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CSU San Marcos:WASC Interim Report (Fall 2012)


IV. Response to Issues Identified by the Commission

Response to Issues Identified by the Commission

Instructions: This main section of the Report should address the issues identified by the Commission in its action letter as topics for the Interim Report. Each topic identified in the Commission’s action letter should be addressed. The team report may provide additional context and background for the institution’s understanding of issues.

Provide a full description of each issue, the actions taken by the institution that address this issue, and an analysis of the effectiveness of these actions to date. Have the actions taken been successful in resolving the problem? What is the evidence supporting progress? What further problems or issues remain? How will these concerns be addressed, by whom, and under what timetable? How will the institution know when the issue has been fully addressed? Please include a timeline that outlines planned additional steps with milestones and expected outcomes.


This section is organized by the three issues identified in the WASC Commission letter: Assessment of Learning, Academic Planning, and Retention and Graduation.

Issue I:  Assessment of Learning

This narrative responds to the WASC Commission letter recommendation that states, “The institution needs to continue to enhance its skills and structures related to assessment of learning, and complete its formal policies and templates related to program review, including obtaining Faculty Senate endorsement of the program review plans.”

It also responds to the 2009 EER Committee report in which noted that, “Although there has been significant progress in the area of assessment in some programs, the University needs to take important next steps to assess and improve programs.”

At the time of the 2009 EER visit, 66% of the degree programs had participated in the annual assessment plan protocol, the Faculty Senate had not endorsed the program review policy or guidelines, and the Program Review and Assessment Committee was using a pilot form of the proposed new program review policy.

Since 2009, significant progress has been made in the areas of enhancing assessment skills and structures and the completion of the program review policies and templates.

Progress on Enhancing Assessment Skills and Structures

At the time of the 2009 EER visit, assessment of learning outcomes was supported by a Learning Outcomes Assessment Fellow (LOAF) and GE Assessment Coordinator (GEAC), two positions that were filled by senior faculty members with partial release time from teaching to fulfill their assessment responsibilities. This support structure continued into AY 2011-12.

Progress in the area of enhancing skills and structures related to assessment is four fold.

1.    Established Director of Academic Assessment: In fall 2012, the LOAF and GEAC positions have been combined into aDirector of Academic Assessment (DAA), with a faculty leader released full time from teaching to support the assessment efforts.The DAA also serves as the GE Assessment Coordinator. This new structure will provide an integrated and systematic effort on all assessment fronts, with enough allocated time to impact the quality of annual assessment plans and the use of assessment data. The role of the DAA emerged from recognition of the holistic nature of student learning and the need to assess that learning in its entirety, across GE courses and through the majors.

2.    Faculty Center Offers Ongoing Support for Assessment: Since the 2009 EER, the LOAF, through the Faculty Center, offered four assessment workshops.  In fall 2012, the Faculty Center, in collaboration with the DAA, will continue to offer assessment workshops to assist faculty in building knowledge and skills associated with assessing course and program-level student learning outcomes. In support of the scholarship of teaching and learning, the three Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellows affiliated with the Faculty Center will also assist with the development of student learning outcomes, matrix construction, and tools for assessing PSLOs.

3.   Annual Assessment Protocols: The completion of annual assessment plan protocols has gained momentum. In AY 08/09, the year of the 2009 EER visit, 23 of the 35 degree programs (66%) submitted annual assessment plans.  In AY 12/13, 36 of the 39 degree programs (92%) submitted annual assessment plans or were engaged in Program Review Year 1 (programs are exempted from annual review during the first year of program review). With the establishment of the DAA’s position also came an understanding that the college deans would work proactively with their departments and the DAA to ensure that all departments participate meaningfully in the annual assessment program. The  annual assessment process  can be accessed on the Academic Program web page.

4.   Approval of Lower Division GE SLOs: In fall 2012, the lower division GE learning outcomes were approved by the Academic Senate and accepted by the Provost and President. The General Education Committee, in collaboration with the DAA, is now engaged in assuring alignment between the GE curriculum and these approved outcomes, and establishing a process for a multi-year assessment plan for these outcomes. This will continue the work already underway in assessing GELOS and will be part of the DAA’s responsibilities.

Completion of Program Review Policies and Templates

In AY 2011, the Academic Senate Program Assessment Committee (PAC) completed development of the Program Review Policy and Guidelines. The documents were approved by the full Academic Senate in May, 2011 and signed by the Provost and President on August 16, 2011.  (See attached 1.Program Review Policy and Guidelines.)

