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Office of the Provost From the Provost

Recruiting the next class of Cougs

Alive! participants walk past the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center during a walking tour Tuesday, June 6 in Pullman.

Our next class of Cougars is nearly formed after well over a year of recruiting, communicating, preparing, confirming, and orienting by dedicated WSU staff and faculty.

We expect to welcome around 4,000 freshman students in the fall at the WSU Pullman campus, and we’re very excited about their futures. WSU is bringing in well-prepared students who have a very good chance of succeeding at WSU and moving on to rewarding careers. The incoming freshman class is expected to have an average high school grade point average over 3.4, continuing an upward trajectory over the past four years.

Faculty play crucial roles, both directly and indirectly, in the recruitment process. Eric Godfrey, Executive Director of Enrollment Management Programs, says the Future Cougars of Distinction event on campus earlier this year was just one example of faculty’s immense influence on prospective students. More than 70 percent of the 300 students who attended the Future Cougars of Distinction event committed to WSU.

“Faculty are very involved in recruiting, and I think they’re optimistic that the students coming in appear to be serious and well prepared,” says Eric Godfrey, Executive Director of Enrollment Management Programs. “The Future Cougars of Distinction event was a powerful testimony for faculty involvement.”

Last fall, WSU enrolled more than 30,000 students system-wide. Exact numbers will be available in September, but enrollment is expected to remain relatively level as students continue to seek WSU for its academic excellence, rich college atmosphere and excellent tradition.

“In our communication with students we are talking about the value proposition of WSU and the qualities that make WSU unique,” Godfrey says. “We’ve worked really hard to bolster the institution’s academic reputation and celebrate where WSU is in the marketplace. Our guiding principle in recruiting is to identify students for whom WSU would be a good fit, who would have a high likelihood of success here.”

Godfrey says historical trends and statistical analysis help his team to key in on recruiting students who profile similar to students who’ve been successful at WSU in the past. The approach is helping to increase demand, and ultimately will result in a greater number of students graduating from WSU.

The state and the nation will ultimately benefit, as WSU serves its land-grant mission of producing highly qualified and engaged citizens for the workforce. We educate a high number of first-generation students (36 percent of last year’s freshman class) and the diversity of our student population continues to outpace the state’s general population by a wide margin.

The exact numbers will not be available until September, but we look forward to welcoming around 4,000 freshman students to the Pullman campus this fall.

We appreciate all of our faculty and staff for playing important roles in grooming the next generation of Cougs!

Student Success Seed Grant to fund service-learning project

WSU faculty members are teaming up with the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) to promote first-year student success through service learning.

A Student Success Seed Grant from the Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs will fund the project, which focuses on engaging students through service learning – a high impact practice linked directly to student success.

The project’s initial stage will utilize an experimental design to provide local evidence of the efficacy of service learning as a student success and retention strategy. The experiment will offer comparisons on civic engagement outcomes, performance in the students’ biology course, and retention to sophomore year. The second year of the project will entail tests on whether different kinds of post-project reflection impact objective measures of student success.

The project is designed to impact the most vulnerable student groups for retention while providing the transformative experience articulated in the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan and the Drive to 25.

The grant proposal was selected due to its direct purpose of improving student persistence and completion outcomes at WSU, specifically addressing challenges for students who are at risk for not completing an undergraduate degree. The proposal displayed strong partnership and a plan for developing and scaling the project through external funding after the seed grant stage.

The Student Success Seed Grant proposals were reviewed by an independent panel of staff and faculty, as well as by the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

Paul Verrell, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is the principle investigator on the grant proposal. He is partnering with Melanie Brown, director of the CCE, and Lisa Carloye, clinical assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences.

The award of $24,250 will be used over 18 months and have a start date of July 1, 2017.

For further information about the 2017 Student Success Seed Grants, visit

Student success project takes flight

The University took action last year to launch several projects that support priorities articulated in the Strategic Plan, and reinforced by the Drive to 25. The resulting Grand Challenge research projects and Student Success project are underway, and already impacting their respective areas. Updates on the Grand Challenge research projects are forthcoming in the coming months.

The Transformative Change Initiative is making progress in developing infrastructures to best support students at WSU. In its pilot this spring, TCI reached more than 9,000 undergraduate students through more than 30 faculty members.

The TCI is a three-pronged initiative:

The Parent Student Handbook Intervention is underway, and receives additional support from a related research grant from the National Institute of Health. The team is crafting methodology, measures and analyses to revise the parent-student handbook. The handbook will support student success by providing parents and their WSU-bound children with interactive exercises, tools, and strategies for identifying core values, developing a sense of purpose, and engaging in values-based decision-making. Focus groups with parents and students are being conducted to gather feedback on revisions, and a sub-set of WSU-bound students will receive the revised parent-student handbook in fall of 2017.

