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Columbus State University Campus Plan Update 2022

Section 1. Institutional Mission and Student Body Profile

Columbus State University (CSU) is a public (state-supported) institution that offers 133 programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels. Many degrees are conferred in professional areas at both undergraduate and graduate levels in response to student demand and service area needs. Due to the nature of Complete College Georgia, this report only concerns our undergraduate degree programs and primarily focuses on efforts and strategies aimed at student success that align with our Momentum Approach Implementation Plan and Calendar. 

Institutional Mission

While CSU’s vision is to “provide world-class education and assure student success through creative inquiry and community, regional, and global partnerships,” its mission is

  • “To achieve academic excellence through teaching, research, creative inquiry and student engagement.
  • To achieve excellence in the student experience and prepare individuals for a life of success, leadership, and responsibility through community awareness, engagement, and service to others.
  • To achieve recognition as a leader in community development, regional economic development, and public-private partnerships.”

The institutional focus on excellence in teaching and research as well as the emphasis on creative inquiry and student engagement influences the key priorities of the college completion work that CSU has undertaken. The university financially supports student research and creative inquiry projects facilitated by faculty mentors. It further celebrates student research and creative innovation through its annual Tower Day conference, usually held in April. In addition, CSU has a strong commitment to student experience for it has provided significant leadership in meeting the needs of the community, the region, and the state through endeavors such as Dual Enrollment, service to military-affiliated students, Embark on Education (for homeless and foster youths), BOOST (childcare reimbursement program), and the development of high-quality online programs and services that allow students to decrease time to completion regardless of their geographic location and to continue their higher education in the age of COVID-19. Through its many service-oriented opportunities on campus and in the community, its local and regional internships, its study away courses, and its study abroad experiences, CSU excels in its mission to “achieve recognition as a leader in community development, regional economic development, and public-private partnerships” as well as its global imprint on the hearts and minds of students.  

Student Body Profile

The University System of Georgia (USG) designates CSU as one of the three “access” institutions within the state because no State Colleges in the USG are located within the geographic service area. The service area of Columbus State University is defined as these Georgia counties: Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Meriwether, Muscogee, Stewart, Talbot, Taylor, and Troup. In Fall 2022, 50.6% of the new student population was drawn from these counties. A breakdown of demographics for FYFT freshmen (such as 60.5% Pell recipient, 27.6% first-generation, 41.9% African American, etc.) is shown in Appendix I: CSU Demographics of FYFT Students (2022). 

In a typical year, Columbus State University utilizes moderately selective admissions standards and processes for most applicants (high school grade point average of 2.5 and SAT minimum scores of 440 Critical Reading and 410 Math or ACT English 17/Math 17). In the past, modified standards were utilized for applicants within the local service area in accordance with the University System of Georgia-mandated local access mission (high school grade point average of 2.0 and SAT minimum scores of 330 Critical Reading and 310 Math or ACT English 12/Math 14).

However, due to the pandemic, CSU has temporarily revised requirements for all high school applicants to the University System of Georgia minimum requirements of high school GPA for state universities and not requiring ACT or SAT scores as entrance requirements. As a result, CSU ADVISE has created an extensive intentional advising plan that targets students identified as high-risk. Learning Support Services are also essential to support academic and integrative needs of this population group. These efforts are to foster retention, progression, and graduation rates and are supported by our Strengthening Institutional Partnerships (SIP) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. See Appendix II for Summary of Activities and Measures of Success for CSU ADVISE Intentional Activity Plan.

While CSU takes pride in its role as an access institution, this role presents challenges in retention and student success. Nonetheless, due to CSU best practices, retention and graduation rates had increased overall in the last eight years, until COVID-19 hit in 2020. The overall CSU retention rates, 2012-2020, for first-time full-time (FTFT) freshmen had increased from 66.2% to 74.9%, yielding an increase of 8.7% over eight years. Unfortunately, the FTFT retention rate for the 2020 cohort dipped to 59.4%, probably a result of a combination of factors, such as lower COVID admission standards, student fatigue with the continued impact of the global pandemic, student difficulty with online learning, and an increase in students who temporarily stayed home but who have now transferred out to their intended college. Fortunately, the 2021 cohort retention rate is 65.7%, an increase of 6.3% in one year.

However, even as the retention rate has decreased overall, the 6-year institutional graduation rate has risen from 32.3% to 44.0%, an increase of 11.7%. See pages 11-12 for details concerning our graduation rate and our dedication to 15-to-Finish. 