As of Spring, 2012, seven programs (History B.A. and M.A. Liberal Studies, B.A., Biological Science B.S. and M.S. and Computer Sciences B.S. and M.S.) have completed the two-year review process (these programs “piloted” the new policy in their first year of review prior to its official approval by the Academic Senate and Provost).

As of Fall, 2012, four programs (Sociology B.A., Criminology and Justice Studies B.A., Nursing B.S., and Literature and Writing Studies B.A. ) are entering the second year of the review process, and four programs (Education M.A., Education EDD, Biotechnology  MbT, and Sociological Practice MA) are entering Year 1 of the review process.

A multiyear schedule for future reviews has been developed and is periodically reviewed and updated by the AVP for Academic Programs and PAC.

A "one stop shop" program review websitehas been designed for use by program faculty, external reviewers, Academic Senate, PAC, and administrators during the review process.

Issues to be addressed:

In order to advance the assessment of student learning and program improvement, we must build skill capacity in assessment of PSLOs and in the use of assessment data for program improvement. The following actions will be taken:

1.    The next stage in the development of the assessment process begins with the AY 2012-13 annual assessment plan cycle during which all programs will engage in a year-long, university-wide assessment activity focused on the review and revision of PSLO’s and their placement throughout the curriculum. Those involved in this effort will be program faculty, AVP of Academic Programs, the Director of Academic Assessment, and the College Deans and Associate Deans.

Revisiting PSLOs will allow identification of how best to support program faculty members in their efforts (e.g. outside experts, conference attendance, etc.). As a result, we hope to increase the quality of PSLOs with regard to their “assess-ability” and confirm that PSLOs are appropriately placed in the program curriculum. 

The quality of the revised PSLOs will determine the degree to which this effort is successful.

Responsible parties: AVP Academic Programs and Director of Academic Assessment.

2.    In the past, a program review cycle may have focused on one or two PSLOs. Our next step in the annual assessment plan process is to assure that all PSLOs are assessed during the program review cycle. Toward that end, during the 2012-13 academic year, each program will develop a multi-year plan that shows how all PSLOs will be reviewed during the annual review cycle.

Those involved in the effort will be program faculty, the AVP of Academic Programs, the Director of Academic Assessment, Academic Senate Chairs of Program Assessment Committee and General Education Committee, and the College Deans and Associate Deans.

The result of this effort will be to assure that each PSLO will have a body of data that illustrates progress in reaching program goals for student learning. Analysis of these data will assure that each PSLO has been taken into consideration relative to program improvement efforts. Moreover, the results of the assessments will be shared with a wider audience, thereby increasing communication regarding student learning outcomes and program improvement.

Responsible parties: AVP Academic Programs and Director of Academic Assessment.

3.    Programs are increasingly engaged in annual assessments. The next step is to increase the use of assessment data to inform program improvement.

In AY 12-13, the Director of Academic Assessment (DAA), in collaboration with theFaculty Center’s three Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellows, will support faculty to both develop program-level assessments and use assessment data to make program improvements. At the end of the Fall and Spring semesters, the DAA will provide a report summarizing the degree to which faculty participated in these opportunities and the ways that they felt that the interactions were helpful in completing assessment activities.

Those involved in the effort will be the AVP of Academic Programs, the Director of Academic Assessment, and College Associate Deans.

These efforts will increase the quality of assessment data and its use in program improvement efforts as evidenced over time in the program review self-studies.

Action #1, #2, and #3 will be undertaken during the current academic year and completed by Fall 2013.

Responsible parties: AVP Academic Programs and Director of Academic Assessment.


Issue II:  Academic Planning

This narrative responds to the WASC Commission letter recommendation that states, “By building on the foundational work already begun in academic planning, the institution should expand the visible linkages between academic planning and resource allocation.”

It also responds to the 2009 EER Committee report in which it was noted that:

“The University needs to fully develop and implement the activities described as integral components of academic master planning, including the three year rolling plans, an academic strategic plan, a data based forecasting process and resources allocation.”

“The University should continue to seek innovative approaches to academic planning and program development, such as the use of Extended Learning for program development during the current time of budgetary challenges….”

At the time of the 2009 visit, Academic Affairs was in the process of completing its strategic plan and implementing the three year rolling plan process. In addition, it began a fledging forecasting effort including gathering data to be applied to planning process.

Since 2009, significant progress has been made in the development of the strategic plan, use of three year rolling plans, and the establishment of a data based forecasting process.


