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Student Success Seed Grant Program proposals welcomed

The Office of the Provost and the Division of Student Affairs are pleased to welcome proposals for the 2017 Student Success Seed Grant Program.

All faculty and staff are eligible to submit proposals for the program, which is designed to support the development, replication, and dissemination of innovative solutions that address widespread challenges in postsecondary education for students who are at risk for not completing an undergraduate degree. A specific focus of the program is to improve student persistence and completion outcomes at Washington State University. Successful proposals for Student Success Seed Grants will demonstrate a clear plan for securing subsequent major external funding to continue, expand, and advance interventions.

Achieving our student success goals requires a continuous commitment to innovation and excellence, an intentional effort to align interventions with institutional strategy, and a shared vision enabling collaboration across our institution. To help facilitate this, accrued funding from the 2016 reallocation is being extended in order to invite new applications for the Student Success Seed Grant Program.

Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator eligibility is consistent with University policy developed by the Office of Research. Because many external submissions require PIs and teams with expertise in research, evaluation, theory, and practice, the strength of the personnel and collaboration involved will be considered when funding proposals. In addition, Seed Grant proposals are required to incorporate partnerships with either the Office of Undergraduate Education or Division of Student Affairs.

Leading up to the proposal deadline, the Office of the Provost and the Division of Student Affairs will host two technical workshops for those interested in submitting proposals. The workshops will be held March 30 at 10 a.m. and March 31 at 3 p.m., in CUE 518. Please contact Angela Merrill to RSVP for either workshop.

Student Success Seed Grants have a project period of 18 months and include a development stage and a scale-up stage. Award maximum is $25,000 for the total project period. Proposals are due April 14, 2017.

For more information, please visit Please questions to

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

Freshman retention numbers improving

Washington State University retained 78.9 percent of freshmen students system-wide from 2015 to 2016, an improvement of one percent from the previous year.

We are happy to see improvement in this area and dedicated to making sure every student admitted to WSU is afforded every opportunity to earn a degree. Thank you to the faculty, staff and other WSU community members who have worked to effect the changes that have increased our students’ success rates.

On the WSU Pullman campus, 3,354 students from the 2015 entering class of 4,220 returned to WSU for the fall semester. This reflects an improvement of 1.2 percent over 2014, to 79.5 percent. Retention rates also improved on almost all of WSU’s non-Pullman campuses, where the smaller numbers overall can create larger fluctuations that make year-to-year figures more difficult to interpret. We saw improvements across nearly all student groups, including first-generation, under-represented groups, and honors students.

The system-wide engagement of our faculty, and staff and administrators has been key to increased student success. Their focus on engaging students early in their academic journeys and finding ways to connect them with valuable resources on our campuses has enabled students to more proactively anticipate and meet their needs.

We are investing in technology to improve communication with students, and to provide the right resources at the right times. We’re also expanding mentor programs and undergraduate research programs proven to increase students’ chances of earning degrees at WSU. Faculty are exploring ways to use open-education and lower-cost course materials, with support from Provost seed grants, the Office of Academic Outreach and Innovation, and the OpenStax project. Please continue to do all you can to help with these efforts and to ensure that more students find success at Washington State University. You can find more information at

With your help we will provide a “top-25” instructional experience for our students. We’re committed to giving all Cougars every opportunity to reach their academic goals.

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


Enrollment eclipses 30,000 with a strong class of new Cougars

I am pleased to provide a report on student enrollment for fall semester, 2016. The tenth day of classes marks our official student census date, and hence, our official student counts have been finalized. Total enrollment across the WSU system eclipsed the 30,000 student mark for the first time in the history of our University and totaled 30,142, a 1.5 percent increase from 2015. In Pullman, total fall semester enrollment is 20,193 (17,527 undergraduate, 2,209 graduate, and 457 professional).

This fall, we nearly hit our Pullman new freshmen target of 4,000 spot on with an enrollment of 3,991. This number is intentionally lower than 2015, when we saw a greater number of admitted students enroll, resulting in 4,220 new freshmen. New transfer students increased about 2 percent to a total of 1,171.

