, including those from at-risk populations, can register for their preferred courses
  • a new team-based, proactive, holistic advising model to complement faculty-centered academic advising
  • monitoring academic success rates in gateway (essentially prerequisite) courses, especially those with high proportions of students who receive a grade of D, F, or W (withdrawal). In response, investigating whether to split these courses into smaller classes or to offer extra tutoring, course redesign workshops for faculty, and/or academic success workshops for students.
  • focused academic support for student-athletes, including a new position (coordinator of student-athlete success), academic success workshops to be piloted during fall sports camps, and study tables for all athletic teams
  • reviewing procedures connected to academic warning, probation, and dismissal
  • developing academic recovery programs for students on academic probation
  • refining student exit interviews to better identify common reasons why students withdraw from Luther