Academic Strategic Plan and Three Year Rolling Plans

In AY 10-11, Academic Affairs developed four goals and three support goals for Academic Years 11-12 to 13-14 (See attachment 2.AA Strategic Plan Priorities). The Division goals and support goals guide priorities for the three year rolling plan annual goals, which are developed and submitted by the 14 units within Academic Affairs.

In AY 10-11, three rolling plans were developed for Fiscal Years 11-12 to 13-14 (see attachment  3.Acad Affairs 3-Year Rolling Plans).

All three year rolling plans are predicated on common assumptions provided by the Provost. Those assumptions address topics such as FTES and revenue projections. In addition, the three-year rolling plans developed in the Colleges are to consider Program Review findings, if any. New program proposals should be accounted for if there is an anticipated implementation date during the period of the three-year rolling plan.  The outcomes of the three-year rolling plan process inform the annual budget-building process.

To assure uniformity of presenting content and completeness of information, templates for the Three Year Rolling Plan are provided. Part 1 is the narrative portion of the plan (see attachment 4.Three-Yr Rolling Plan Template Part 1 Narrative) and Part 2 is a Funding Proposal (see attachment 5.Three-Yr Rolling Plan Template Part 2 Funding Proposal).

The narrative and the funding proposal elements of the three year rolling plan assures “visible linkages between academic planning and resource allocation” which was noted in the WASC Commission letter recommendation.

The Academic Affairs Leadership Council (comprised of all College Deans, Dean of Extended Learning, Dean of the Library, Dean of Instructional and Information Technology Services, Associate Vice Presidents of Academic Programs, Faculty Affairs, Planning and Academic Resources and Academic Senate Chair) and the Academic Senate Budget and Long Range Planning Committee receive the three-year rolling plans for review.

In the Fall of each year, a joint meeting of the Academic Affairs Leadership Council and the Academic Senate Budget and Long Range Planning Committee is convened to review the content of the three year rolling plans and determine the priorities to be supported and/or funded. The priorities are forwarded to the Provost as a recommendation for her consideration in the budgeting processes for the ensuing year. 

This process took a brief hiatus with the establishment of new colleges in AY 2011-12, but resumed during the Spring 2012 semester when the Provost issued a January, 2012 memorandum outlining the strategic planning timeline for FY 2013/14 through 2015/16. (see attachment 6.Strategic Planning Timeline FY1314 to FY1516). In it she specifically describes the nature of the process as “the division’s linked strategic planning and budget development process.” This call for three year rolling plan development is the next chapter in the on-going processes designed to provide “visible linkages” between academic planning and resource allocation.

A summary of the Academic Affairs Strategic Plan is posted on the Academic Affairs website.

Data Based Forecasting Process

At the time of the 2009 EER visit, Academic Affairs had initiated the University Academic Master Plan Forecasting Committee (UAMPFC) to review various data points to be used in planning and decision making processes relative to academic programs.

In discussion between the Provost and the Academic Senate Budget and Long Range Planning Committee (BLP), it was determined that the UAMPFC was not producing enough data to fully inform the creation of a multi-year long range plan for program development.

At the request of the Provost and following a referral from the Academic Senate Executive Committee, BLP, which is comprised of members of the faculty and the AVP for Planning and Academic Resources, the Dean of IITS, and the Dean of Extended Learning, drafted a proposal for a long-range academic master plan process, LAMP.  Acting on the recommendation from BLP, which was endorsed by the Academic Senate, the Provost established a task force to guide the planning process.

The task force (comprised of seven faculty members, the Associate Vice Presidents of Academic Programs and Planning and Academic Resources, the Dean of Graduate Studies, and one representative each from Student Affairs, Instructional and Information Technology Services and Extended Learning, and Associated Students, Inc.) was inaugurated in Fall 2012 and is co-chaired by the BLP Chair’s designee and the AVP for Academic Resources and Planning.

During AY 21012-13, the LAMP Task Force will meet approximately every three weeks. The meetings will be dedicated to:

  • reviewing regional economic and workforce data to inform long-range strategic program development
  • reviewing college-level long range planning proposals developed collaboratively among faculty and administrators and, when appropriate,  in conjunction with community partners.
  • analyzing and prioritizing proposals for new degree programs, including new majors, options, credentials, and graduate degrees.  
  • considering resource implications associated with specific proposals and make recommendations regarding projected program implementation dates.
  • generating an initial 3-5 year academic master plan for program development by Spring 2013, with the intent of generating a 10-year view over time. The plan will cover programs serving students at the San Marcos campus and the off campus location at Temecula, as well as students that may never be on either campus, but access CSUSM’s programs on-line. It is anticipated that Academic Senate and AALC will consider the proposed plan in Spring and Fall, 2013, and then submit it to the Provost.