For its 2022 CCG Campus Plan Update, CSU focused primarily (Section 2.1) on three activities/projects developed in Part 1 of the Momentum Summit V report, activities/projects that emphasize student success:

  • Structuring at least 3 HIPS into each baccalaureate program, beginning with 10 programs.
  • Encouraging a growth mindset in students.
  • Enhancing the co-curricular experience.

CSU also chose to include several optional sections because of important updates and/or scalable applications.

Section 2.1: Student Success Activities/Projects

Here are our priority activities/projects relating to student success.


Activity/Project Name

Structuring at least 3 HIPs into each baccalaureate program.

Momentum Area
(select all that apply)

X Purpose

X Pathways


Change Management

Data & Communications

Activity/Project Overview or Description (what this is?)

CSU plans to promote High Impact Practices (HIPs) by making them a structural part of every four-year program. The goal is for each student to have at least three HIPs before graduating with a four-year degree. 

Activity/Project Activity Status (where is this in process? E.g., studying, initiating, piloting, scaling, maintaining, retiring, etc.)

CSU has involved a number of groups across campus in the effort to make HIPs a familiar part of our pedagogy. On the particular effort to build three HIPs into each program, we are at the initiating stage. So far, the following activities are complete or in process:

  • Survey of faculty on how they use 4 key HIPs now (survey complete with 95 responding). (complete)
  • Develop a CougarVIEW page (Spring 2023) for the Faculty Center. The page will have a module designed to help faculty identify which HIPs work best for their discipline and to advise them on how to implement HIPS in the classroom. (in process)
  • Group of STEM faculty attended AAC&U Workshop and created an action plan. (workshop complete, action plan in process) 
  • Group of faculty attended CUR Summer Institute and implemented new ideas in Tower Day. (complete)
  • CeTL conducted survey of faculty to identify key elements of HIPs for faculty development and series topics in AY 21-22. (complete)
  • Group of faculty (HIPsters) developed recommendations to encourage HIP based pedagogy, including faculty development through MomentumU, identifying HIPs in use, and identify HIPs milestones in program maps. (ongoing)
  • The HIPsters developed a “High Impact Practices at CSU” Google site ( to educate faculty about HIPs and their essential elements.
  • Meeting called to bring together three groups of faculty and others working on HIPs and create a central action plan to achieve the goal of including three HIPs in every baccalaureate program and perhaps branding the HIPs program. (pending)
  • The Director of the Faculty Center developed a Google form that faculty can use to recognize “High Impact Heroes” (  to help celebrate faculty achievements and broaden awareness of HIPs work already taking place.

Evaluation/Assessment plan (Key Performance Indicators, assessment plan, anticipated time period, reporting and review) 

Evaluation Plan and measures: CSU identified four HIPS for an initial survey of faculty practices and the extent to which faculty incorporate 8 key elements into any of these four HIPs:  

  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Undergraduate Research 
  • Diversity/Global Learning, including internships, study abroad, study away, and experiential learning 

At least initially, these four HIPs will be the focus of incorporating HIPs into programs. 

Baseline measure: Currently, no program requires a set of HIPs (branded as HIPs per se), though many programs have HIPs built in. For the purpose of a baseline measure, the number is zero. We are also encouraging faculty to complete The Elements of HIPs for Faculty in Momentum U. That could become a key indicator of faculty buy-in. 

Goal or targets: 

  • Develop a HIPs central action plan (from the various action plans that exist now).
  • Have at least 10 programs, as a pilot, publish or otherwise put into effect a three-HIP sequence.
  • Discuss with departments how each program might include a total of 3 HIPs or more (counting HIPs students might get in Gen Ed).
  • Scale up the HIPs program to include all baccalaureate programs.

Time period/duration: 

  • Develop HIPs central action plan before the end of Spring Semester 2022.  (Done)
  • Identify 10 programs to implement a pilot during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Begin discussion during the 2022-23 academic year with departments on how their programs can benefit from adding 3 HIPs.
  • Scale up to all programs starting in the 2023-24 academic year.

Progress and Adjustments
(what has been accomplished and what changes do you feel you need to make)

See Project Activity above. A great deal of work has been accomplished by faculty and staff in a variety of fields across campus; this includes collecting survey results, educating faculty about HIPs, beginning some pilots at the program level, and generating action plans in specific areas. At this point, what is needed is a central action plan that may include curriculum changes, program map revisions, Smart Guidance programming, and other actions needed. See Appendix III: Smart Guidance Intake Survey Questions.

