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Office of the Provost From the Provost

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

Faculty: Order textbooks before Oct. 28 to save students money

The Office of the Provost is partnering with students, faculty, and staff to explore and implement ways to save students money on textbooks and classroom materials.

One of the simplest ways faculty can help is by submitting textbook orders for future terms as early as possible. Submitting orders for the spring 2017 semester by Oct. 28 allows the Bookie to buy back students’ used books at a higher rate. Students are able to recoup more of their money spent on textbooks.

There are many ways faculty members can submit textbook orders:

  • Call the Bookie at 509-335-2537
  • Email your textbook request to
  • Stop by the Bookie and ask for Regina
  • Request a time when a Bookie staff member can come to your office to meet
  • Use the Enlight online program to submit book orders, and research textbooks or other course materials.

Costs of textbooks and classroom materials are a barrier to academic success for many students. We appreciate the dedication of student groups, as well as faculty and staff, for working quickly to come up with resources and tools designed to minimize classroom materials costs.

Visit for information on how open education resources are gaining currency at WSU through partnerships and collaboration. There are a number of ways faculty can engage in the effort, including an Open Textbook Workshop coming up in January.

Please make every effort to submit your textbook orders by Oct. 28, and thank you for all you do to support the success of our students.

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


Advisors play key role in student success

Academic advisors have always played a central role in the success of our students. A rapid increase in our student population, including more first-generation students, has elevated the importance of our advisors even more.

That is why, in 2016-17, we’re celebrating the Year of the Advisor. We aim to recognize their contributions and strengths, along with the challenges they face, and are overcoming, through working together, embracing new technologies and taking on new responsibilities.

Advisors are true liaisons among faculty, the University’s administrative systems, support staff and students. They’re sources of support, guidance and wisdom for students who sometimes need a calming voice, especially early in their college careers. In short, advisors are the linchpin for student success.

Many advisors are serving more students, and helping them navigate more challenges, than ever before. In addition, as decentralization has altered the advising structure in recent years, advisors have responded in innovative ways. Individually and together with other staff and faculty they are making a difference for WSU students.

No longer do advisors simply schedule classes for students. They use technology to track students’ progress toward graduation, and intervene when they veer off track. They reach out to targeted groups of students at strategic times to efficiently and effectively boost their success rates. And advisors work together across departments and colleges to share best practices and support one another.

We’ve made key investments in tools for advisors. Student Success Collaborative Campus launched earlier this year, offering powerful communication and outreach capabilities. Students can now log in online and schedule appointments with their advisors in SSC Campus, if the advisors have synced their Outlook calendars. The majority of our advisors across WSU are using SSC Campus, and we have a team of advisors and staff working to provide training and support. Visit for more details.

The University Academic Advising Executive Council provides oversight to advising across all campuses and is developing a training protocol that will ensure advisors are well equipped to serve our students.

The Guide mobile app will launch in 2017, giving advisors—and other staff and faculty—another powerful tool to connect with students. Advisors, and other student support staff and faculty can prompt students at key times throughout the year to point them to WSU resources and services that can help them when they need it most.

Everyone from faculty to staff to fellow students can and must play a role in student support. We’re working to make awareness of, and referrals to student support services a smooth, seamless process. Our goal is to provide students a smooth pathway to a university degree, and that takes coordination and cooperation across departments, colleges, campuses, and student support units.

The Year of the Advisor is about recognizing the remarkable job our WSU advisors are doing, but also joining them in supporting student success. When we all work together, we can help each of our students reach their goals.

Thank you to our advisors, who are leading the way!

Welcome back Cougs!

Students make Washington State University a unique, vibrant, life-changing place. It’s been that way since the first students stepped on campus in 1890.

As the provost, I lead the academic enterprise of WSU. I work with our faculty, staff and leadership to uphold our land grant mission – to serve you as students and provide a transformative educational experience.

