Student Success

Last updated on June 9, 2015

Student Success Goal: San Diego State University will continue to focus on Student Success by emphasizing high-impact practices that produce transformational educational experiences and by fostering an institutional culture that recognizes and rewards student achievement.

Consistent with the student success goal outlined in the strategic plan, the university has invested $42,164,046 in one-time funding and $11,769,816 in base budget funds that support student success strategic plan initiatives and address critical support needs.

Initiative 1: Promote Student Success Across the University

A total of $11,770,300 in one-time funding and $7,058,553 in base budget funds have been allocated for initiatives that promote student success across the university. These funds support the following initiatives:

  • Increase tenured/tenure-track faculty and staff levels to meet critical and strategic needs by investing significant resources over three years.
  • 67 faculty and 63 staff searches resulted from the 2013/2014 investments. 63 faculty members and 57 staff members were hired in the first year of plan implementation. In 14/15, an additional 62 faculty and 16 staff were hired. There are currently 65 active faculty searches for Fall 2015.
  • Create Writing and Math Centers by investing in faculty, graduate assistants and support staff resources, with each Center directed by a tenured/tenure-track faculty member.
  • A Writing Center was launched in Fall 2013 and the tenure-track faculty member was hired. More information about the Writing Center. Funding has been allocated for 15/16 to establish the Math Center, hire a scheduling coordinator as well as 10 graduate students.
  • Invest funds to increase the four-year graduation rates of all students and eliminate the achievement gaps of under-represented students.
  • Investments provided support to hire six additional academic advisors/evaluators to support first-time freshmen and transfer students with Orientation, My Maps, and academic advising in order to increase four-year graduation rates. The university is in the process of filling these positions. Moreover, the new faculty and staff hires, the Aztecs Scholars Program, the Commuter Resource Center, and the Learning Analytics Working Group efforts support this initiative.
  • Invest funds to increase the recruitment and retention of under-represented students through targeted recruitment and outreach to inform students of exceptional programmatic and co-curricular opportunities.
  • Investments provide support for targeted recruitment and outreach activities. A working group was formed in Fall 2013 and is currently implementing initiatives to support this goal. The working group has focused their efforts in three areas: recruitment, transition programs and services, and retention. Through the development of the Aztec Scholars Initiative, they defined initiatives in each of the three focal areas. The initiatives are targeted for African American and American Indian students. The first year's recruiting initiative resulted in a 29% increase in freshman intents to enroll for African American students (143 to 184) and a 156% increase in freshman intents to enroll for American Indian students (9 to 23). In 14/15, additional funding was committed in support of the Aztec Scholars Initiative and the result was a 16% increase of intents to enroll for African American students (184 to 213), and a 16% increase of intents to enroll for American Indian students over the previous fall (23 to 26).
  • Invest in the recruitment and retention of under-represented faculty and staff through targeted activities.
  • Investments provide support for recruitment and retention of under-represented faculty through targeted activities. A working group was formed in Fall 2013 and is currently implementing initiatives to support this goal. Targeted activities include a recently developed faculty recruitment video, the implementation of recruitment workshops focusing on diversity, the addition of specific messaging about SDSU's diverse community in all posted ads, the development of partnerships with institutions that have a wide pool of diverse PhD candidates, the use of online listings of diverse PhDs recipients, and the development of informational workshops for search committees. Of the faculty hired in Fall 2014, the majority were female and 43 percent were persons of color.
  • Promote commuter student success based on results of an in-progress needs assessment by the Divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, with relevant support and resources and in association with the established Commuter Student Lounge of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.
  • A working group was formed in Fall 2013 and is currently implementing initiatives to support this goal. Investments provide funding for a Commuter Coordinator to develop programming for the Commuter Resource Center located in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, which opened in January 2014. The Commuter Coordinator, a graduate student assistant, and more than a dozen student academic mentor positions were hired during 13/14.
  • In 14/15, one-third of the visits to Student Life and Leadership were to the Commuter Resource Center and 450 students enrolled in a commuter learning community. Additional funding has been allocated for 15/16 to expand the number of commuters in learning communities from 450 to 1000. More information about commuter student success.
  • Provide focused interventions for at-risk local first-time freshmen in order to increase continuation rates and four- and six-year graduation rates.