Plan for the year ahead
(What steps will you be taking in 2022)

In 2022, building on work already accomplished, we will focus on these steps:

  1. Bring the various groups involved in HIPs together to develop a central action plan (Spring 22).
  2. Identify 10 programs for piloting (Fall 22).
  3. Begin discussions on how departments can add 3 or more HIPs to their programs (Fall 22).

Once we have assessed the inputs of the first 10 pilot programs, we hope to review outcomes—either student course outcomes and retention in the major, or student satisfaction and engagement measures—to assess both the impact of the HIPS on the students’ outcomes and the “fit” of the HIPS to the program.

To encourage the creation and implementation of HIPs in courses, CSU has established a Teaching and Learning External Development Grant that reinforces CSU’s Strategic Development Goals:

  • 1.1.2 Provide faculty development in support of high-impact practices and active learning strategies.
  • 3.2.4 Provide faculty and staff development opportunities for high-impact, experiential learning practices.

We were also considering redesigning core curriculum courses to include a high impact practice so that the default for students is to encounter the HIP as a function of completing the core. Unfortunately, caps in survey courses have increased across the university, and faculty are finding it difficult to use HIPs because of increased class sizes, the capacity limitations of class spaces, and reduced planning time due to the increased time grading.

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution (e.g., the System Office or other institutions) to be successful?

A conspicuous energy and enthusiasm exist among several groups of faculty for including HIPs in programs. Consequently, finding 10 programs to run pilots won’t present a big challenge. Scaling up to 100% is a different proposition and may involve discussions related to workload, course caps, training, etc. The training offered through Momentum U is very helpful. 

Project Lead/point of contact

Pat McHenry, Interim Provost, Academic Affairs; Bryan Banks, Interim Director, CeTL


Activity/Project Name

Encouraging a growth mindset in students.

Momentum Area
(select all that apply)



X Mindset

Change Management

Data & Communications

Activity/Project Overview or Description (what this is?)

Academic mindsets are the attitudes or beliefs one has about oneself in relation to coursework. The four academic mindsets involve the sense that students belong to an academic community, the sense that (with effort) their ability and competence can grow, the sense that they can succeed, and the sense that the academic work has value to them. In short, the four academic mindsets involve the sense of belonging, improving, success, and value. This initiative is to promote and encourage growth mindsets in students and in faculty.

Activity/Project Activity Status (where is this in process? E.g., studying, initiating, piloting, scaling, maintaining, retiring, etc.)

Activity is ongoing. CSU ADVISE, FYE, and the Academic Center for Tutoring provide advising, academic tutoring and coaching, and peer mentoring. SIP grant (Strengthening Institutional Programs) provides funding for services to students on University Support Status, students not making Satisfactory Academic Progress (USAP), and transfer students. All peer tutors and coaches have been trained through the National Center for Developmental Education (NCDE) on techniques to encourage a growth mindset in students.

To instill a sense of belonging and improving, CSU has held an annual Freshman Convocation (Main Campus and RiverPark Campus) since 2016. Beginning in 2022, CSU is now also holding Senior Convocation (Main Campus and RiverPark Campus) to emphasize the mindsets of success and value as students complete graduation requirements and embark on their careers or graduate school.

Evaluation/Assessment plan (Key Performance Indicators, assessment plan, anticipated time period, reporting and review) 

Evaluation Plan and measures: CSU continues to administer the Mindset survey and submits annual SIP grant reports to USDOE. 

Baseline measure: Beginning in 2018, the Mindset survey has aided CSU in noting and developing mindsets of freshmen and transfer students. 

Goal or targets: Extend survey to include all students, especially upper division students so growth can be more accurately measured, not just in the freshman year but throughout the undergraduate experience. 

Time period/duration: Every semester; ongoing.

Progress and Adjustments
(what has been accomplished and what changes do you feel you need to make)

Over the years, CSU has shown its flexibility in adapting to change in evaluating and serving students concerning Mindset. For example, in 2017, the First Year Experience (FYE) program and CSU ADVISE were awarded a three-million dollar Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant from USDOE, which supports a cohort of academic coaches and peer mentors, a Learning Support Resource Center, and consulting from nationally recognized experts. These services are aligned with instilling Growth Mindsets in students who can most benefit from it. See Appendix II for details on SIP.

Since 2018, CSU’s Faculty Center has scaled up the discussion about Mindsets among faculty by offering workshops every semester, thereby encouraging discussion of the topic during its new faculty orientation series, offering book circles on the topic and offering forums for faculty, staff, and administrators to develop practices to help students see academic difficulties and challenges as opportunities for growth. 

