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NASH Newsletter – April 2018

April 30, 2018

NASH National Association of System Heads logo


​In its second year, the ACE-NASH Leadership Academy​ this month brought together leaders from a wide swath of institutions from Alaska to Maine to discuss one of the highest priorities facing U.S. systems and campuses: improving student success.

The Academy, held January 17-18 in Washington, DC, is designed to support systems in the development of high-performing teams that facilitate large-scale change, enhance campus and system performance, and scale best practices across multiple campuses. Participants worked as system-based teams and focused on leading change efforts that are known to enhance student success through a multilateral approach, considering relationships between system and campus leaders as well as among the campuses themselves.

“Public university systems are critical social and economic drivers that educate approximately three-quarters of the nation’s bachelor degree seeking students,” said Rebecca Martin, executive director at the National Association of System Heads (NASH), which held the Academy jointly with ACE. “As such, leaders are needed to harness the collective resources of the campuses to improve student success, address local and global challenges, and improve operational efficiencies.”

Some key takeaways from the Academy are:

  • The collective impact of work done by systems can be significant, but it requires sharing of ideas and innovative practices at both the intra- and inter-campus levels.
  • Engaging students is critical to understanding their goals and needs. Their insights allow institutions to design culturally sensitive and relevant strategies for support.
  • Data is vital to student success, but it has to be analyzed at both the system and campus level in order for it to be relevant and actionable.
  • Surveys alone are not enough. Campuses and systems have to ask for the “why” behind certain findings in order to understand students’ needs and develop a corresponding plan to address them.

Speakers at the Academy shared insights and strategies with participants. Tristan Denley, executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University System of Georgia, spoke to the impact of integrating multiple strategies to achieve a comprehensive approach to student success. Building on his prior work at the Tennessee Board of Regents, he demonstrated the power of aggregating data at the system level to reduce some of the “noise” found in institutional-level data around barrier courses. His current research on creating a productive academic mindset across a diverse set of campuses provided another example of the collective impact of a system approach to student success.

Aaron Thompson, executive vice president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, spoke to reaching diversity, inclusion, and equity goals. He suggested that participants leverage the tools and information available through their systems in order to create systematic change. Reaching quantitative goals—like increasing graduation rates for students of color—could be achieved with qualitative changes, such as recruiting more faculty of color; providing training focused on instructor competencies rather than just subject-matter expertise; or adding diversity goals into strategic plan language.

Participants also discussed the importance of leadership diversity at the system level as crucial to campus success. There is a need for system heads to show a full commitment to diversity and inclusion in order for institutions to really invest in it, and the commitment must be both in word and in action.

The Academy comprises a two-day intensive workshop, with a follow-up meeting in April. System teams will develop action plans around a project of choice designed to significantly boost student success and will report on three-month accomplishments at the meeting in April.

With any questions about the ACE-NASH Leadership Academy, please email​.



The TS3 Network held its third annual gathering in Chicago on April 12-13, 2018.  With seventeen systems represented and nearly 150 people participating, this meeting demonstrated the continuing commitment of NASH members to scaling up successful student success strategies.

Key features of this meeting included keynotes from Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Chancellor Emerita and Jillian Kinzie, Center for Postsecondary Research & NSSE.  Focus sessions provided in-depth examples of progress on our target interventions: Predictive Analytics, High Impact Practices, and Math Pathways.  System and campus teams also had the opportunity to explore and apply the framework of the drivers of student success.

This meeting was made possible through the support of the TS3 Partners, fifteen systems directly investing their resources in sustaining this initiative.



Claire Jacobson, Ph.D. has joined NASH as the project director for the Taking Student Success to Scale: High Impact Practices Network.  In this role, she directs NASH’s $1.2M Lumina funded grant to embed and scale high-quality High Impact Practices, equity minded pathways and higher quality learning infrastructure in four NASH systems, and disseminate these lessons with the NASH community.

Previously, Claire held positions in higher education in student affairs, academic affairs, development and alumni relations and international education.  Claire has been involved in student success at the intersection of students’ academic and co-curricular learning and has designed high impact practices, including collaborative learning, study abroad, writing intensive courses, and student employment.

Immediately prior to joining NASH, Claire was the primary investigator on two multi-disciplinary, multi-site research and assessment projects at the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).  In her portfolio at CAEP, Claire led a Gates-funded grant to assess the implementation of student surveys in the pre-service context.  She was also the primary investigator on a Kellogg-funded grant to develop and test specific strategies to improve culturally-competent family-teacher communication skills.  In this capacity, she directed a national team of Educator Preparation Programs based on an improvement science model.

She received her Bachelor’s in English from Northwestern University, her Master’s in English from Georgetown University, and her Ph.D in Education Leadership and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.



In December 2017 NASH, with support from Lumina Foundation, launched Taking Student Success to Scale: High Impact Practices. This network, the next phase of NASH’s flagship student success initiative, TS3, will focus on implementing and scaling high impact practices (HIPs) in four systems over the next two years (2018-2020), as well as sharing best practices and resources with the entireTS3 Network.

Through a rigorous external review process, NASH selected the University System of Georgia, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Montana University System, and the University of Wisconsin System.  Each system will receive $150,000 to fund campus-level implementation.  These systems are diverse in terms of geography, campus composition and student population, which will enable exploration of various models and implementation strategies that will benefit NASH systems and the field at large.

Over the next two years, these four systems will identify and advance HIPs at the campus and system level by embedding HIPs into required curricula and pathways; designing intentional mechanisms for scaling; and ensuring intentional mechanisms for access to low income, first-generation and under-represented minority students.

While these goals are ambitious, the network has started strong.  In February, the entire network gathered for two days in Los Angeles to officially launch the project.  This summer will include one-day system-wide work sessions, as well as an assessment workshop.  We are also designing a professional development series on equity.

February’s convening included both plenaries, as well as dedicated work sessions during which teams formulated their implantation plans and began to design their assessment strategies.  Teams also included specific strategies for closing equity gaps: a primary focus of this project.  Teams are now working on revising and expanding their implementation plans in preparation for expanding their HIP offerings for Fall 2018.  Below are some highlights on the four system’s overall strategies.

Tennessee Board of Regents

Campuses: Chattanooga State Community College, Cleveland State Community College, Nashville State Community College, Southwest Tennessee State Community College, Walters State Community College

The Tennessee Board of Regents is working on redesigning courses to embed HIPs throughout their guided pathways, as well as partnering with two four-year institutions to embed HIPs in transfer pathways.  To assess the quality of HIPs, the system intends to design qualitative assessments using the Value Rubrics and the DQP.  They recently hosted a professional development workshop on the VALUE Rubric and DQP for team leads.

University System of Georgia

Campuses: Georgia College and State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia State University, Savannah State University, University of Georgia, University of West Georgia

As part of their goal to close the equity gap in underrepresented student success through intentionally embedding high quality HIPs in curricular guided pathways structures, the University System of Georgia is creating common taxonomies for their five most widely employed HIPs. They intend to develop state-wide data collection, reporting, implementation and tracking of HIPS including intentional disaggregation of data by sub-groups and to research the links between student success metrics and the impact of HIPS on changes in students’ learning.

University System of Montana

Campuses: Great Falls College Montana State University, Montana State University Billings, Montana State University, Montana Tech, Salish Kootenai College, University of Montana Western

The Montana University System is focused on intentionally designing HIPs to close achievement gaps and improve student success so that every student experiences at least one per year of enrollment.  They are currently working on defining, identifying and measuring HIPs, and faculty, staff and administrator professional development. MUS will initially be focusing on scaling the following HIPs: internships, undergraduate research, freshman seminar, service learning, capstone experiences, and learning communities.

University of Wisconsin System

Campuses: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin System is currently working on developing HIPs assessments that reflect institutional learning outcomes using the VALUE Rubrics and designing system-wide data collection processes for reporting of student learning and student participation in HIPs to ensure monitoring of equity strategies.  In particular, the system is looking at assessment in undergraduate research and internships.



Lumina Vice President Debra Humphreys has a blog that is worth your time.  Here are two recent posts on Medium:

These are quick reads that raise important points for your consideration.  Follow her on Medium to get the latest in this series.



Three NASH Systems—CUNY, SUNY and the University System of Georgia—are among the first recipients of major grants from Strong Start to Finish (SSTF), a collaborative project funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and The Kresge Foundation. SSTF is a network of postsecondary leaders and funders committed to ensuring that all students succeed in their first year of college and enter a program of study reflecting their post-graduation professional goals.  The ultimate purpose is to significantly increase the number of students completing degrees, licenses and certificates with labor market value, and doing so in ways that eliminate racial/ethnic and income gaps in achievement.  Education Commission of the States (ECS), a national education policy organization, oversees SSTF.

Each of these systems will receive $2.1 million over three years and each presents a unique context for learning how systems can effectively support student success in the first year of college. In the aggregate, hundreds of thousands of students will be served during the term of the grant.

  • City University of New York (CUNY). CUNY will use SSTF funds to steadily replace traditional, stand-alone remedial courses with expanded versions of existing high-impact co-requisite courses. Faculty at all ten associate-granting colleges will be engaged in designing and implementing new courses aligned with degree maps. CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) will benefit more than 25,000 students every year. CUNY aims to double the numbers of new students completing both math and English gateway courses each year, from 8,200 to 16,000, and drastically shrink achievement gaps between black or Hispanic students and Asian or white students.
  • State University of New York (SUNY). All 30 of SUNY’s community colleges and nine four-year colleges will be directly engaged in the SSTF grant. Developmental education will transform to become an “on-ramp” to guided pathways with multiple measures for placement, advising reforms and integrated student supports to ensure access and equity and help more students of color, low income students and returning adults to succeed. SSTF funds will be used to expand use of Quantway/Statway Math Pathways to ensure that students enroll and succeed in math classes appropriate to their chosen academic area; supports needed for success in English will also be expanded system-wide.
  • University System of Georgia (USG). USG will engage all 28 of its institutions in the grant. SSTF funds will support systematic expansion of the state’s Momentum Year program to ensure each incoming student successfully completes appropriate gateway math and English courses and enters a chosen academic focus area. Students will be encouraged to develop an academic mindset and attempt 30 degree-hours including a minimum of three courses in their chosen academic focus area. Extra support will be provided where needed alongside or embedded in their coursework as a “corequisite” rather than a pre-requisite to credit-bearing work.



The issue of freedom of speech on college and university campuses has captured the interest of the nation and attracted considerable media attention. As system and institutional leaders address the difficult questions that arise in relation to this controversial issue, they need to balance the competing tensions between individual freedom and expectations of civility and safety. NASH Chief Academic Officers held an in-depth conversation on this topic at their last meeting, led by Fernando Gomez, Vice Chancellor and General Counsel at the Texas State University System.

A new publication from the Association of Governing Boards explains the context of the issue and explores the related tensions, identifies key points of consensus about the boundaries of freedom of speech, and provides specific guidelines for consideration by governing boards and the senior administrators who work with them.

Find this valuable resource here:



NASH members were instrumental in encouraging participation in an online survey of campus college officials last fall by the Mary Christie Foundation and the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy.  The survey of 744 professionals in academic affairs, student affairs and student health was conducted by The MassINC Polling Group.

According to survey results, a majority of these college administrators say that more students believe marijuana to be “safe,” drawing concern that changing attitudes about marijuana might have downstream effects on college campuses. Administrators say the number of students with marijuana-related problems has either increased (37 percent) or stayed the same (32 percent), while almost none say such problems have lessened. And while they report a variety of negative impacts of marijuana use, and acknowledge the need to address the problem, they are also dealing with gaps in information and policy.  Survey respondents agree that colleges should implement strategies to reduce student marijuana use, but relatively few think their own campuses are emphasizing the issue. Barriers to tackling the problem such as lack of information about effective approaches and limited coordination and training were cited. Their responses also indicated more awareness of the problem among officials on the front lines of student health compared to those in academic affairs or other administrative roles.

Public health experts have long warned that regular marijuana use among college students can lead to impaired memory, lack of motivation (i.e., skipped classes), and problems with information processing and executive functioning. Marijuana use also overlaps significantly with excessive drinking and other substance use, rather than being a substitute, and is associated with mental health problems and an increased risk for psychosis in vulnerable individuals, among other health risks. The survey demonstrated significant knowledge gaps on these issues among college administrators, but the need for training to learn more was clearly acknowledged.

For more information on these findings, see the full report at:



This fall, NASH will cosponsor the VERTEX Conference on concurrent enrollment and dual credit hosted by The University of Texas System.  This symposium will take place on October 5-6, 2018, at the Grand Hyatt in Denver.

With a focus on research and policy at the system and state level, this convening recognizes that we are living in an era of widespread expansion of concurrent enrollment and dual credit programing, which is blurring the traditional boundaries between secondary school and college – normally seen as separate spheres. The space between the two is filled with opportunities and challenges for students and educational sectors.

Join us at Vertex 2018 as expert keynotes and speakers address a national audience – including researchers, policymakers, higher education leaders, SHEEOs, statewide K12 and workforce, and other stakeholders – and lead discussions on the impact of concurrent enrollment and dual credit expansion on key policy areas.

The 2018 Vertex Symposium will:

  • Elevate understanding of concurrent enrollment funding models with a particular focus on how equity is impacted
  • Highlight the varying approaches to state and cross-sector policies governing concurrent enrollment offerings
  • Showcase current research, identify research gaps, and motivate additional research on student outcomes, equity, funding models, and other policy areas
  • Explore intentional and unintentional consequences of concurrent enrollment expansion
  • Identify shared strategies and solutions to address policy challenges
  • Promote a network among policy and research peers working across sectors to ensure student success in concurrent enrollment programs

or email them at



In February 2018, Education Strategy Group, organizers of Higher Ed for Higher Standards, hosted a meeting of Chief State School Officers and State Higher Education Executive Officers from seven states to discuss the future of the postsecondary transition agenda. The meeting was designed to elevate the highest-impact strategies for dramatically improving postsecondary preparation, transitions, and success.

The major takeaway: state leaders are prepared to work across the sectors to close college readiness and attainment gaps and they acknowledged it will take intentional, sustainable effort to get that done. In particular, there is deep appetite for approaches that positively impact the outcomes of traditionally underserved students. Every state left the meeting with an action agenda for where their collaborative work will go next.

  • Three states will develop strategies for scaling advanced coursework opportunities with a specific focus on closing equity gaps in participation;
  • Three states will develop a 12th grade transition course that, if successfully completed, will enable students to place directly into credit-bearing coursework upon postsecondary matriculation; and,
  • Three states will publicize data on educator preparation programs and provide support to higher education institutions in the use of that data.

A summary of the meeting can found here.



New System Heads

Mr. Mark Braun, Executive Director, Iowa Board of Regents


Exiting System Heads

Dr. Glen Boyce, Commissioner, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning – June 30, 2018
Ms. Eileen Klein, President, Arizona Board of Regents – June 2018
William H. McRaven, Chancellor, The University of Texas System – May 2018
James B. Milliken, Chancellor, City University of New York – May 2018
Michel G. Rush, Executive Director, South Dakota Board of Regents – May 29, 2018



Type Topic Date Location Meeting
System Heads NASH Board & Member Meeting April 22 San Francisco AGB
NASH Board NASH Board Meeting July 10 Park City, UT SHEEO
CAO NASH CAO Network Meeting August 7* Denver SHEEO
System Heads NASH Board and Annual System Heads Meeting November 11* New Orleans APLU

  *Date is subject to change