  • See Commuter Resource Center, Learning Analytics Working Group, Aztec Scholars Program.
  • Provide diverse educational experiences for all students by leveraging our campus’s rich diversity. Integrate diversity initiatives in support of these goals.
  • Investments provide support for integrative diversity initiatives. A working group on Integrative Diversity was formed. In 13/14, funding was allocated to create multiple mechanisms for students from varied ethnic, racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds to join together for inter-group dialogue and reflections on common humanity. These included a training program for student leaders, created in collaboration with the National Conflict Resolution Center, to help students communicate and resolve conflicts about diversity issues. Similarly, Aztec Unity Projects united students from campus groups that do not normally interact with each other to carry out community service projects. In the first year of implementation, over 450 student leaders attended these programs.
  • In 14/15, over 1,400 students participated in the Student Leader Diversity Training. In addition to the completion of six Aztec Unity Projects, One SDSU Community programs served over 1,000 students during Welcome Week and seven Campus Collegiate Dialogues were held over the course of the year. In total, over 6,000 students participated in integrative diversity programming in the 14/15 year.
  • Funds allocated for 15/16 will allow an additional 800 students to participate in the Student Leader Diversity Training, and will engage over 7,000 students in integrative diversity programming throughout the year.
  • Provide funding to continue the Aztec Nights program in support of student well-being.
  • Investments provide base budget funds support to the existing Aztec Nights program, which was previously funded by one-time funds. The program offers a series of alcohol and drug free programs and social activities to the campus community in the first five weeks of the semester. More information about Aztec Nights.
  • Convene a cross-divisional task force to review, assess, and implement additional support for programs addressing the negative academic and personal consequences of abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
  • An AOD working group was formed in Fall 2013, utilizing an extant group and adding additional members. Utilizing student surveys and incident data from SDSU PD and Student Rights and Responsibilities, the group developed multiple recommendations in the following areas: off-campus parties/events, student organization supervision, effective AOD education, and prevention enhancement. A number of the recommendations, including programs supporting enhanced prevention and recovering addicts, were implemented in 2014-2015. Working collaboratively with Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services and Health Promotions, they have successfully implemented a screening, brief intervention and a referral to Counseling and Psychological Services for students dealing with Alcohol and Other Drug issues who were seen at the Student Health Services for a potentially unrelated issue. They have also implemented a Recovery Allies Training program in order to better support SDSU students who are currently in recovery.
  • Convene a broad-based task force of faculty and staff to evaluate approaches to integrating learning analytics and the student information system to allow timely interventions that promote student success at course and curricular scales.
  • Investments provide support to evaluate approaches in order to integrate learning analytics into our existing systems, convene a broad-based task force of faculty and staff to evaluate approaches to integrating learning-analytics and the student information system to allow timely interventions that promote student success at course and curricular scales. Through an investment of $140,000 in one-time funding over the past two years, the Strategic Plan Learning Analytics Working Group completed a significant experimental study of the effect of measuring triggers (defined as events that would be expected to predict poor performance such as missing classes) and intervening in response to those triggers (defined as contacting students to inform them of ways to improve performance) on academic performance.
  • Over 3,500 students in five high-failure courses participated over the Spring 2014, Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters -- Psychology, Statistics, Computer Engineering, Economics and Statistics. The study demonstrated a clear relation between the number of triggers and poor performance in the courses.
  • Complete analysis of the data is expected to be complete at the end of Summer 2015. $217,000 in one-time funds has been allocated for 15/16, which will allow for the use of supplemental instruction as a way to increase the effectiveness of the interventions on the Learning Analytics triggers.
  • Invest funds to staff an LGBT Center, develop programs and fund related academic initiatives.
  • In Spring 2014, a coordinator was hired at the Pride Center. The Center supports an open campus environment for persons of all sexual and gender identities. In 14/15, the Center sponsored 27 programs, 13 of which were co-sponsored with community partners. Investments were made to support physical improvements to the space, including installation of a new marquee and modifications to the perimeter fencing. In partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services, counseling is now offered in the Center on a weekly basis. More information about the Pride Center.