The LAMP is viewed as a resource that will inform the established on-going planning processes in BLP and Academic Affairs Leadership Council as the campus takes the long view to 2023.

The Academic Senate resolution regarding the LAMP and the Provost’s and President’s response is attached ( see attachment 7.LAMP Senate Resolution) .  

Use of Extended Learning for Program Development

Launching new programs in a time of constricted resources is a challenge. As noted in the Visiting Committee report, Extended Learning is one avenue that can support the implementation of new programs in the face of fiscal realities.

 At the time of the 2009 EER visit, three degree programs were offered through Extended Learning

  •  Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Fall 2007
  • Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology - Fall 2008
  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Fall 2007

Since Spring 2009, four programs (Nursing, Education, Biotechnology, and Business) and their colleges have decided to offer five degree programs through Extended Learning.


  • Master of Arts in Education, Option in Communicative Sciences & Disorders - Fall 2010
  • Master of Biotechnology, A Professional Science Masters - Fall 2009
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Spring 2010
  • RN to Master of Science in Nursing - Spring 2010
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Fall 2012

At the time of the 2009 EER visit, the Dean of Extended Learning or designee was invited to attend Academic Senate’s Budget and Long Range Planning Committee meetings as needed.

The Academic Senate, at the request of BLP, revised the Senate by laws and made the Dean of Extended Learning an ex-officio member of BLP, joining the other ex-officio members: AVP of Planning and Academic Resources, a College Dean, and the Dean of Instructional and Information, Technology Services. The regular attendance of the Dean of Extended Learning has already increased the timely and complete communication within BLP about the opportunities available within Extended Learning for program development.

Issues to be addressed:

1.    The LAMP task force has been charged with moving the campus forward in the area of long-range academic planning for the next three to five years and potentially for the next ten years.  The step in this process is for LAMP to gather long-range strategic planning information from the Colleges.  At the same time, LAMP will work with regional community partners to gather economic and employment data to inform their work.  In addition, they will review and give consideration to developing pedagogies in higher education, particularly technology-driven changes that are taking place in the way we deliver instruction.  As the LAMP task force evaluates and merges the college-level plans to create a long-range academic master plan for the campus, it will need to use regional workforce data, as well as data from the three-year rolling budget plans to make recommendations about the programmatic priorities.

The activity will be completed by the end of Fall semester, 2013.

Responsible parties: AVP Planning and Academic Resources and faculty co-chair of LAMP.


2.    The face of higher education generally is changing as technology-intensive pedagogies are being designed to give students additional flexibility and to make teaching and learning more effective.  At this time CSUSM has developed only one fully online degree program, the MA in Education Literacy Option.  We will encourage faculty to reexamine how they teach with a view to incorporating new and innovative tools that match with the expectations of 21st century learners.  LAMP will offer some guidance in this area. In addition, three faculty fellows, appointed in the Faculty Center, are helping their colleagues understand the current trends in teaching and learning and working with them as they consider redesigning their courses.  As more faculty become involved, more hybrid courses and more fully online courses and programs will be developed.

An annual report through AY 2016-17 describing progress made on an initiative to address the needs of the twenty-first century learner will be submitted to BLP, AALC, and the Provost.

Responsible parties: AVP Planning and Academic Resources


3.    Budget constraints require that we explore alternate sources of revenue for the campus and for Academic Affairs.  AALC, BLP, and LAMP will continue to give consideration to offering programs through Extended Learning and other delivery systems.

Efforts made in this area will be included in an annual report of the AVP Planning and Academic Resources to the Provost.

Responsible parties: AVP Planning and Academic Resources, chair of BLP, and the faculty co-chair of LAMP.


4.   The environment for higher education is changing, including ongoing budget constraints.  This will require a periodic review of the Academic Affairs strategic plan by BLP, LAMP, and AALC.

When deemed appropriate, AALC, BLP, and LAMP will review the Academic Affairs strategic plan.

Responsible parties: The AVP Planning and Academic Resources, chair of BLP, and the faculty co-chair of LAMP.


Issue III:  Retention and Graduation

This narrative responds to the WASC Commission letter recommendation, which states that “continuing the excellent work the institution has already begun related to the first year experience and retention, CSUSM should expand the focus of these efforts to include retention beyond the first year and towards improvement in the six year graduation rate.”

