How one university made student success every department’s responsibility

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How one university made student success every department’s responsibility

Moving the dial on student success requires extensive coordination among different offices on campus. Without buy-in and engagement from each department, however, most campus-wide success initiatives will fail to reach their full potential.

To make student success every department’s responsibility, institutional leaders must first signal their commitment to achieving strategic goals. When the president, provost, and senior cabinet members are publicly evaluated based on outcomes that align with institutional priorities, it is both easier to build a broader system of performance evaluation throughout staff and faculty ranks, and to signal the importance of those priorities to otherwise skeptical stakeholders. These public performance reports set the stage for organization-wide action and cascade metrics tied to student success to administrators at each level of the institution.

For example, the University of West Georgia has developed leadership scorecards for the president and each of his direct reports. These public performance grids include specific targets for both student and operational success. Performance is assessed on a 1-5 scale based on preassigned improvement targets over the previous year.

Use leadership scorecards to make student success every department's responsibility

Scorecards also include tactical goals, which outline strategic objectives like “develop and institute a divisional professional development program.” While these goals do not have an attached metric, the scorecards allow everyone to measure progress towards the prior year’s strategic goals. Goals and metrics should both align across the organization (ensuring that everyone is working toward the same ends) and become narrower for managerial and frontline leaders.