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Getting Better At Getting Better: President Mark Rosenberg, FIU, on Advancing Student Performance

Photo credit: Florida International University

Photo credit: Florida International University

One of the lessons that I learned as Chancellor of the State University System of Florida (2005-2009) was how to listen better than I had ever listened before.  In essence, not to be “tone-deaf.”  Throughout this country, there is continuing concern for the shape of things to come in higher education.  Our new Provost, Ken Furton, suggests that the changes in higher education will be dramatic, perhaps the most profound that we have ever experienced.  Our public urban universities have an unprecedented opportunity to deepen our role and primacy in developing solutions to America’s higher education dilemmas.

As anchor institutions in urban areas, we have the unique opportunity to move the needle given the scale of our institutions and our student’s deep talent.  But we must do better in so many areas—keeping the access doors open for so many first and second generation students who need advanced education to take or create a good job in this century; retooling our curriculum to take better advantage of new learning and evaluation techniques; and perhaps most important, to mobilize fully all faculty and staff to accept the rapid change that is upon us with a rededication to retaining and graduating students who are the key to our future well-being.

I am so proud of our collective efforts in USU.  We are not tone-deaf to the growing demand for greater accountability and success in our endeavors.  We realize that we can do a much better job of assessing and evaluating best practices that accelerate student achievement; we understand that there is an urgency to work more collaboratively to assure timely review and implementation of new approaches to student success; and most of all, we carefully listen and learn from each other in a genuine collegial effort to enable our timely responses to rapid disruptive changes that are widening opportunity and income gaps.

So lets go!  We welcome your participation and engagement! Take a look below at how we work together.

We build communities of practice with national partners.

In 2014, we launched the Transformational Planning Grant project, a partnership between APLU and USU to explore and support transformational change in urban universities, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Florida International University, Fresno State, Georgia State University, Portland State University, Temple University, University of Akron, and University of Illinois at Chicago are spending one year developing plans for new approaches, strategies, and initiatives that center on increased student success and possible shifts in the university business model at their institution. The cohort is also working together around areas of common concern. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing what they’ve learned about working with adult learners, redesigning gateway courses, working more deeply in the community, engaging faculty in change efforts, and financial predictors of student persistence and graduation.

We take risks and innovate together

pitch judges 2014

Photo Credit: APLU

In November, we held the Innovation Pitch Challenge. Eleven universities pitched innovative ideas to a panel of judges from philanthropy, business and higher education for seed money to support innovative approaches to building relationships between higher education, employers and the labor market. The innovation challenge pitch, funded by Lumina Foundation, not only unearthed new programs, but listening to 11 novel approaches side by side deepened our understanding of what it takes to build higher education-employer relations.

We share what works. letting evidence show us the way

Check out our searchable database to find what our schools are doing well to prepare, retain and foster success in our students. You can also watch some amazing webinars we put together on cutting edge strategies. Take a look. The future of education can be seen in these approaches.

  1. Jackson State University, for example, implemented cyberlearning a strategy, based on tablet technology. Every first-time, full-time freshman received an ipad. To accomplish this, curriculum needed to be redesigned, classrooms expanded, textbooks rewritten and outcomes measured.

  2. New applied research demonstrates that brief, inexpensive interventions can raise students’ achievements over months and years. Magic? No, just evidence-based psychology that help students address concerns and strengthen their sense of belonging and resiliency.

  3. Award winning approaches from Florida International University, Georgia State University and San Francisco University. Winners of the APLU’s most visible progress award, these three schools have different but effective ways for improving student retention and graduation outcomes.

Check out our events page for past and future opportunities.

Do you have a best practice you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it. Comment or just contact us at


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