In Fall 2019, the National Center for Developmental Education (NCDE) provided CSU’s Learning Support group along with CSU ADVISE’s SIP grant with growth mindset-based metacognitive training modules for its academic coaches and peer mentors.  In Fall 2020, the NCDE provided virtual training on encouraging growth mindsets and self-efficacy.

In Fall 2021, NCDE training was extended to Peer Instruction Leaders (PILs), who implement a modified version of Supplemental Instruction in courses strategically targeted for improvement of course completion rates. As a result, the academic coaches, peer mentors, and PILs learned to implement techniques and strategies to help the students they serve to better understand and adjust their academic mindsets. 

Additionally, CSU ADVISE has begun offering Growth Mindset focused student workshops geared towards incoming freshmen, but available to all students. 

Plan for the year ahead
(What steps will you be taking in 2022)

Continue administering the survey to students and continue discussions with faculty about mindsets . Continue asking chairs to call those majors (juniors, seniors) who have not enrolled in courses in a semester in which they were expected to enroll. Chairs phone those majors shortly before the beginning of the semester to try to encourage them to enroll. 

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution (e.g., the System Office or other institutions) to be successful?

The survey itself is not costly but subsequent interventions are; financial incentives are crucial to targeting students appropriately, whether with financial aid, tutoring, skills assessment plans, counseling, etc.  Consider the value of “saving” one student from dropping out of higher education and the ripple effect doing so has. Then multiply that “cost” (financial, economic, social, sociological, generational, etc.) by the thousands of students who could be “saved” each year.  From one, many: a fortiori. 

Project Lead/point of contact

Tim Howard, Assoc. Provost, Academic Affairs; Melissa Young, Director, CSU ADVISE. 


Activity/Project Name

Enhancing the Co-curricular Experience

Momentum Area
(select all that apply)


X Pathways


Change Management

Data & Communications

Activity/Project Overview or Description (what this is?)

Enhancing the Co-curricular Experience encompasses a variety of activities: 

  • 15-to-Finish 
  • ROAR Orientation
  • Program Maps for every major
  • Academic Focus Areas (See Appendix IV)
  • Pressure Testing Program Maps (See Appendix V)
  • Academic Milestones within majors
  • Posting of 2-Year Rotation Schedule
  • Career Milestones within majors

Activity/Project Activity Status (where is this in process? E.g., studying, initiating, piloting, scaling, maintaining, retiring, etc.)

  • 15-to-Finish (refining)
  • ROAR Orientation (refining)
  • Program Maps for every major (maintaining)
  • Academic Focus Areas (maintaining)
  • Pressure Testing Program Maps (maintaining) 
  • Academic Milestones within majors (maintaining)
  • Posting of 2-Year Rotation Schedule (scaling)
  • Career Milestones within majors (scaling)

All activities are in one of three stages: refining, maintaining, or scaling. Refining means the activity is constantly being reassessed, revised, and improved. Maintaining means that items listed are routinely updated as needed. Scaling means that significant progress has been achieved but more still needs to be accomplished. 

Evaluation/Assessment plan (Key Performance Indicators, assessment plan, anticipated time period, reporting and review) 

Evaluation Plan and measures: 

Those labeled as refining are evaluated by the organizers/developers themselves. Those labeled as maintaining are monitored by department chairs, CSU ADVISE, and Academic Affairs. Those labeled scaling are monitored by Academic Affairs, CSU ADVISE, and the Center for Career Design (CCD). 

Baseline measure: The baseline varies by activity. For example, program maps had a baseline of 0 in 2013, but a value of about 85 (number) in 2014, and a value of 96 (number) in 2021. The baseline for Posting of 2-Year Rotation Schedule was 0 in 2020 but was about 35% completed in 2021. In 2016, the baseline for Pressure Testing was 0.

From 2017-2021, the baseline for Pressure Testing was by random sampling 8 programs per year (2 per college). The compliance rate varied from 93% to 99%, depending on the year. Beginning in Fall 2021, Pressure Testing shifted from sampling to direct testing. All programs at CSU were pressure tested and achieved a score of about 97% compliance; that is, about 97% of courses that were supposed to be offered in a given semester were actually offered in that semester. Sometimes a course was offered but later canceled due to low enrollment, but it was offered. In Fall 2022, to maintain simplicity in its methodology, CSU returned to sampling 8 programs per year to determine compliance of program maps to actual course offerings. See Appendix V: Pressure Testing

Program Maps Against Actual Course Offerings.

A follow up to Pressure Testing might be to deploy a similar phased approach and run Curricular Analytics ( on the program of study to identify where the blocking and delaying courses are and assess whether those courses need to be surrounded by additional supports.

