Student Success Insights Blog

Feeling Connected All Over Again: A Look Back at CONNECTED17

by Ed Venit

Earlier in October, we convened over 500 Student Success Collaborative members representing over 200 schools for our annual summit, CONNECTED17, and I was reminded once again how much I appreciate this unique and powerful collaboration among student success leaders.

The experience brought me back to four years ago, when we packed 81 guests into a crowded classroom on the 8th floor of our headquarters for our very first Student Success Collaborative summit.  We were just getting started at that point and had yet to achieve the results we’ve now seen. Nevertheless, there was a palpable excitement in the room driven by everyone’s willingness to share past experiences and “raise all boats.” While I miss the intimacy of that first meeting, I’m glad that we never lost its core spirit—everyone gets smarter by learning from the successes of others.

If anything, even as the meeting has grown larger, the pace of how Collaborative members adopt innovative ideas has sped up dramatically. A few days after CONNECTED, I received an email from Grand View University sharing that they has already implemented a persistence tracker inspired by the one in use at Middle Tennessee State University.  Not to be outdone, a representative from Southern Connecticut State University told me that he was so inspired by the Oakland University graduation application initiative that he had actually pulled out his laptop and launched a similar campaign while I was still presenting the case study.  I was blown away – this surely has to set the record for fastest best practice implementation.

Introducing Student Success Management

As always, the core of our agenda was our original research on student success best practices.  Veterans of past summits know that we strongly believe our mission is to help our members deliver a better Return on Education (ROE) for their students.  To that end, we wanted to use this year’s agenda to document and define an emerging discipline called “Student Success Management.” In my keynote, I laid out the principles behind SSM and shared nearly two dozen stories of how members are using real-time process metrics to manage and accelerate their student success initiatives.

The other research presentations built upon this idea of organizing for the proactive management of student success issues: building progressive advising offices, expanding the coordinated care network, reducing DFW rates, and levering “nudges” to elicit student action. Melanie Bowen, who leads the development of our student success technologies, introduced the Student Success Management System, the underlying technology that supports SSM practices.  Taken together, these sessions outlined the necessary infrastructure and tactics for embedding student success management across the institution. 

The Collaborative on Display

Research case studies aren’t the only way that you learned from one another.  Many attendees took advantage of open-ended roundtable discussions that allowed for deeper exploration of the specific student success challenges facing different kinds of campuses.   I also want to acknowledge and thank representatives from Middle Tennessee State University, University of South Alabama, Florida State University, Bloomsburg University, Keuka College, and Mercy College for presenting their own case studies.  We are grateful for your willingness to get on stage to share your stories and allow others to light a candle from your lamp.

As great as the case studies were, I think we can all agree that the ConnectED Stories stole the show. I was incredibly moved by these heartfelt stories of how individuals and schools are working to help students every day.

Finally, I want to once again congratulate our Collaborative award winners:

  • University of South Alabama won the Return on Education Award for equipping faculty and professional advisors with EAB Campus so they can closely monitor students' academic progress and attendance, and coordinate support. 
  • Elizabeth City State University and Samford University jointly won the Collaborative Citizenship Awards for successfully engaging faculty in student success. 
  • Stacey Bradley, senior associate vice president for student affairs and academic support at the University of South Carolina won the Visionary Leadership Award for her initiative to improve advising, better coordinate student services, and enhance the student experience using EAB Campus
  • Mercy College was awarded the Technology Pioneer Award. Mercy’s professional mentors use EAB Campus every day to support students holistically, helping them choose classes, explore careers, and address financial barriers to completing college.  

Putting a Wrap on 2017 with a Look to Next Year

Even though the lights have gone down and everyone has flown home, CONNECTED never really ends for us: it just evolves as we interact with you more and more around this content.  I looking forward to engaging you and your teams in our research content via webinars, publications, and onsite presentations over the next few months.

We are also excited, for the first time, to be taking the summit on the road via our StayCONNECTED mini-summits.  We wanted to be responsive to your requests to get more of your campus teams exposed to this work. These regional presentations will allow us to invite a far broader audience to engage with the presentations you just saw. We founded the Student Success Collaborative on the central belief that we can increase the pace of innovation and progress against student success challenges by sharing promising ideas with one another. These regional summits allow us to continue, throughout the year, the work of cross-pollinating and incubating the student success best practices of tomorrow.

Want to stay CONNECTED?

View the Facebook Live recording of our CONNECTED 2017 keynote, "The Emerging Discipline of Student Success Management", to learn how the most progressive institutions are graduating more students, in less time, with better post-grad outcomes.

View the Recording


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