More important than the absolute numbers is the composition of our new cohort of students. As you may know, Enrollment Management (including recruiting, admissions, student financial services, and new student programs) moved under the Provost’s Office in summer 2014. Since that time, we have focused on maintaining an enrollment target of 4,000 new freshmen in Pullman, while maintaining diversity, ensuring access for first-generation students, and increasing the academic preparedness of our students. It is important to note that it is not our intention to be exclusive. WSU has embraced a high-access mission, consistent with its land-grant ideals. The current freshman class includes 36 percent first-generation college students and 35 percent minority students. Incoming transfer students are comprised of 41 and 31 percent of first-generation and minority students, respectively.

We have made significant progress on ensuring our students arrive prepared to succeed. The average high school GPA (HSGPA) of the incoming class has increased over each of the last three years, with this year’s class having an average HSGPA of 3.4. In addition, over 86 percent of the class has a HSGPA of 3.0 or greater. For the first time in many years, the Pullman campus had a waiting list of nearly 500 students. Enrollment demand was so high that we were able to meet our target without dipping into this list, all of whom would have been admitted based upon criteria used two years ago.

We are proud to welcome a diverse cohort of students ready to navigate the rigors of academic life at a comprehensive public research institution. I am happy to inform you that we have done good work increasing the number of high-achieving students in our incoming classes. For example, the number of students falling in the Q-value (a combination of HSGPA and SAT score) of 2,800 or higher (our definition of a “very high achieving” student), has increased over 40 percent in the last two years.

Our attention to high school GPA has resulted from analyses of student performance over the past 10 years. We have found that HSGPA is one of the best predictors of student success, and a significant percentage of admitted students falling into the lower HSGPA ranges have not been continuing into year two. It is important to keep in mind that other variables also play key roles, such as unmet financial need, health and family issues, and engagement with faculty and community. Your dedicated instruction and mentoring are especially vital to our students’ success.

In two short years, we have made major progress in changing the outcomes of our recruiting and enrollment activities. This improvement has been achieved through a team effort, obviously involving the great work of our Enrollment Management team, but also faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and administrators pitching in to help recruit future Cougars and mentor them after they enroll. We will need to continue this effort to further advance our enrollment efforts and ensure that entering students successfully become Cougar alumni. Thank you for your contributions.

Text message policy now in place

The Office of the Provost has established a text messaging policy regarding communication with WSU students. WSU entities can text message students, with Provost approval, about matters relating to health and safety, academic success, and items that are critical to WSU’s mission.

The policy is designed to respect and maintain students’ right to privacy, while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in communicating with students about important matters. Students may opt out of all text messaging at registration, starting with Spring 2017 registration, and all text messages from WSU entities will include simple opt-out instructions.

Student phone numbers are not shared with any WSU entity without approval from the Office of the Provost, and WSU business-related text messages are considered public records. The sender is responsible for retention of text messages sent to multiple recipients.

WSU units seeking to communicate with students via text message must submit the Text Messaging Approval Form. The Text Message Policy website has further information, best practices for using text messages, and examples of information needed for the approval form.

Former top military advisor: Strategic atrophy plagues U.S.


By Linda Weiford, WSU News

Retired four-star general James Mattis, who once led the United States’ most high-profile military command, addressed a large audience at Washington State University on Tuesday with a word of warning: Turmoil in the Middle East is getting worse and it won’t improve soon.

As a Marine Corps combat veteran in charge of U.S. Central Command 2010-13, Mattis oversaw military operations in areas that included the hot spots of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the Provost’s Invited Address, sponsored by WSU’s Office of the Provost, he said the White House must take a “strategic, historically sound approach,” in supporting peace and prosperity in the Middle East. “The strategy-free stance is not working,” he told the crowd, and the solution is about more than fighting battles.

The next president should focus on keeping America safe by implementing a strategy that includes strengthening and broadening our foreign allies, said Mattis. He cited the crucial role of the United Nations and NATO countries in upholding international norms to oppose extremists who support terrorism.

“’There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them,” he said, quoting Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. “The problems emanating from the Middle East can’t be contained in the Middle East,” he said, emphasizing the importance of “finding counties abroad who will stand up with us.”