It also responds to the 2009 EER Committee report in which it was noted that:

“The University should continue its efforts through the Foundations of Excellence process to define, coordinate, and improve its program and services in support of freshmen retention and student success, seeking out the opportunities resulting from the creation of a First-Year Council.”

“The University should expand its efforts to monitor and improve the progress of its students at all levels in support of student success, including sophomore through senior-level students, upper division transfer students, as well as graduate students.”

“The University should continue to seek innovative approaches to curricular and co-curricular programs and student success as it strives to serve the needs of its students and the region. This includes serving the needs of a growing population of minority students and at the same time managing and allocating scarce resources according to a documented strategic plan.”


The work of the First Year Council and the Graduation Initiative Steering Committee are intertwined. A distinct narrative has been written to address the progress made on The First Year Experience and the Graduation Initiative. Indeed, the campus’s response to the system-driven Graduation Initiative has built on the work the campus put into the Foundations of Excellence project. However, the combined impact of the two bodies of work should be considered when evaluating the progress made in increasing continuation, retention and graduation rates of students. 

For reference, a multi-year summary of the continuation, retention and graduation rates is attached (see 8.WascContRetentionGradTable). Of note is an increase in freshman retention rates from Fall 2008 of 70.4% to Fall 2010 of 79.9% and a decreasing achievement gap between underrepresented minority students (URMs) and non-URMs.


The First Year Experience

Since the 2009 EER visit, the First Year Council(FYC), which has chronicled its work in three annual reports, has met continuously and built upon the work initiated through the 2008 Foundations of Excellenceself-study. Examples of First Year Student initiatives are:

  • Established the Office of First Year Programs.
  • In AY 11-12, 320 students participated in a First-Year Learning Community (FYLC). The Undeclared Learning Community was successfully launched and the students in this learning community participated in the restoration of a “Majors Fair.” The FYC supported an expansion of FYLCs. An additional course (GEO 102) was added to the Athletes Learning Community, and an optional extension into the spring semester will be available for students in the Global Learning Community.
  • New courses were developed and approved for implementation of the Early Start program. The number of high school seniors taking the ELM exam and the EPT surpassed previous records. Information regarding the Early Start program and recommendations to incoming students were added to the First-Year Student webpage.
  • The second annual Professional Development Retreat for Instructors Teaching First-Year Students was held on August 26, 2011 and attended by over 70 faculty and staff. This retreat focused on sharing teaching strategies and learning about on-campus resources for at-risk students. The third annual Professional Development Retreat for Instructors Teaching First-Year Students took place on August 24, 2012 with the continuing mission: “To provide professional development opportunities for al instructors who teach first year students in a setting that fosters collaboration, connection and conversation about best practices for serving the students in our courses.”
  • The FYC regularly reviews data on first year student success that is compiled as part of the Graduation Initiative. Two particularly striking observations are that continuation rates for males are lower than those for females, and that actual graduation rates have increased at the same time that predicted graduation rates (based on Freshman Survey results) have decreased.The Academic Senate’s General Education Committee has completed the development of General Education Learning Outcomes (GELOs) for Lower-Division General Education, and these GELOs were endorsed by the Academic Senate.
  • The FYC began a systematic review of the status of the original Foundations of Excellence Action Items. A rubric was developed for FYC members to rate the degree of progress that had been made on each item, and these rating served as the starting point for conversation on each item.
  • Student Life and Leadership offered three Spanish Family Orientations in Fall 2012 to over 75 family members of incoming first year students. Participants received information about Financial Aid, Paying for CSUSM, Advising/Registration, Partnering with Families (FERPA, SOAR, Supporting your student), High school to College Transition/Faculty Expectations, and Campus and Student Safety. Orientation materials were translated and provided to all participants.
  • In AY 2008-2009, at the time of the EER visit, 1533 first-year students entered CSUSM. Of these students, 995 (64.9% of the AY 2008-9 first-year class) needed remediation in English and/or math. Of the 995 students needing remediation, 80.4% cleared their remediation requirements.
  • In AY 2010-11, 1201 first-year students entered CSUSM.  Of these students, 812 (68% of the AY 2010-11 first-year class) needed remediation in English and/or math. Of the 812 students needing remediation, 697 (86%) cleared their remediation requirements.

This 5.6% increase in a two year period in successful remediation rates directly impacted the diversity of CSUSM’s student population through increasing the successful completion rates and retention rates of Latino students, African American students, Asian and Pacific Islander students, and first-generation college students to the highest they have ever been. 

Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, Latino students (who made up the largest portion of CSUSM students needing remediation) increased in successful remediation rates from 68% to 88%, African American students increased from 70% to 90%, Asian and Pacific Islander students increased from 79% to 98%, and first-generation college students (who come into the university needing remediation at the highest rates) increased from 67% to 94%.  White students also improved during this time period from 72% to 91%.  Remediation rates for women improved from 71% to 88%, while remediation for men improved from 74% to 90%. 

These improvements directly impact the university’s and CSU’s missions of providing access to higher education to students who would not otherwise have it, as well as increasing the university’s retention rates of diverse student populations.  (See attachment 9.Remediation Trends and Gains 2006-2010).

Strategies employed to improve remediation rates at CSUSM included the following:

o   Increasing tracking efforts and intensifying communications with students regarding their EPT and ELM requirements beginning in the spring of their senior year in high school, over the summer (prior to, during, and following orientation), and during each semester of their first year at CSUSM, while providing a central information hub where students can ask and receive answers to their questions about their remediation requirement.

o   Bringing all remedial math courses to CSUSM (from Palomar College) and ensuring that all first-year students needing remediation have the opportunity to clear their requirements in two semesters or less.

o   Increased academic support through tutoring and supplemental instruction for students completing remedial English and math requirements.


  • Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services (CLASS) have increased tutoring support dramatically over the last few years.  Activity in the Writing Center increased to about 3,000 student visits in the 2011-12 academic year.  Tutoring for courses other than General Education Writing (GEW) 101 have increased from 10% to 50% of all visits.  This included increased demand for tutoring appointments, as well as graduate thesis retreats on weekends throughout the year.  In the Math Lab, student traffic increased to well over 10,000 visits in 2011-12.  As the demand for tutoring in mathematics increased, capacity to meet the demand was also increased.  Math classes at CSUSM have been increasingly using online learning environments.  The Math Lab has stayed abreast of this trend by increasing the number of available computers in the center.  Also, the Math Lab has provided a space for adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants to hold office hours, which has been regularly utilized increasing the opportunity for students to interact directly with the instructors of their math classes.  English writing seminars provided by the Language Learning Center have been increasing in demand and are currently at capacity.  Students taking the Language Other Than English Requirement exam have increased, which has directly correlated with the increases in retention and graduation rates at CSUSM.  Finally, the Language Learning Center has established greater access to academic support for language classes by live-streaming and archiving language workshops on its website.

    In 2010, CSUSM's Graduation Initiative Discovery Café developed a series of "next steps" to retain and promote graduation among CSUSM's high risk student populations.  The second highest need was determined to be "intervention for success."  This included the development of an early warning system and proactively helping students experiencing both academic and non-academic issues hindering their academic success.  As a result, a Student Academic Success Coordinator was hired in January, 2011 to champion and forward this agenda.

    To assist students experiencing academic and non-academic issues negatively impacting their academic success, Personalized Academic Success Services (PASS) was developed by the Student Academic Support Coordinator to help CSUSM students find solutions to the problems they face and successfully earn their degrees. These services have been provided to students on academic probation, students who have been academically disqualified from CSUSM and would like to return, and students experiencing extenuating circumstances hindering their academic success.  While CSUSM does have special programs to serve the most at-risk student populations enrolled, there are many more who fit the criteria to receive services from these programs but are unable to be a part of these programs due to limited capacity.  The services provided through PASS have helped to fill this void and assist these students in their quest for academic success at CSUSM.  The most common issues faced by CSUSM students utilizing PASS include:

    •  financial (includes homelessness and inability to pay for coursework needed to complete academic requirements and earn degrees)

    • social (students who have not been able to find their place at CSUSM)

    • emotional (students who have experienced severe life situations they have not known how to deal with, including physical and sexual abuse, sexual assault, etc.)

    • remediation (CSUSM students who have the drive and desire to complete their remediation requirements, but find themselves unable to afford the high tuition rates in the summer term at the conclusion of their first year of enrollment)

    • balance between school and family obligations (CSUSM students whose families require them to provide childcare to their siblings, care for incapacitated parents, and those who have children of their own)

      balance between school and work obligations

    • transitional issues (high school to college for first-year students; community college to university for transfer students

    • PASS has aided students in finding temporary housing and finding the means towards more permanent residences, connected students to counseling resources to deal with psychologically and emotionally damaging situations, connect with affordable childcare agencies, and much, much more.  Not only does PASS help students to establish a strong foundation for academic success or overcome the life circumstances to achieve or continue academic success, but they also illustrate to our students the genuine concern CSUSM has for their personal well-being.

