66 college leaders share their top priorities for 2017

Nearly 90% of survey respondents say student success is a major priority

In a recent survey conducted by University Business, 66 presidents, chancellors, and provosts from institutions across the country weighed in on their higher ed priorities for 2016 into 2017.

The result? An overwhelming majority favored student success as a top priority for their upcoming initiatives.

The respondents were asked to rank their top four priorities out of a list of 12, and 88% included student success within their top four.

Who's responsible for improving student success at your institution? Everyone. Including faculty.

Other issues commonly listed among top priorities included:

  • Controlling costs (74%);
  • Fundraising (41%);
  • Raising non-tuition revenue (25%);
  • Expanding college access (25%); and
  • Expanding online learning (25%).

One factor driving student success' first place ranking is its broad nature as an initiative, say the report's authors. The term "student success" fundamentally covers students' academic, emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing, but it is also considered an umbrella term for the following goals:

  • Improving retention;
  • Expanding college access;
  • Boosting graduation rates;
  • Engaging with campus life;
  • Fostering students' life skills;
  • Establishing guided pathways;
  • Offering career services to alumni;
  • Helping students adjust to college life;
  • Improving academic success and outcomes;
  • Supporting first-generation and low-income students;
  • Increasing students' financial literacy and responsibility; and
  • Providing current students with career preparation and guidance.

Writing for Education Dive, Jarrett Carter suggests another factor driving student success' top ranking: accreditation.

Carter suggests that schools not considered part of the "elite private universe" may need to focus heavily on enrollment management strategies, campus life, and academic monitoring for diverse populations of students.

To do so, he says institutions' presidents will need to rally financial support for students with high potential—as well as those on the "academic fringes"—to provide them with adequate workforce training, technology, and scholarships (Carter, Education Dive, 12/23; University Business, 12/22).

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