As part of the Early Experience Intervention, TCI is advancing the first and second year undergraduate curriculum through the implementation of strategies known to improve academic persistence and success. A faculty development team and curriculum development teams are working with a cohort of faculty “innovators” across diverse disciplines in a series of training opportunities. Through the LIFT (Learn, Inspire, Foster, Transform) Program, faculty translate their instructional goals into pedagogical, behavioral, and curriculum changes known to increase student success and engagement. The program is centered around a four-part face-to-face workshop series on connection and belonging, values-based decision-making, mindfulness and self-compassion, and resiliency and growth mindset. The workshops are complemented by an online Blackboard course space where faculty engage in assessment questions and discussions regarding classroom implementation. Additional workshops on active learning and inquiry-based instruction are offered by the Office of Academic Outreach and Innovation. The curriculum team is creating online teaching modules scheduled for implementation in fall of 2017. The leadership team is also recruiting the first class of “Emerging Scholar Ambassadors,” who will serve as peer mentors and help students connect with experiential learning opportunities such as research, outreach, global education, creative activities, internships and intellectual competitions.

The research and assessment component of the TCI involves overseeing the design and execution of strategies to evaluate each component of the initiative as well as collecting preliminary data to pursue additional external funding opportunities. Literature reviews on both resiliency and pedagogical interventions helped form the framework for program implementation, and the protocol for assessing faculty development.

Three faculty searches associated with the initiative are ongoing, and a new faculty member in the College of Education will lead evaluation and research on the project at the institutional level. Additional capacity in the Office of Institutional Research will be added to assist with data tracking and analysis of TCI outcomes.

For more information on each component of the TCI, contact Laura Hill (Parent-Student Handbook intervention) at, Denise Yost (faculty development), or Sam Swindell (curriculum development) at

Grad Cougs get a leg up through PDI

Isaiah Hankel, “The Cheeky Scientist,” guides WSU graduate students through a workshop earlier this year. The workshop was a part of WSU’s innovative Professional Development Initiative.

Life as a graduate student can be singularly focused on developing specialized expertise. A new program is helping broaden perspectives for Cougar grad students often while providing useful resources for faculty as well.

Washington State University’s Professional Development Initiative brings the long view into sight with skill development, advice, and anecdotes on life after grad school.

“We want our students to be better students, but we also want them to be looking at their futures as well,” says Lisa Gloss, associate dean in the Graduate School. “How they succeed after grad school is a direct reflection on WSU.”

An ongoing series of workshops addresses a wide variety of topics, from working in academics, to balancing career and family life, to taxes. The series addresses traditional professional development, fused with personal development and skill development.

The Professional Development Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Graduate School, the Graduate Professional Student Association, and WSU’s academic colleges. By combining resources and perspectives, the program is relevant for students across disciplines and timelines.

“A number of our presenters tell us they wish they had this type of program as a graduate student,” says Davi Kallman, a graduate assistant in the Graduate School. “A lot of universities don’t have this.  We’re tapping into the strengths of individual departments, and by combining resources, we’re able to augment and enhance what departments are doing and fit them under our core components.”

Those core components – Academic and Career Development, Communication and Collaboration, Leadership and Professionalism, and Personal Wellbeing – were informed by student and faculty input. The events in the PDI lineup are sometimes specific to a particular field, but most can be applied universally.

Shantel Martinez, GPSA’s director of professional development says with the number of events on the calendar, it’s easy for students to find something that interests them.

“This year we have about 32 events,” Martinez says. “We used to have a leadership class during the spring, but we’d only reach 10 to 20 students per year. So far this year, our lowest attendance was 18, and sometimes we’ve had more than 100.”

Among the most popular events have been the “Industry Job Series,” by Dr. Isaiah Henkel (The Cheeky Scientist), and the “Versatile PhD,” series with Dr. Paula Chambers. On March 28, President Kirk Schulz and Professor Noel Schulz are presenting on, “Family, Career, and Fun – Lessons Learned as a Dual Career Couple.” On April 14-16, all students, faculty, and staff are invited to PDI’s workshop on, “Liberating Structures: Practical Ways to Invite Freedom and Responsibility in the Classroom, Boardroom, and Laboratory,” with special guest Fisher Qua.