  • Since the 2009 EER visit, Undergraduate Advising Services (UAS) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) have contributed to the overall retention and graduation of students in the following ways:

    • EOP and UAS strategically restructured administratively in that the Director of UAS took on the additional Directorship of EOP to create services synergies and programmatic support of the campus Graduation Initiative (GI) efforts, and to strengthen student services to traditional and non-traditional students. This restructure supported student retention and graduation by:

    • Focused the former EOP Director’s responsibilities to be split between EOP and in support of GI campus efforts.  For example, focused services were created for undeclared students through the creation of two FY Undeclared Student Learning Community cohorts; through the restoration of funding (IRA grant submitted and funded) and improved participation levels by campus units for the Majors/Minors fair event; and through the creation and implementation of an inclusive (traditional and non-traditional students) automated campus based College Success Workshop Series.

    • Focused the UAS/EOP Director’s responsibilities to implement a collaborative efforts to improve campus services and support. For example, the creation and collaboration of pilot protocols for pre-registration and block registration of non-traditional Freshmen student Programs (ACE, CAMP, EOP); strengthening the impact of the EOP summer bridge program on students to improve mathematics readiness.   

    • UAS increased access and student use of the Academic Requirement Report (a tool to self-monitor progress toward degree). Student knowledge and skilled use of this tool was enhanced through media site and  face-to-face workshops in an effort to keep student on track of their graduation requirements.

    • UAS piloted “Express Advising” offering weekly drop-in advising services to promote increased student access.

    • UAS led the collaboration (EOP, Student Success Services, Registrar, UAS) that focused on bolstering services, contacts, programming with  both traditional, non-traditional students on probation to improve retention rates that lead to graduation.


Graduation Initiative

After the 2009 EER visit, CSUSM established a steering committee to oversee the campus’s response to the system mandate to increase graduation rates and close the achievement gap. This Graduation Initiative Steering Committee (GISC) is chaired by the Provost and comprised ofkey representatives of Student Affairs (Vice President and Associate Vice President for Student Academic Support Services), Academic Affairs (two faculty members, Provost, and Associate Vice President for Academic Programs), Institutional Planning and Analysis (Research Analyst), and Institutional Technology (Informational Technology Projects and Business Intelligence Project Director), a college dean, dean, and two students. Each participant represents an area that is integral to the success of our plan for closing the university’s achievement gap.

As part of a plan submitted to the CSU Chancellor’s office, the following targets for graduation rates by 2015, were established:




URM Freshmen 


Transfer students


URM Transfer students



During AY 2009-10, the team developed specific action stepssuch as: launching Summer Start for incoming freshman, connecting the First Year Council and colleges to ensure adequate scheduling capacity of first year courses, data generation efforts on 6-year graduation rates by majors and establish process for addressing program specific issues impacting the graduation rates, modifying registration procedures for first time freshmen to increase efficiency and accuracy and complete Lower Division Roadmaps (LDR) for all majors and increase student use of the LDRs.

In AY 2010-11, the Graduation Initiative Steering Committee hosted a Graduation Initiative Discovery Cafe. More than 100 participants represented students, faculty, staff, administrators and parents. Based on the 55 “bold steps” generated during the discussion, the GISC identified six themes for which goals and timelines would be created. Those themes were:

  • Information resources
  • Intervention for Success
  • Engage students on campus through employment and student life
  • Cohort/community (e.g. the learning community program)
  • Mentoring for students
  • Data collection and dissemination

In February, 2012, the Year 2 Graduation Initiative Reportwas presented at Town Hall Meeting. Highlights of the report illustrating responsiveness to the six themes include:

  • expansion of learning communities (e.g. learning community for “undecided” students with the goal of  helping them choose a major) 
  • completion of curricular roadmaps for the highest unit majors.
  • block registration piloted through EOP Summer Bridge cohort.
  • piloting the use of retention/graduation data in program review self-studies,
  • piloting of on-line mentoring tool for students in the Career Center,
  • The Cross Cultural Center hosted 25 mentors and 45 mentees for regular exchanges of information.  
  • use of social media as an information outreach to parents,
  • male retention gap study
  • compilation of graduation rate data, as well as DFW reports for courses within the majors.
  • Undergraduate Advising Services (UAS) increased the use of the Degree Progress Reports (DPR) by students as a tool to self-monitor progress toward degree. UAS launched a media site presentation to facilitate student knowledge of and access to the DPR, as well as face-to-face workshops.

