The Interdependence of Student Success and Faculty Success

Student Success and Faculty Success are Deeply Intertwined with Each Other and with Equity Issues in Higher Education

Imagine that you are stepping onto campus at ABC University for the very first time. You are new to campus, new to your department, and new to a college classroom. You must figure out where to park, grab a meal, and get tech support as well as how to build relationships. You want to belong and feel competent in your new environment. This experience is true for both faculty and students. In fact, there are many parallels between the student experience and faculty experience in higher education. The aptitude for success with any of these circumstances is not dependent on the person. Personal attributes do not equate to success navigating the university environment. But what does is developing university environments that ensure success. This is the goal of student success at Colorado State University, to create equitable educational environments resulting in increased graduation rates and eliminating opportunity gaps.

Student success at CSU takes a holistic approach that focuses on creating change within the institutional environment to ensure that students are successful, and faculty success is part of the equation. Students spend more time in a college classroom than anywhere else on campus, and students engage with faculty on a weekly if not daily basis. This all but ensures that faculty success equates to student success. The two are also deeply intertwined with equity issues in education. 

Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure all campus community members can thrive. This depends upon the cultivation of campus structures and systems that acknowledge and address historic and current structural inequalities that advantage some and disadvantage others. 

Five Targets for Addressing Equity in Student and Faculty Success

To improve student success, here are five equitable issues that matter greater to CSU’s students and faculty as well as their success.

  1. Access to Resources: Students and faculty need tools, materials, and support to achieve their goals, which are critical for both academic and personal success. This includes access to resources related to technology (computers, software, technical support), financial (fair wages, emergency funds, professional development), or support services (mentoring, health and wellness, career development), among others.
  2. Representation: Ensuring diverse representation among students and faculty positively impacts one’s sense of belonging and academic achievement. A diversity of students and faculty enriches the educational environment by ensuring that the campus community reflects diverse perspectives and experiences. Representation tackles the phenomenon of hypervisibility, or scrutiny based on perceived difference which leads to feelings of being watched, judged, or tokenized—all of which significantly impact well-being for students and faculty.
  3. Addressing Bias and Discrimination: Students and faculty may face bias and discrimination based on their race, gender, sexuality, and/or other characteristics. Addressing these concerns ensures that, regardless of their identity, individuals have access to the same educational opportunities and pathways for success, including, for example, research endeavors, leadership opportunities, recognition and rewards.
  4. Cultural Competence Training: Through developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to effectively interact with people from diverse cultures, we are able to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for students and faculty (e.g., understanding diversity, uncovering bias, or intercultural communication). Creating an inclusive university experience is elevated when members of the university community can understand and address the unique challenges faced by its members, including faculty, students, and staff.
  5. Community Engagement: The everyday lived experiences for faculty and students extend beyond the boundary of the university. Strengthening the relationship between the institution and the community is essential for student and faculty success. Collaboration between the institution and the local community, including businesses, government, community organizations, and others, enhances the experience and outcomes for students and faculty. For instance, multi-partner collaborations can enhance access to affordable housing, transportation, and healthcare for CSU community members and beyond.

Most importantly, we must keep in mind that these challenges are amplified for students from marginalized backgrounds as well as faculty from underrepresented groups as a result of historic and current structural inequalities that advantage some and disadvantage others. 

Student success is a major initiative at CSU and has been names as one of President Parson’s five institutional priorities. Aligning student success with faculty success, we are able attain the student success goal, to create equitable educational environments resulting in increased graduation rates and eliminating opportunity gaps. 

Author Information: This blog post was written by Coronda Ziegler. Coronda is the Senior Student Success Manager and a Presidential Leadership Fellow.