Goal or targets: Ideally, those listed as scaling will be completed by the end of AY 2022-2023. Once completed they will go into maintaining or refining mode. 

Time period/duration: All should be in refining or maintaining mode by end of AY 2022-2023. 

Progress and Adjustments
(what has been accomplished and what changes do you feel you need to make)

Those labeled refining or maintaining are fully accomplished. Those labeled scaling are in progress but with inconsistencies. For example, for CSU’s 2021 report, Academic Milestones was about 75% complete. Now it is about 100%  complete. Posting of 2-Year Course Schedules was about 35% complete in Fall 2021 but is now 0% complete because departments have not been asked to submit updated 2-year plans.  In other words, a 2-year plan needs to be updated annually or it ceases to be a 2-year plan.

Plan for the year ahead
(What steps will you be taking in 2022?)

Focus will be on those labeled scaling since there is still much to accomplish in those activities. 

What challenges will affect your ability to do this activity?
What support do you need from outside your institution (e.g., the System Office or other institutions) to be successful?

Posting a 2-Year Schedule in Banner presents challenges for chairs, since not all section data is stable two years out. It also presents a section data entry challenge, since course sections must be revised as data changes or becomes available.

However, we think the students can benefit enormously from having access to two years of course schedule information, even considering the inevitable changes. Unfortunately, chairs were not asked to update or continue their 2-year schedules submitted in Fall 2021, so 0% of departments now have their 2-year schedules posted.

Academic Milestones have been loaded in EAB Navigate as defined by departments. Advisors are now able to see when a student has missed a milestone which allows a timelier intervention. However, there are still some technical issues to work through with EAB as advisors are not alerted (as promised) when a milestone is missed.

Project Lead/point of contact

Melissa Young, Director, CSU ADVISE; Mariko Izumi, Director, CCD; Barbara Hunt, Project Manager, Provost's Office.


Section 2.2: Our Big Idea

For the 2021 Summit, you developed and implemented a Big Idea. What have you learned from your Big Idea? What evidence or indicators do you have? What are your plans to continue or adjust it?

Our Big Idea was to implement EAB Smart Guidance, the student-facing phone app extension of EAB Navigate, which CSU has been using for several years. See Appendix III for the Smart Guidance Intake Survey Questions.

Navigate is a comprehensive student success management system that links administrators, faculty, staff, and advisors across campus in a coordinated care network to support students from enrollment to graduation and beyond. It incorporates:

  • Predictive Analytics and reporting 
  • Appointment Centers/Scheduling Software
  • Advising Notes/Tutoring Notes
  • Early Alerts/Referrals
  • Progress Reports
  • Attendance 
  • Communication Tool: Text and Email

Smart Guidance is a student-facing resource in Navigate that adds several functions supporting Momentum Approach initiatives. These include:

  • An academic planner that helps students take courses in the sequence recommended by program maps.
  • Registration in Banner directly through the academic planner window (pending). 
  • An intake survey that allows CSU Advise to match services to the needs expressed by the student in the survey.
  • Reminders on the home screen of critical deadlines. For example, Time to fill out your FAFSA!
  • To Do lists generated by the student and adviser.
  • Quick polls on any topic.
  • A Study Buddy function that matches students in the same class to form study groups.

The EAB Smart Guidance soft-launched to students in Fall 2020. We sent out marketing via CSU email, put it in CSU email newsletters, put it on our social media channels, mentioned it during advising appointments, and discussed the app with students during virtual orientations. However, we quickly noticed that we needed a better way to reach out to students about the app because it was not being downloaded at the rate we expected and we began discussions to market it heavily during freshmen orientation. 

Starting in May 2021, a full rollout geared towards incoming students attending orientation began, and FY students were encouraged to install the app during an orientation session with leaders nearby to assist as needed; on 10/11/2021, 1,127 students downloaded the app. In comparison, during the Fall 2020 semester, only 141 students had downloaded the app. With the plethora of features available within Smart Guidance, we foresaw this app becoming a game changer in the way we communicated with students. 

Rollout and focus on incoming students continued during the Summer 2022 orientation with students encouraged to download the app several times throughout orientation. We also targeted new incoming freshman during two new programs: Cougar Scholars and Cougars Launch. The app was also continually promoted during advising appointments, via email, social media, and freshman workshops. We have successfully increased the number of downloads over the past year. The current number of students who have downloaded the app is 2,012 (as of 10/11/2022) which is an increase of 75.4% over this time last year. Unfortunately, even though the number of student downloads is high, we are not seeing repeat usage like we had hoped. The return user log-in rate over the past year is only 44.1%. A chart of user logins per month is included below.

