Our projects focus on helping students persist on their educational paths, complete their degrees and advance in their professional lives.

The UIA launched the Black Student Success Initiative (BSSI) in 2020 after a summer of protests for racial justice. Each UIA university spent the next year gathering information on the Black student experience on our distinct campuses. Oregon State University's BSSI focus is to improve the classroom experience for our Black students. As a first step, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Center for Teaching and Learning are facilitating inclusive teaching workshops for faculty and instructors. These workshops are held within each OSU college and ask faculty to select an area of inclusive teaching to explore for the next term; course design and access; curriculum and content; and fostering engagement, relationships and belonging. Faculty then create a tangible to do list to incorporate inclusivity into their teaching practice or update their current inclusive teaching strategies.

Partnership with Enrollment Management, University Information and Technology 

As part of the newest project launched 2019, UIA institutions are learning from each other around the design and use of chatbot technology to answer students’ basic administrative questions to help them navigate the university. At OSU, we piloted an in-house chatbot called Chat with Benny. Chat with Benny was designed to assist incoming, domestic, first-year students with administrative tasks required after they are admitted to OSU in order to matriculate into the university. OSU experts in admissions, housing and dining, financial aid, new student programs and more contributed to content in the chatbot. Chat with Benny was first used in May 2019 in connection with text-based reminders sent by the Office of Admissions to admitted students. When COVID-19 first emerged, Chat with Benny was redeployed to answer questions  related to remote new student orientation, virtual campus tours, advanced tuition deposit date changes, and more. Learn more about how UIA institutions are using chatbots to communicate with students during the pandemic here

Partnership with Career Development Center, cross-campus taskforce including colleges

The Bridging the Gap from Education to Employment (BGEE) project aims to reimagine the college to career pathway to improve career outcomes for low-income, first-generation, students of color, and underrepresented college students. The three-year project is funded by Strada Education Network (2018-2020) and emphasizes the application of human-centered design methods. Based on interviews with over 50 Oregon State students and input from faculty and advisors, the BGEE team identified a critical need for faculty to support students on their path to careers. As such, OSU is piloting a faculty fellowship program called Career Champions in summer 2020. In Career Champions faculty learn tangible ways to add career connection in the classroom while examining the barriers to access for low-income, first-generation, and student sof color. Faculty responded positively to the pilot and the BGEE team used their feedback to design a six-week version of the program. Now Career Champions is held regularly and , as of January 2022, 51 faculty have been through the program.

Partnership with Office of Financial Aid, Business Affairs 

Recognizing the significant financial barriers to degree completion, the Beaver Completion Grants program started in 2017 to provide micro-grants to students with financial need who are approaching graduation, but are unable to continue due to unpaid account balances. Facilitated by project lead Brian Hultgren, OSU awarded over $223,000 in micro-grants as of winter 2020. These grants helped 245 students who would have otherwise stopped out remain enrolled and moving toward graduation. The average award amount was $912, and 92.8% of the Beaver Completion Grant recipients successfully graduated or are finishing out their final one to two terms at OSU. Expanding on these UIA project efforts, the Office of Financial Aid, Business Affairs, the College of Business, and Institutional Analytics & Reporting developed a CORE report that provides data on student account balance holds by college. Multiple colleges used this data to pilot college-based micro-grant awarding. 

Partnership with Office of Academic Achievement, Institutional Analytics & Reporting 

The second project for the UIA, Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS), sought to understand the effect of proactive, intensive academic advising on the retention and progression of first-generation and low-income college students. It included a supplemental, campus-based advising program and accompanying research study funded by $8.9 million First in the World grant from the US Department of Education. OSU launched its MAAPS program with a cohort of 460 first-year students in fall 2016.

Participation in MAAPS enhanced OSU’s understanding of the needs and experiences of first-generation and low-income students as they navigate their college education. For instance, the Office of Financial Aid adjusted their communications after learning of the difficulty MAAPS students experienced interpreting and completing financial aid processes. The MAAPS advising lead, Kerry Kincanon, and the MAAPS advisors play a key role in bringing such student experiences to the attention of administrators and campus partners. The MAAPS advisors also helped develop and test new proactive advising strategies and technologies. MAAPS was originally designed with a four-year term, concluding in September 2019. However, funding has recently been extended to continue analyzing student retention and progression data for the next two years. 

Partnership with the OSU academic advising community (colleges & central), Enterprise Computing Services, Office of the Registrar, Institutional Analytics & Reporting

The alliance’s first collaborative project in 2015 invited member institutions to utilize predictive analytics to enhance student success. OSU initially adopted EAB’s Student Success Collaborative (SSC) to provide academic advisors and administrators with predictive analytics tools to facilitate proactive advising interventions. Over time many of the features of the platform were developed by other OSU advising technologies, including CORE, MyDegrees, and Banner Self-Service. OSU discontinued use of SSC in June 2018 but continues to support proactive, data-driven advising outreach through these other tools.

Ongoing efforts related to this project seek to equip academic advisors with the framework and skills to effectively use available data and predictive analytics tools. Facilitated by the UIA Fellow, a team of advisors utilized process mapping to create a resource to help advisors integrate data-informed proactive outreach strategies into their work (read a blog post about their work). OSU also developed data tools training curriculum for academic advisors that incorporates interactive learning and practice with CORE reports, CORE dashboards, and Microsoft Excel.

University Innovation Alliance