Overall attendance for the year is closing in on 1,000, and nearly one in 10 grad students has attended a PDI event already. Grad students are able to livestream events, and the group is working to develop a video archive for those who cannot attend the live events.

The group is keeping close tabs on the results of the events. The Professional Development Advisory Council, to which the college deans appoint representatives, was formed to help assess the outcomes, and find ways to improve. The PDI syncs smoothly with the Strategic Plan’s “Transformative Student Experience,” and “Institutional Effectiveness,” themes.

For more information on the Professional Development Initiative, and to learn how you can get involved, visit

In appreciation of our faculty

Provost Dan Bernardo presented Featured Faculty members, including Nathalie Wall, left, and Dustin McLarty, right, at Cougar basketball games throughout the season. The Provost is also hosting the Faculty Crimson Club, middle, each month throughout the spring semester.

WSU has a tremendous faculty, dedicated to making our university the best that it can be. This is a fact that we should not take for granted. President Schulz has frequently noted this quality when he talks about WSU’s “can-do” spirit, and our nimbleness in embracing challenging projects such as the launch of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the INTO partnership.

Over the past couple of years, we have augmented our efforts to recognize the outstanding work and accomplishments of our faculty with new awards and recognition events.

One of the new recognitions is the Featured Faculty member at Cougar football and basketball games. Sunday night, during the final home basketball game – a win against the rival Dawgs – we honored our final Featured Faculty member for the year, Dr. Dustin McLarty, an assistant professor in the School of Materials and Mechanical Engineering. The week before, we recognized Dr. Nathalie Wall, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, who attended her first sporting event during her career at WSU. You can see a full summary of all of those recognized through the Featured Faculty Member program at

A popular event we have added on the Pullman campus is the Faculty Crimson Club, held once a month. This event, held in the Club Level of Martin Stadium, provides a venue for faculty to meet in a casual, social environment and get to know one another. Attendance has continued to grow, and I would encourage everyone to give it a try; I think you will find it a fun and worthwhile time. We have heard from some faculty who work at campuses other than Pullman that they would like to see a similar event on their campus. We will be working with the chancellors to bring the Crimson Club to these campuses sometime in the coming months.

Of course, the signature event to honor and recognize our faculty’s accomplishments is Academic Showcase, which takes place the week of March 27-31, concluding with the Celebrating Excellence Recognition Banquet on Friday night. If you have not taken in some of the Showcase events, I would encourage you to do so. The events are always inspiring and make one proud to be a Coug. The full calendar can be found at

I understand that the most important way we can show appreciation to our faculty is to provide them a quality environment in which they can pursue their scholarship and help educate the next generation of leaders. We will always strive to do better in achieving this objective, but sometimes the little things, like those mentioned above, are also important in making sure that our faculty feel appreciated for the great job they do.

Teaching Innovation Forum coming up

Sola Adesope will be one of the featured presenters at the Teaching Innovation Forum on Feb. 20.

If you’re an instructor looking for ways to engage with the University’s Drive to 25 and the Strategic Plan, next week’s Teaching Innovation Forum is a great place to start.

Teaching is central to our mission as a University. It’s a challenging job, but an incredibly rewarding one when we’re able to connect with students and see the transformative experience before our eyes.

We know that an engaging teacher can bring subjects to life for students. Most of us involved in higher education had at least one, and usually multiple instructors who served as inspiration for our career paths.

Our 2015 National Survey of Student Engagement data shows that WSU scores well compared with our peers when it comes to student-faculty interactions. It’s a sign that our dedicated faculty are motivating our students, and providing a stimulating teaching experience.

Faculty are encouraged to pursue lifelong learning, not only in their fields of expertise, but also in the field of teaching. The Teaching Innovation Forum is a great way to explore new teaching techniques, hone and refresh your skills, and share ideas with colleagues.

The Office of Academic Outreach and Innovation will host the Teaching Forum on February 20 in CUE 518 and 512. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and includes a networking lunch, courtesy of AOI.

The days’ topics are varied, but instructors will find them practical and informative. WSU faculty will present on: “Teaching International Students,” “Backward Redesign of Courses,” “How to Engage Students Using the Experiential Learning Model,” and, “Teaching and Learning with Concept Maps.”

Please RSVP for the Teaching Innovation Forum before Friday, Feb. 17.

If you have comments or questions about this post, or any other matter concerning the Office of the Provost, please email to

Advisors take turn in the spotlight

The transformative student experience that we aim to provide every Washington State University student requires a team effort from faculty, staff, and the WSU community. And some of the MVPs on our team are our academic advisors.