Building allies will demonstrate a mission of common interest to terrorists and also project strength – and a degree of humility – he said.

“We need those outside relationships. We need to stay engaged in the world and resist isolationism,” he said.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Mattis was born in Pullman and graduated from Central Washington State University in 1972. Nicknamed the “warrior monk” for his legendary part- soldier and part-scholar ethos, he recently declined bids to run as a third party presidential candidate.

Revered ‘warrior monk’ general to speak at WSU

Contact: Kristina Peterson-Wilson, WSU Office of the Provost, 509-335-8915,  

PULLMAN, Wash. – Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis – who recently declined bids to enter the U.S. presidential election as a third-party candidate – will present a free, public talk at Washington State University at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, in the CUB junior ballroom.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis

Widely recognized as a straight-talking yet humble man of brilliance and strategic insight, he will discuss efforts that the United States should and should not undertake to support peace and prosperity in the Middle East. 

Born in Pullman and raised in Richland, Wash., Mattis served 40 years in the Marine infantry, much of it in the Middle East. He commanded the U.S. Joint Forces Command and later served as head of Central Command until his retirement in 2013. He is a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. 

He has never married and he earned the nickname “warrior monk” from those who served under him because he devoted his life to studying and fighting war.

His address: “A Way Ahead for the United States in the Middle East” will be broadcast via AMS (videoconference) for remote participants. His visit is sponsored by WSU’s Office of the Provost. For more information, go to:

Find this news release at WSU News online at

National publication ranks WSU near the top in ‘adding value’ for students

Multicultural Student Services Graduation Celebration 2015
Multicultural Student Services Graduation Celebration 2015

The transformative power of WSU is sometimes tough to encapsulate, but it lies at the heart of WSU’s land grant mission.

Money Magazine captured some of WSU’s transformative value in its list of “Best Colleges” earlier this month. WSU ranked No. 4 on Money’s list of “The 50 Colleges that Add the Most Value,” and is the highest ranked public institution on the list.

Overall, WSU ranked No. 37 on Money’s “Best Colleges” list, among roughly 2,000 four-year U.S. colleges and universities. To compile its rankings, the magazine used 24 factors in the categories of educational quality, affordability and alumni success. For the “Colleges that Add the Most Value” list, consideration included graduation rates and feedback from alumni surveys.

“What’s impressive is when a college helps students do far better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds (something we measure with what we call a comparative-value grade),” the introduction to the list reads. “For this list, we ranked colleges based on comparative value grades for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment, eliminating schools with any negative grades or a graduate rate below 50%.”

The rankings reflect WSU’s Strategic Plan goals of providing a truly transformative experience for our students. Numerous departments, programs and groups lead the way to add value to the WSU experience through academic and co-curricular opportunities.

“We have a set of programs that engage students as partners, to serve other students,” says J. Manuel Acevedo, who heads our Office of Multicultural Student Services. “As we engage those students, we operate in a direction that is really professional training. We work with 120-140 students every year and those students are challenged to grow and really be professionals in training.”

The award-winning Team Mentoring Program is making a difference for students in STEM fields.

“Those that engage in the Team Mentoring Program are staying in school at much higher rates,” Acevedo says. “Many are doing undergraduate research. The mentors help mentees identify research projects, and get into labs. They’re providing a truly transformative experience.”

The North Puget Sound at Everett campus is growing at a rapid pace as students discover the vast opportunities available, both while they’re in school and post-graduation.

“WSU North Puget Sound at Everett is student and community-centered,” Dean Paul Pitre says. “Our programs are aligned to the economic demands of the state and region, meaning our graduates are well-positioned to find employment and excel in high-paying careers.”

WSU continues to climb in several national rankings reflecting the student experience. Diverse Magazine ranked WSU No. 26 for graduating minority students. U.S. News & World Report consistently names WSU’s Writing Program one of the Top 20 in the nation, and MSN considers Pullman a “Top 10 College Town.”

The scope of the categories and criteria for these rankings show that WSU’s dedication to the transformative student experience pays dividends for our students inside and outside the classroom. As faculty, staff and the University community align to set students up for rewarding careers after graduation, our alumni are reaping the value of the WSU experience.