One obstacle to enticing students to return to the app is that the planned registration tool in the Smart Guidance app was dramatically delayed. Technical issues and lack of communication from EAB severely pushed back our “go live” date. In fact, the registration portal was just recently turned on (October 10, 2022). With Spring 2023 priority registration beginning on October 17th, we were left unable to train students on the platform and thus utilize it as we had planned. 

With this in mind, we are questioning if the continued partnership with EAB Navigate and Smart Guidance is worth the investment. We are currently exploring other technology options to see if there is a more robust, holistic solution that can be implemented campus wide to better serve our students. With conversations around implementing a concierge model of customer service at CSU, talks have begun to review the Salesforce platform as a possible solution. This solution offers a lifecycle view of students from recruitment through alumni engagement, while offering artificial intelligence, communication journeys, predictive analytics, an advising platform, academic planning, and appointment scheduling. Additionally, this solution could replace several currently used platforms resulting in significant savings for the institution and streamlined services for students. 

Section 2.3: Global Momentum Work

In reflecting on your work above, what units on campus would have the opportunity to be more engaged in your Momentum Work? If so, in what ways and in what areas? 

While not a unit per se, the faculty at large have room to become more engaged in Momentum Approach efforts. For example, our HIP survey shows growing interest and awareness in the faculty of the benefits of HIPs, and it is our hope that more faculty will embrace HIPs in the classroom in the coming two years, with the goal of scaling up HIPs to reach all programs. See Section 2.1 on Structuring 3 HIPS in each baccalaureate program (pp. 2-5).

Faculty are also finding EAB Navigate more useful and using it in greater numbers. The rate of use among faculty (who completed at least one task in Navigate) rose from 55% in Fall 2019 to 73% in Fall 2021 (though with declines in the intervening springs). Spring 2022 faculty usage was up to 76.24%. Fall 2022 numbers are TBD. We continue to offer faculty tips and training on Navigate.

Student Affairs has been a constant partner with Academic Affairs in Momentum work. SA largely handles new student orientation, provides the first introduction to Smart Guidance, and gives students their primary introduction to being a successful college student. With the rollout of SG and our emphasis on the co-curricular experience, Student Affairs can offer guidance on how to position extra-curricular milestones and other experiences to increase student engagement. We have also strengthened this partnership by including CSU Tower Traditions as events/milestones in the Smart Guidance app.

Additionally, with the planned implementation of a concierge model (see end of Section 2.2 above), those administrative offices involved would utilize whatever technology solution is decided upon. 

Section 3.0: Reflecting on Momentum Work & Minding the Gaps

If there are elements of your critical CCG/student success work that is not detailed above that you wish to provide an update on, please use this section to indicate this.

Looking at your student success inventory, campus context and institutional data, what are your strengths with respect to student success? Where are you having the greatest success and making the most progress?

CSU’s 6-year institutional graduation rate has increased by 11.7% in 5 years from 32.3% to 44.0%.


The following chart illustrates that, until COVID hit in March 2020, CSU had decreased the number of full-time freshmen (FTF) enrolled in fewer than 24 credits (blue bar) and increased the number of students enrolled in 24-30+ hours (orange and gray bars). This was largely due to a registration process that defaulted new students into a full 15-hour schedule. In 2021-2022, the blue bar (less than 24 credit hours) is again declining after increasing dramatically at the start of the pandemic.

CSU has posted several 15-to-finish videos in the ROAR 1000 orientation D2L course. These cover the importance of staying on pace to graduate, what to do to catch up, how course load and satisfactory academic progress affect financial aid, and tips specific to transfer students.  

CSU established a dedicated advisor for all transfer students to aid in their transition and review of applicable credit, part of Collaborative Transfer Unit with Enrollment Management, Registrar, Student Life, and CSU ADVISE.

CSU’s University Support Status (USS), which replaced the system of probation/exclusion in 2020, matches support services to the specific needs of struggling students. Students whose GPAs dip below a threshold fill out an inventory and are required to access services that are matched to their particular needs. USS now serves a large number of students, and indeed the pandemic seems to have increased the number of struggling students drastically. The number of students is listed below: students placed on USS/students who enrolled in the program/students who completed the required advising/students who completed the USS program:

  • Spring 2021 - 845/471/391/346
  • Fall 2021 - 688/366/300/267
  • Spring 2022 - 881/582/373/TBD

What are your priority areas for continued improvement and why? Where do you have gaps in performance among student subgroups? What are your plans for understanding and closing these gaps?

