UCF is better aligning student success and academics to advance the university as a pacesetter in higher education for supporting students and degree completion.

Led by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Elizabeth A. Dooley, the strategic alignment results from months of planning by our academic leaders with input from faculty, staff and students. It also follows various reports and assessments over the years that encouraged UCF to take bold steps to enhance, reform and reimagine ways to better support students and their journey to achieving a degree.

The changes address priorities that include:

  • strengthening advising, especially through the role of faculty and advising enabled by data analytics;
  • defining a shared philosophy for student success; and
  • aligning shared ownership, accountability and impact to deliver on our student success goals.

“Student success is much more than just reaching target metrics. Our collective efforts must focus on creating a culture of student success that goes beyond the numbers and gets straight to why we are each here: to help students graduate and be successful, productive and global lifelong learners,” Dooley says. “To achieve this goal, an area we will strive to be recognized for is our distinctive commitment to student success.”

The organizational adjustments underway seek to better align student success with academics and university support units. Here’s more on the changes:

Division of Teaching and Learning and the College of Undergraduate Studies: The Division of Teaching and Learning and the College of Undergraduate Studies will be renamed the division of Student Learning and Academic Success and College of Undergraduate Studies. As part of this alignment, the Office of Student Success, First Year Advising and Exploration, Transfer and Transition Services, Student Academic Resource Center, and the Registrar’s Office will transition from the division of Student Development and Enrollment Services to the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success. The changes will strengthen the links between academics and student success; enhance our retention, persistence and graduation rates; and increase our students’ achievements in post-graduation pursuits.

Analytics and Integrated Planning: This new division in Academic Affairs includes the Institutional Knowledge Management unit. The new division is responsible for advancing the university’s analytics capabilities, sharing new success insights and enhancing data information use. The change will align institutional planning efforts and performance accountability.

Faculty Excellence: The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly under Teaching and Learning) will now report to the vice provost for Faculty Excellence. The change will help better support faculty development, student success and academic excellence.

Academic Affairs: The Operational Excellence and Assessment Support and Academic Planning units (formerly under Teaching and Learning), along with Academic Program Quality (formerly under Analytics and Integrated Planning), and the Center for Higher Education Innovation now report to the senior associate provost. The changes will help consolidate resources and improve collaboration.

This alignment does not impact the structure of the academic colleges and the budgetary impact is minimal. Rather, the changes focus on the structures of the organizational units that support the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs.

To support this initiative, Dooley has established implementation teams. They are charged with operationalizing a new student success model and structure that will ensure a student-centric approach throughout UCF’s operations. She asked the teams to complete their work by January 2020.

The alignment seeks to build on UCF’s major strides in boosting student retention and degree completion. Last fall, for the first time, UCF surpassed a 90 percent first-year student retention rate. This fall, the university has topped 91 percent.

In addition, over the past decade, UCF’s Hispanic and African American students have bucked national trends and significantly outperformed national averages for retention and completing a degree, particularly in addressing disparities with white majority counterparts.

As a result, UCF was recently named a finalist for the prestigious 2019 Degree Completion Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

UCF holds of the distinction of being the No. 1 producer of talent among public universities in the nation, with more than 16,000 degrees awarded last year. Also, UCF ranks second among all public and private institutions in bachelor’s degrees awarded to African American and Hispanic students.