“I am appreciative of the dedication and skill of our faculty and staff,” says Provost Dan Bernardo. “Like our students, our faculty and staff choose to be here at WSU, and they do so largely because they care about the whole package of research excellence and instructional excellence. In short, they are here for our students, and it shows.”

WSU-Pullman Campus may host SFCC classes in 2017

Washington State University is exploring a partnership with Community Colleges of Spokane that could provide classroom space for CCS students on WSU’s Pullman campus as early as January.

The two institutions seek to better serve CCS’ Pullman students, many of whom share the goal of attending WSU once they complete their community college coursework.

“We believe this partnership will help smooth the transition for community college students who aspire to earn a four-year degree,” said Erica Austin, WSU Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with one of Washington state’s premier community colleges in providing students in our state additional access to a bachelor’s degree and all of the opportunities our state’s higher education system has to offer.”

Earlier this year, Spokane Falls Community College leadership announced that budget reductions could result in restructuring or reducing course offerings in Pullman. Currently, SFCC and SCC offer courses in Pullman’s Gladish Community and Cultural Center.
The goal is for SFCC and SCC to relocate to WSU’s Kruegel Hall so their faculty can begin offering courses there in January 2017 in classrooms not currently dedicated for use by WSU faculty. The community college district already has numerous direct transfer agreements with WSU.

WSU and SFCC faculty and staff collaborating on work groups will continue to develop implementation details, and both institutions expect the partnership will provide mutual benefits and increased access for students seeking higher education opportunities in Whitman County. SFCC serves about 175 students per quarter in Pullman, and about 70 percent of those students previously attended WSU and plan to return.

“I believe we have turned our budget crisis into an opportunity that will result in better services and expanded opportunities for our students,” said SFCC President Janet Gullickson. “WSU already is an excellent partner for our transfer students, and having classrooms on their campus will streamline that pathway.”

A memorandum of understanding regarding the partnership is scheduled to be presented to the SFCC Board of Trustees and the WSU Board of Regents in November.

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

WSU selected for OpenStax program

Washington State University is one of 11 institutions across the U.S. selected to take part in the national Open Educational Resource Institutional Partnership Program, a project that could save students thousands of dollars each year.

The program, operated by Rice University’s OpenStax Publishing, is designed to provide free consultation and resources for schools wanting to increase the use of OER on campus, and to build a community of institutions dedicated to lowering the cost of course materials using OER.

“Our students have shown leadership and vision for galvanizing a university-wide effort to lowering classroom material costs and this is a great step in that direction,” says WSU Provost Dan Bernardo. “Our opportunity to join the OER Institutional Partnership Program resulted from the diligence of the classroom materials cost reduction task force, and we’re excited about the potential benefits for our students and faculty.”

The program saved students at 15 institutions a combined $42 million in the 2015-16 academic year. For WSU, the estimated savings per year after successful completion of the program is $424,000.

“It’s up to faculty to choose whether the open textbook route makes sense for their course,” says Michael Caulfield, Director of Blended and Networked Learning at WSU. “Often it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But we want to make using open materials as easy as choosing a commercial textbook, so that faculty who want to go open, can.”

WSU was selected from a pool of 43 applicants for the program. It will provide a customized strategic plan to increase OER use on campus, 10 hours of tech support for using, editing or adding to OpenStax books or content from OpenStax CNX, at least one campus visit from an OpenStax representative, and additional support.

“We’ve seen significant demand for this program,” said Nicole Finkbeiner, associate director for institutional relations at OpenStax. “Each partner school has demonstrated a desire to replace costly textbooks with as many open educational resources, including OpenStax textbooks, as possible. We’re thrilled to offer these institutions the support they need to make college more accessible and affordable for their students.”

A WSU task force made up of students, faculty and staff put together plans and recommendations to reduce classroom material costs, and the OpenStax program is aimed at addressing many of the objectives in the task force’s report.

Faculty, staff or students interested in participating, or getting more information about the OpenStax program should contact Michael Caulfield or Rebecca Van De Vord.

The OpenStax OER Institutional Partnership Program is made possible by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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