President Schulz and I had the pleasure of honoring our academic advisors in Pullman last week at the Year of the Advisor reception. It was a chance to shine a spotlight on the excellent work our advisors are doing, and celebrate the challenges they’re overcoming in guiding our students.

Advisors’ jobs have changed dramatically over the past few years. They’ve embraced SSC Campus, our online advising platform. Despite the learning curve, the SSC Campus platform is beginning to positively impact our students. For example, the vast majority of our students can now book appointments with their advisors online, and enhancements are on the way that will enable advisors to refer students to tutoring and other student services, all online. By meeting our students in this online space, advisors are providing excellent service, and they’re doing it efficiently.

We established the University Academic Advising Executive Council in 2015, and it is making major strides in establishing standards and organization for our advising community. A great number of advisors are engaged in leading their peers through training, putting in place new advising roles and guidelines, and organizing professional development events.

While we largely employ a decentralized advising model, with students being advised within the department or college of their major, it is absolutely critical that our advisors’ primary objective is the retention and success of the student at WSU. Therefore, our advisors (and all of us) must work as a team, assuring that students are successful, regardless of academic major or field of study.

Advisors are a big part of helping students transition to WSU. They’re playing a major role in advancing our goals of increasing our freshman retention rates, and ultimately, our graduation rates – the foremost indicators when it comes to the transformative student experience.

Our advisors are more efficient, more technologically savvy, and more data-informed than they’ve ever been. Please join me in offering kudos to our academic advisors, who serve as linchpins to student success at WSU.

If you have comments or questions about this post, or any other matter relating to the Office of the Provost, please email to

Happy Holidays, and thank you for a great semester

The holidays give us a chance to reflect on the past year and as Cougars, we have many reasons to feel proud. I hope the winter break gives you a chance to enjoy time with loved ones, cheer on our Cougars in the Holiday Bowl, and aspire to new goals in 2017.

Thank you to our faculty, staff, and students for your dedication to our land grant mission and your devotion to provide students with a transformative experience at WSU. Here is a quick look back on some of our highlights from the fall semester:

  • In this, the Year of the Advisor, our academic advisors have pursued outstanding work, and in new, innovative ways:
    • Leadership developed and approved a set of “Core Advising Responsibilities” to help define and refine advisors’ roles in student success.
    • A revamped training program for advisors is in place, and training sessions are beginning this month.
    • Through SSC Campus, our new online advising platform, students booked more than 20,000 online appointments this fall. More than 70 percent of our students now can schedule advising appointments online. Look for more details coming soon regarding our Year of the Advisor reception on Jan. 31 in the CUB.
    • The Equitable Advising pilot, an effort to prioritize advising resources in the places they’re needed most, is underway and assessment will determine if the program warrants expansion.
    • Congratulations and appreciation to the following individuals, who earned Advising Awards this fall from the WSU Academic Advising Association: Robin Bond – Faculty Advisor; Kasey Schertenleib – Advising Administrator; Matthew Jeffries – New Advisor; and Doug Juneau – Primary Advising.
  • Faculty, staff, and students are teaming up to find new and innovative ways to provide better value when it comes to course materials. Explore these exciting opportunities for faculty in the area of open education resources, including an Open Textbook Workshop on March 6, and applications for Affordable Learning Grants, open through February 15.
  • Outstanding faculty members were honored at Cougar football home games for the second year, receiving well-deserved cheers from fans. The following individuals were honored this fall: Terri Levien and Marin Maquivar, Kartina Mealey and Benjamin Shors, Jesus Bravo and Sandy Carollo, Sandy Cooper and Gay Selby, Mary Gilles and Carl Heine, and John Petrie and Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe. Read up on all of our Featured Faculty Members, and look for more throughout the basketball season.
  • Our students navigated the new, earlier FAFSA deadline thanks to outstanding effort from Student Financial Services and partners across WSU. More than 22,000 students have turned in FAFSAs for 2017-18. As they return for the spring semester, please remind students of the WSU General Scholarship Application deadline on Jan. 31, 2017.
  • Thanks to your efforts we received encouraging news regarding freshman retention in October, with a slight improvement overall. We are committed to continuous improvement in this area, and are working to implement tools that will help students feel comfortable, and empowered to reach their goals at WSU.
  • Overall student enrollment climbed to a record 30,142 for the fall semester, an all-time high for WSU, and our class of new students is well prepared academically.

We look forward to sharing more success stories, and hearing about the great work happening in your area of WSU, in 2017. Happy holidays, and Go Cougs!