CSU produced a report last year that aggregated five years of productive grade rates in every course on campus (that had more than 40 enrolled over five years) and disaggregated the data by G2C style categories (gender, race/ethnicity, Pell status, Age, FT/PT, First Gen, and delivery mode). This revealed various equity gaps (expressed in percentages and in number of individual students affected). We found that the largest gaps occurred in Area D Math and Science courses. We initially requested (2021) that each department select the one course (that they teach) with the most salient gaps for the purpose of a streamlined G2C style redesign (sans the enormous paperwork burden) with the goal of narrowing and eliminating gaps; the request evolved into Strategic Alignment (2022) wherein each department must analyze the efficacy of the courses it teaches.  

The USS program, mentioned above, also appears here in things we need to improve. Our recent experience is that only about half of students placed on USS return to the institution. Of that number, only about 72% complete the program assigned to them. We are currently in the process of refining the USS program and assessing its overall outcomes. Since the grant is ending in September 2023, we are currently evaluating the future of USS and how to institutionalize the program. Data about which services students utilize the most and are most effective are being analyzed in order to determine which services are essential to continue offering. We also need to explore better methods to assist students who are repeatedly on USS semester after semester. We will use the end of the grant as an opportunity to reflect and adjust programming to best serve the needs of our students.

CSU’s FTFT retention rate hovered between 72% and 76% in the past several years, but took a frightening plunge in Fall 2020 to 60.3%. The 2021 retention rate went back up to 68.8%. The one-year transfer retention rate, which hovered around 67%-69% in recent years, declined to 61.1% in 2020. This of course can be attributed to the pandemic in some way, but we are currently analyzing the precise interaction between the pandemic and these declines. We are looking at ways to use our FYE program to enhance the growth mindset, sense of belonging, and sense of purpose in these post-pandemic students.   


While our 15-to-finish efforts have increased the number of incoming first-year students taking a full 15- hour course load, the general population of students taking 15 credits in a fall or spring term remains stubbornly around 34% despite our considerable efforts. The rate of students taking between 12 and 14 credits also remains stuck at about 40% over the past five years. In the coming months, we will assess our 15-to-finish messaging, look for bottlenecks in scheduling, and generally look for reasons why students are taking so few hours, which delays their completion of programs and drives up their college costs.

What supports from the System Office would be most helpful in advancing your work?

The System office could help with the following issues:

  • It’s understandable that the Gen Ed revision was swamped by the Covid-19 emergency. However, campuses continue to wait for the USG revision before submitting their own Gen Ed changes. It would be helpful if the System would make a definitive statement on whether it is going forward with the Gen Ed revision. Gen Ed revisions would affect a multitude of our activities ranging from program electives, development and propagation of minors, program maps, Area F coursework, and so on. Its implication is huge. 
  • Just before the pandemic, the System engaged the services of Motivate Labs, whose people made presentations at the 2020 Momentum Summit. These seemed useful, but it has not been clear to us at the campus level how we can use what Motivate Labs did (or is still doing) in support of the Momentum Approach, especially in the area of Growth Mindset.
  • Growth Mindset is one of the more slippery initiatives in the Momentum Approach suite–how to improve it, how to assess it, how to educate faculty about it, and so on. The MomentumU course on mindset is very helpful, but a bit more guidance on how to approach mindset at the programmatic level would be most welcome. 
  • We are a little unclear on whether USG updated the Banner codes used to identify HIPs as a Banner attribute. CSU uses the original codes distributed from the System before the pandemic, but we are aware of a group at system level (Bruce Vandell, Robert Todd, et alia) working on a new coding system. Please clarify whether that effort has been finished and when the updated codes are available. 

Reviewing your recent data, what are your overall goals/targets?



Baseline (year) measure 

Time period/Time from now


Enrollment & Diversity

Fall 2018 

Ugrd - 6640

Minority - 3728

Fall 2022

Ugrd - 6022

Minority - 3277

No stated targets

No stated targets

Retention & Closing Retention Gaps


All - 71.5%

AA - 69.2%

Wh - 73.1%

Other - 71.5%


2025 FTFT retention targets

Overall: 78.5%

Female: 80.4%

Male: 75.7%

Black or African American:78.4%

White: 78.9%

Other Race: 75.1%

Graduation & Closing Graduation Gaps (150% of time/100% of time)

2015-21 six year

All - 43.2%

AA - 40.9%

Wh - 45.3%

Other - 39.7%

2017-21 4-year

All - 22.4%

AA - 16.7%

Wh - 27.4%



Completion of Area A courses in the first year

Fall 2018-19



70% by 2025

Credit Intensity for full time students and closing disparities

Spring 2022

15+ hours

All - 33.58%


35% by 2025


Section 4: Lessons from the Pandemic

The Pandemic has changed both the context in which students learn and our institutions operate and the students that we serve, in some ways that we can recognize, and others that we still are struggling to understand. We want to understand a bit more about what you have learned from the Pandemic, what the unantici^p           ppated consequences of the many changes and adjustments you have made have been, and what we can carry forward from this experimentation and adaptation into common practice.  

