A Look at How Three Institutions are Impacting Higher Education for the Better
By Eileen Smith, M.Ed.,
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
In September, Jenzabar gathered with higher education presidents, CIOs, CFOs, and other chief executives from near and far for our annual fall forum and retreat. Our largest yet, the forum provided a rich landscape to connect, network, and collaborate on common challenges, opportunities, and goals.
To get things started, Liz McMillen, Editor-in-Chief at The Chronicle of Higher Education, highlighted today’s industry-leading trends, noting information literacy, cyber security, free speech, and reckoning with history.
Following suit, three esteemed clients took the stage to discuss three unique and relevant industry perspectives.
Driving Student Success with Predictive Analytics
Patty Pitts, Director of Academic Programs at Crown College, described her institution’s journey to improve student success and retention.
After a hard look at their freshmen year, fall-to-fall retention rate, they knew they had to make a change. Using Jenzabar Retention, they identified these key risk factors:
- Unmet need amount
- Distance from home
- FAFSA date submitted
- High school type/GPA
With these in mind, Crown created a freshmen retention model, driven by cutting-edge predictive analytics. They intensified persistence and completion teams and conducted campus-wide training. Yet, of all their efforts, perhaps the most effective was their implementation of early alerts. Crown had tried early alerts in the past. However, more often than not, the alert would disappear into the void, leaving faculty and staff frustrated. Incorporated with Jenzabar Retention, the updated early alerts went directly into the system, identifying “at risk” students and proactively facilitating faculty outreach.
The results speak for themselves. By spring 2017, the average retention of all eligible students had increased to 96 percent—five percent more than the previous spring.
Continuing Education & Workforce Development Programs to Bridge the Gap
Melissa Walden, Director of Professional & Continuing Education at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, highlighted their efforts to revive workforce development programs.
“By 2030, researchers estimate at least 60 percent of Texans between 25 and 30 years old will have some sort of post-secondary credentialing,” said Ms. Walden.
The pace at which technology is changing is faster than that at which higher education is preparing students to meet this change. Recognizing an ever-growing need for a skilled workforce to compete in a global economy, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station is regenerating programs designed for nontraditional learners, by:
- Renewing focus in credentials that augment traditional academic areas
- Designing instructional materials
- Deploying educational partnerships
- Evaluating impact and performance
“Education of the future will be all about just-in-time knowledge,” speculated Ms. Walden. “Specialized careers and skills, and accelerating technological change, mean more organizations will need people who can deliver the right skills, at the right time, for the right purpose.”
Moving to the Cloud
James Fogt, Vice President for IT Services at Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU), illustrated his institution’s experience migrating to the cloud.
HSSU’s story echoes that of many institutions. After budget cuts, the IT department went from 20 to 12 over the course of a decade. With this transition, IT found themselves giving exorbitant amounts of time to maintaining and managing outdated processes and procedures. Disaster recovery consisted of offsite tape rotation in a personal residence, without backup hardware or annual testing. What’s more, without a documented recovery plan, there was no understanding of recovery point and recovery time objectives. Something had to change.
Prompted by the need to offload responsibility and streamline processes, HSSU migrated to Jenzabar Cloud and Managed Services. The benefits were innumerable. From the beginning, the Cloud enabled the institution to mitigate IT risks while also reducing overall system management operating costs.
Looking back, Mr. Fogt credits the success of the transition to a host of factors, including:
- Strong project management planning
- Documented testing plan and deadlines
- Comprehensive stakeholder buy-in
- Network configuration to optimize SaaS
Like Crown College and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, HSSU is reshaping higher education for the better. By thinking outside the box, each of these institutions are rethinking old and outdated practices and making higher education amazing.