If you have comments or questions about this communication, or any other matters concerning the Office of the Provost, please email to

Undergraduate research: A WSU hallmark

Providing opportunities to participate in research and creative activities marks a fundamental aspect of WSU’s commitment to provide undergraduate students with a truly transformational college experience.

Hundreds of our world-class faculty members mentor undergraduate students to offer an experience few institutions can match. Students benefit from these hands-on lessons in numerous ways: working in teams, creative problem solving, exploring potential careers, mentorship from faculty members, and better understanding of others’ research.

Oscar Ulloa, who plans to graduate this spring, says he’s found many opportunities after graduation thanks to his undergraduate research experience in food science labs.

“It’s been great. Whenever I have an interview, the employers and graduate schools always like to see that I’ve done research,” says Ulloa, who would like to work in the wine industry. “It’s something that shows you’re not just going through the motions to get your degree, you’re getting involved.”

In some cases, students are able to land funding for research. In November, 25 undergraduates landed scholarships – typically $1,000 – funded by the Auvil Scholars Fellowship, and the Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research Endowed Excellence Fund.

National studies consistently show students involved in research graduate at a significantly higher rate than those who do not participate. Hands-on experience often enhances and expands on class subjects.

“There are many cases in which students aren’t really excited about their field of study, but they start doing research and recognize that they are connecting classroom material with what they’re doing in the lab,” says Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “In a lot of cases, their GPAs will increase.”

Sydney Roberts says research stoked her interest in a career as a physician and continues to bolster her confidence.

“It definitely deepened my experience and my understanding of my field in general,” says Roberts, a neuroscience major. “My dream job is to be a family physician, but I’d like to somehow do research on the side. Research has given me the confidence to pursue a PhD, or M.D. I have the confidence now to know I can take the next step and that’s definitely something I would not have gotten if I wouldn’t have been involved in research.”

Research experience isn’t limited to science and technology majors. There are undergraduate research opportunities in every college and every major. In non-scientific fields, “research” may take the form of scholarly or creative activities. The benefits for both faculty and students are still significant.

“For faculty, it’s a great opportunity to recruit potential graduate students, and it’s also a way for faculty to broaden participation in their research, to engage with students from outside their discipline,” Pressley says. “Sometimes undergraduates are more productive, and more engaged. We have pre-research programs to give students basic skills so that they can hit the ground running.”

Hector Aguilar-Carreno, an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, works with undergraduates in his virology lab.

“Usually when they come into the lab, they know very little about research, but it’s wonderful to see them go from knowing nothing to being authors on papers and becoming independent thinkers,” Aguilar-Carreno says. “They vary wildly in their interests and research is not for everyone, but some really grow and it’s exciting to see. I’ve had students go on to PhD programs at Harvard, the University of Chicago and Yale, and I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”

The sixth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) will be held Monday, March 27. Online applications for SURCA are available now, and are due Feb. 21. The event continues to grow at a steady pace. Last spring, a record 235 students presented abstracts. Faculty can volunteer as judges, which Pressley says is a great way for them to realize the capabilities of undergraduate researchers.

Pressley developed a passion for research as an undergraduate through a summer research program at the University of Maine. Now she’s able to expose undergraduates to pass along the transformative power of research and hands-on experience.

“Research transformed my career as an undergraduate. It made a huge impact,” Pressley says. “All of these experiences students have really prepare them for careers, or for graduate school. They’re developing skills that employers are looking for, beyond what they learn in the classroom.”

Visit the Office of Undergraduate Research for more information, and other opportunities to connect with undergraduate research.

If you have questions or comments on this post, or other matters regarding the Office of the Provost, please email to

Fill out the FAFSA by Nov. 30

In 2015, President Obama took action to change the timeline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students now use their prior year’s tax information to fill out the FAFSA, and the priority deadline is November 30.

After more than a year of preparation, WSU’s Office of Student Financial Services is seeing a strong response to the change. More than half of our students have already filled out their 2017 FAFSA. They should expect an earlier, more accurate picture of their anticipated financial aid and college costs for next year.

Nearly 80 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid, and the first step to receiving aid is filling out the FAFSA. Even relatively small financial challenges can hinder students’ progress toward graduation, which is one more reason for them to file their FAFSA before the Nov. 30 deadline.

In Pullman, ASWSU partnered with SFS to host a FAFSA/WAFSA Pizza Feed on Thursday in the CUB Junior Ballroom. Similar events at our other campuses are helping students get answers to their financial aid questions, and get help with their FAFSA/WAFSA, while enjoying a slice of pie.

Faculty, please download the FAFSA Slide and share it with your students before the end of the month. It could make a big difference.

For more information, visit

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