Making the dream of a college degree a reality takes dedication, hard work and resiliency. Take advantage of resources at every campus designed to help you at each stage along your journey. To start:

  • Download the myWSU mobile app. It will give you quick access to myWSU from anywhere, and it has a great interactive map.
  • Read your WSU text messages. You may receive important text messages from WSU with emergency notifications, or important dates and deadlines. You opt in to receive texts from WSU at registration and may opt out at any time via text. If this process is unclear, please notify us at
  • Take note of the early financial aid deadline. About 4 out of every 5 WSU students receive financial aid. It’s critical to know about the earlier release of the Federal Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). It will be available Oct. 1 and will be due Nov. 30 for returning students. You will use your 2015 tax information to fill out the FAFSA. Click here for further information.
  • Visit This one-stop-resource can help you find the help you need for academics, health and wellness, student involvement, and much more. Don’t hesitate to ask a question if you can’t find what you need.
  • Flip open The A Game. It is worth the time. Every new WSU student received a copy because these tips have been shown to make a difference. If you have questions about The A Game, email You can also contact a tutor if you’d like additional help academically.

We’re excited to welcome you to the Cougar family, and we are committed to helping you achieve your academic goals. You are why our faculty and staff are here!

Go Cougs!

Faculty at the heart of WSU’s mission

I hope you’ve had a restful and reinvigorating summer. Students are flooding back to our campuses and their energy and enthusiasm are contagious. The fall semester is nearly upon us, and there is no more engaging time of year for those of us involved in higher education. We are pleased to have President Schulz with us as we begin a new academic year, and are excited about the direction we’re headed under his guidance.

The Office of the Provost is committed to supporting faculty, who are the primary contributors to providing students the transformative experience that reflects our land grant mission. If you did not see WSU’s recent ranking by Money Magazine as the top public institution in the United States in terms of “adding value” for students, please read the story. It’s a great testament to the exceptional work by our faculty and staff. It’s also encouraging to know that our dedication makes a profound difference in the lives of our students.

The Office of the Provost will be holding several events throughout the semester designed to engage and recognize faculty. We want to do a better job recognizing the achievements of our faculty in all areas. We’ll continue honoring “Featured Faculty” at football and basketball games throughout the year and holding several other events to engage with faculty. Two of the first of these events will be the Faculty Crimson Club at Martin Stadium on August 24 and a reception for Faculty Senate members with the Board of Regents on September 15. President Schulz and I will also being holding town hall meetings with each college’s faculty through September and October.

There are some important news items that faculty should make note of before the semester gets underway:

  • Hundreds of WSU staff members have completed Crimson Spirit Customer Service training since the program was introduced earlier this summer. The training provides great reminders about how we can continue to make the Cougar experience special for students, campus visitors, and each other. I would encourage everyone to attend this training, live or online, and recognize outstanding colleagues by nominating them for a Crimson Spirit Award.
  • Our students have asked us to explore ways to reduce classroom materials costs, and we’re taking action. WSU was recently accepted into both the OpenStax project, and the Open Textbook Network. There is a team in place to work with faculty to develop their own OERs, or use existing OERs in their classes. Learn more at or email
  • Within the next week, every WSU faculty member should receive a “toolkit” to promote use of The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades. Please use these slides and talking points with your students as you see fit. Every new student for the past three years has received a copy of the book, and we believe the tips and tools in The A Game can improve their rates of academic success. If you have questions regarding The A Game, please email to
  • Instructor’s photos now appear in myWSU’s class lists, by default. Instructors may opt to restrict their photo from displaying using the Self Service menu, navigating to Campus Personal Information, then to the Instructor Contact Restriction page and checking the box to restrict the photo. For technical assistance, email to
  • The majority of our students rely on financial aid, which means they must fill out the FAFSA. The new, earlier deadline for the FAFSA is Nov. 30. Please help us get this message out to students, especially when the FAFSA becomes available on Oct. 1.

Thank you for making WSU a transformative place for students. Please reach out to us with your questions and comments at

Go Cougs!