Initiative 2: Enhance Transformational Educational Experiences

A total of $1,707,063 in one-time funding and $809,456 in base budget funds have been allocated for initiatives that enhance transformational educational experiences for all students. These funds support the following initiatives:

  • Establish a University Honors College with a goal of 1,200-1,400 students from diverse backgrounds through funding of an Associate Director and additional honors courses.
  • The Honors College was established, and with a generous gift from SDSU supporter Darlene Shiley, was named the Susan and Stephen Weber Honors College. With the formal establishment of the Honors College the stage is set to grow the College's enrollment to 1,200 students in the next 3 years. Working towards this goal, the Weber Honors College will enroll over 800 students in Fall 2015.
  • Support the Honors College fundraising goal of a $10-million dollar endowment for student scholarships and faculty stipends.
  • The Weber Honors College endowment now stands at $10,226,782.
  • Strengthen internship and mentoring programs to foster students’ professional development by working collaboratively with our alumni to create an alumni network that supports lifelong success for all alumni (see further information regarding an Alumni Coordinator in the Engage our Alumni and Community Supporters section).
  • Investments provide support for targeted activities that strengthen our internship and mentoring programs. To support internships, a working group was formed in Fall 2013, utilizing an extant group and adding additional members. The working group created campus internship infrastructure, which included hiring a campus internship coordinator and employer liaison, creating an Online Internship Site Questionnaire for the purpose of receiving annual feedback from internship sites, a service learning agreement flow chart to guide departments, and guidelines for managing international internships. Career Services and the Alumni Association launched the Aztec Mentor Program. The program pairs students with alumni mentors for internships, professional development, and job placement opportunities. The Aztec Hiring Aztecs media campaign supports this program by coordinating online portals (Career Services, SDSU Alumni) and advertising in university media. At the end of 13/14 there were 247 student-mentor pairs participating in the Aztec Mentor Program. By the end of Spring 2015 there were over 830 mentor pairs. More information about the Aztec Mentor Program. Moreover, Career Services is working with campus departments to provide internship opportunities for our students on campus. At the end of the Spring 2015 Career Services had verified more than 2,800 internships.
  • Increase the rate of undergraduate student participation in approved international experiences to 30 percent within five years by providing funds for support services.
  • Investments provide funds for support services. An International Programs working group was formed in Fall 2013, utilizing an extant group and adding additional members. In order to support this initiative the Office of International Programs has hired an assistant to coordinate study abroad activities with the colleges. Staff positions have been filled in the colleges to support students in their efforts to study abroad. The working group developed a comprehensive marketing program and one stop shop for study abroad.
  • As a result of these efforts, over 1,800 students had an international experience and 11 students were awarded Fulbright fellowships in 13/14. This represents an increase of 17 percent from the previous year. In 14/15, over 2,100 students had an international experience and over 250 of those students were from the Educational Opportunity Program. In addition, eight students were awarded Fulbright fellowships in 14/15.
  • Expand opportunities for undergraduate scholarship through innovative courses, experiences, and engagement (see further information regarding the Student Research Symposium in the Reinforce the Value of Research for Student Success section).
  • Investments provide support to expand opportunities for undergraduate scholarship including providing additional funds to support the Student Research Symposium. An Undergraduate Research working group was formed in Fall 2013. The working group recommended the establishment of two mini-grant programs to provide students, faculty, and staff with financial assistance to further support undergraduate research. The two programs were rolled out in Fall 2014. The faculty mini-grant program has been very successful; the student mini-grant program will be reworked for 15/16. More information about the Student Research Symposium.
  • Support the university’s entrepreneurial centers to enhance students’ entrepreneurial initiatives (see further information in the Contribute to the Advancement of the San Diego Region section).
  • Investments provide support for programs that foster entrepreneurial experiences. A working group has been formed, utilizing an extant group and adding additional members. The scope of the center, which now includes representation from all colleges on campus, was expanded to include social as well as more traditional commercial models, under the direction of the Vice President for Research. Over 50 teams comprised of over 150 participants are now involved in the Zahn Center. A new Director of Social Entrepreneurism was hired using private funding to help catalyze this area and the HG Fenton Idea Laboratory was created for turning concepts into physical reality through development of early prototypes. The Lavin Center is continuing to expand its engagement both off and on-campus by providing educational and experiential opportunities through workshops and competitions such as Pitchfest and LeanModel. A lecture series has been implemented, and the new music entrepreneurship program has been established.

Initiative 3: Pursue Pedagogical Innovation through Faculty Support

A total of $450,468 in one-time funding and $635,201 in base budget funds have been allocated to pursue pedagogical innovation through faculty support. These funds support the following initiative:

  • Increase institutional commitment to the design, development, assessment, and promotion of high-quality courses, programs and degrees through funding for Instructional Technology Services course designers and faculty-assigned time for participation in the Curriculum Design Institute.
    Investments provide funds for online course development for course designers and faculty release time. Illustrations of the increasing scope of pedagogical innovation include the following: faculty members have created 85 on-line high enrollment general education classes; the university offered 208 hybrid courses this year; 338 faculty members now use Camtasia Video Recording technology to present a variety of course material. In 14/15, seventeen faculty members enrolled in the Course Design Institute. More information about the Course Design Institute.

Investments in Critical Support Needs:

A total of $28,236,215 in one-time funds and $3,266,606 in base budget funds were allocated to address critical support needs. Critical support needs investments include support for:

  • Critical staffing needs
  • Financial Aid
  • Student Disability Services
  • Campus accessibility improvements
  • Classroom, lab and building renovations
  • Classroom and lab equipment
  • Institutional equipment and software
  • Campus safety measures
  • Student recruitment infrastructure
  • Veteran’s House
  • Women's Resource Center
  • Critical Academic Support Needs
  • Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex