December 4, 2018

Student Success Summit celebrates successes, looks ahead

Members of the Wayne State community gathered to reflect on the university’s accomplishments and ongoing goals at the annual Student Success Summit on Nov. 29.

The summit brought together faculty and staff from all areas of campus for networking, dialogue and workshops based around the theme “Student Success is Faculty Success … and Faculty Success is Student Success.”

Wayne State was recently named the winner of the APLU’s 2018 Project Degree Completion Award for its increased graduation rate and ongoing student retention initiatives. Wayne State’s graduation rate has nearly doubled in six years, increasing from 26 to 47 percent, and positioning the university as a national model.

“It’s important to take a moment and congratulate ourselves. I know student success is something that every single person at this university has been working on — not since yesterday, not since last week, but throughout your careers,” said Provost Keith Whitfield. “We also need to keep thinking ahead — where are we going? We cannot let ourselves be satisfied with just this accolade; we can do more. That grit and determination to push further is who we are and it’s what we do.”  

Monica Brockmeyer
Monica Brockmeyer discusses how Wayne State has improved
retentetion and transformed its graduation rate. 

The event also included remarks from Senior Associate Provost for Student Success Monica Brockmeyer, who provided an overview of Wayne State’s retention progress and the steps the university has taken to transform its graduation rate.

“I feel like we were really lucky in 2011, when everything seemed so difficult and we were discouraged and uncertain,” Brockmeyer said. “That retention crisis moment really became the springboard for the accomplishments we have today, and it helped us develop a culture of positive change on campus.”

The summit also included a panel by the Academy of Teachers, who each discussed their challenges in teaching and how they’ve learned from failure. David Yeager, Ph.D. — one of the nation’s leading scholars in student learning, persistence in college and success — presented a keynote address titled “Grit and Growth Mindset.”   

Academy of Teachers
The Academy of Teachers presented a panel about learning from challenges in the classroom.

This summit also included the following breakout sessions, designed to spark discussion about what WSU can do to further support students:

  •  “Our Voices” — a performance by the Freedom Players under the direction of Billicia Hines
  • “Student Success 101 for Academic Staff” — Catherine Bernas, associate director, Advisor Training Academy
  • “Faculty Stress is Student Stress” — Angela Zanardelli Sickler, associate director, Study Skills Academy, Academic Success Center, and Tom Fischer, associate professor of psychology
  • “Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources: What are they and how do they support student success?” — Veronica Bielat, student success librarian and instruction services coordinator in the University Library System; Nathan Chavez, associate director for academic applications, Computing and Information Technology; and Erik Nordberg, assistant dean, University Libraries
  • “APEX Scholars – Intrusive Advising and Support with AdvisingWorks” — Mark Jackson, APEX Scholars director; Audrey Whitfield, associate director for enrollment and advising; Veronica Killebrew, associate director for instructional support at APEX Scholars
  • “Early Academic Assessment Strategies for Instructors”  — Adrienne Jankens and Thomas Trimble, Department of English
  • “Employing our Identities as Faculty and Academic Staff to Advocate for our Students” – Annmarie Cano, associate provost for faculty, development and faculty success

For more information about student success, visit