4.1    What changes that you have made in your practices/programs/operations because of the Pandemic improved your effectiveness and you plan to maintain or build upon?

The following are the more noticeable pandemic driven changes that we kept in place:

  • More virtual availability of advisors and other campus services. Extended hours on Tuesdays. (This has increased demand slightly.)
  • Policy requiring all courses (whether online or F2F) to have a presence on the LMS, including a syllabus, schedule, major assignments, gradebook, and information on Title IX and accommodation and access.
  • Flexible use of spaces for instruction, such as parking garages, museum spaces, and other.
  • Replacing some travel between campuses with virtual meetings.
  • Online options in the Counseling Center.
  • Online tutoring options.
  • Online workshops and coaching for USAP students and students in the USS program.
  • Higher number of faculty who are trained and have experience to teach online.
  • More recorded and live-streamed classes and events. 
  • Live-stream and recordings for all music performances.
  • Increase in online office hours.

4.2    How has your communications with students shifted since the Pandemic? How did that go? What did you learn? 

Email, which we found so magical only a few years ago, is widely seen as ineffective with 21st century students. Throughout the pandemic, we relied increasingly on texts to reach students (particularly to direct them to an email or a public announcement) and, indeed, on old-fashioned phone calls. CSU carried out a campaign to reach every student with a personal phone call during the lockdowns of 2020. CSU has several platforms available to reach students by text, including EAB Navigate, Emma, and Mongoose. With the addition of Smart Guidance, we can reach students through notifications on the app. This is in addition to posting information on the website and on courses in the LMS. To get important information to students, we have found that multiple channels and repeated messages are important.  

4.3    In what ways, if any, are the students you serve today different from the students you were serving before the Pandemic? What are the implications for your success work and for campus functions in general?

Let’s start with a description from our director of tutoring services, who captured the significant changes in students both providing and seeking tutoring:

Just this week, in addition to the 2-week notice, we've had 4 tutors call out sick or just needing mental health days. This has been the trend this year. We've had to cancel appointments, quite a few that couldn't be rescheduled in time to help the students. In 2020/2021 we only had to hire 4 tutors. In 2021/2022 we've had to hire 14. Before this year I'd never had a student get hired and not complete the training. This year we hired 3 that never finished the training and started tutoring. I've already heard from almost 1/3 of the current tutors/peer leaders that they are not returning in fall (graduation, transfer, or other reason). We will need to hire and train at least 8-10 new tutors peer leaders and that's assuming no one else decides not to return. Being short on tutors puts a greater burden on the ones left which leads to burnout and more absences and turnover. 

The challenges this director faced give a glimpse into the challenges we sense across the general population of students:

  • Larger numbers of students placed in Learning Support Math and English courses (total enrollment 2018-19 = 158; 2020-21 = 431).
  • Changes in admission policy (particularly dropping standardized test scores in many cases) affected pass-rate of courses, the discussion boards of online and hybrid courses, retention rates, etc. The repercussions are far reaching. 
  • Higher demand for online courses. 
  • Students who express more mental health concerns (anxiety, depression, etc.).
  • Students less prepared for traditional, closed-book, exams.
  • Students who missed traditional HS events, such as live theater or music. 
  • Students who have become accustomed to accommodations when not present in class.
  • Anecdotal reports of students who are unable to sustain enough motivation to finish assignments and courses.

In short, the implications seem to be that we need to increase our capacity to care for struggling students, increase engagement and sense of community among students, and continue to offer flexible learning environments while still attaining the expected course and program outcomes.

4.4    What are the questions you are still working on about supporting students in the Pandemic? 

A number of issues that seem to be triggered by the pandemic continue to occupy our attention, including the following:

  • General retention rates: CSU’s FTFT retention numbers fell from 71.5% in 2018 to 60.3% in 2021 (fall to fall). 
  • Admissions without standardized tests and placement in Math and English learning support.  
  • 15-to-finish, as described on pages 12-13 of this report.
  • Student expectations that all courses should now be blended (offered f2f and online simultaneously) and that some pandemic concessions (open book tests) should be permanent.
  • Higher turnover in certain staff and student positions.