In the third year of the Graduation Initiative the following was accomplished:

  • The  ACE Scholars program - which was established in 2008 and designed to meet the unique needs of student who are former foster youth and to improve their rates of matriculation, graduation, and career success -  reported in the 2012 evaluation of the program report that 58 foster youth have attended CSUSM with a retention rate of 88%. This is significantly higher than that of former foster youth across the nation. In addition to the usual topics such as financial aid, class requirements and social activities on the campus sessions also dealt with specifics to this population like family members asking for money, budgeting, and communicating with professors.  In addition, a program policy was implemented requiring all students to see one of the ace staff twice a semester, allowing a greater monitoring and input on the student’s success.
  • SOAR (a Student Outreach and Referral resource for use by all students and faculty, with an outreach to first-generation students designed for efficient resolution of issues) was established. This “first stop shop for all things student”  is staffed with a SOAR Coordinator.  
  • Student Life and Leadership concluded its research into a comprehensive co-curricular model to create an integrative learning environment that maximizes intentional learning opportunities outside of the classroom. The CSUSM model will be based upon the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education standards, the CSUSM General Education Learning Outcomes, the Association of American Colleges and Universities LEAP Initiatives, and the CSU Employer Survey. University Housing will pilot the model in Spring 2013, with a campus-wide implementation in 2013-2014 Academic Year.
  • The Career Center coordinated the Major and Minor Fair in November of 2011 to provide undeclared students and those students thinking about changing their majors an opportunity to explore academic majors in an informal environment with faculty and academic advisors.  The Fair was a collaboration between First Year Programs, Student Affairs, the Career Center and Instructionally Related Activities Committee.  With the support of these entities and academic deans virtually all subject areas were represented.  The mission of the fair was to priovide easy access to knowledge about majors and to encourage students to declare majors earlier in their academic career.  Academic Affairs and Student Affairs worked together to pilot an Early Warning System to alert students who are having difficulty in courses to resources that are available to help them succeed.  At the end of the fall 2011 semester, higher percentages of students in the undeclared learning community had declared majors than undeclared freshmen in other classes.
  • Student Academic Support Services (SASS) hired a Student Academic Success Coordinator in January, 2011 to champion and forward the “intervention for success” initiative.
  • Disabled Student Services hired a part time counselor to provide intensive educational coaching to our 17 enrolled students with Aspergers and Autism Disorders (ASD).  This was a critical support service for our ASD students who tend to have a difficult time transitioning from high school to postsecondary education.  The assigned DSS counselor met with the ASD students on a regular basis and provided them with constant feedback about how to work through academic problems they were experiencing.  Several ASD students graduated in Spring 2012 and the feedback from them and their parents was very favorable.  Presently, DSS is continuing with the educational coaching program which is needed to support our growing number of ASD students.
  • TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) has been using various forms of intrusive advising for our students for several years.  In 2008, we added another evaluation known as “Early Interventions” for our First Year students only, which involved sending emails to instructors requesting feedback on our students’ progress.  In 2011-2012, we updated the process and rather than sending an email to the instructors, the 28 First year SSS students were informed that they needed to bring a hard copy form to their professors between the 3rd and the 5th week of classes for both the fall and the spring semesters.  There were two very positive outcomes from this update.  The first was that students increased their interaction and discussion with the instructors, and the second was that if any concerns were mentioned by the instructors, SSS staff worked with the student to develop strategies and actions to help them improve. The results show that this strategy proved to be very successful.  SSS had 100% retention for our 2011-2012 First Year students. Furthermore, students who participated in both fall and spring semesters of Early Interventions generally had a higher GPA. By comparison, the average GPA for this group of students at the end of their first year was 3.16 (with the highest GPA being 3.75) while those who did not participate had an average GPA of 2.8. In addition, the retention of our First Year students has contributed to the overall 93% retention rate (graduated or currently enrolled) for all SSS students who participated in the program in 2011-2012.

  • To assist students experiencing academic and non-academic issues negatively impacting their academic success, Personalized Academic Success Services (PASS) was developed by the Student Academic Support Coordinator to help CSUSM students find solutions to the problems they face and successfully earn their degrees.
  • In partnership with University Corporation, Student Life and Leadership increased parent and family engagement by collecting contact information for over 700 families during New Student Orientation, hosting a Bon Voyage event at housing move-in time, utilizing social media as an information outreach to parents and inviting them to campus events.

Below is a chart reflecting the progress made, as described above, relative to the themes generated at the Graduation Initiative Discovery Café.


Café themes

Actions Taken Since the 2009 Visit as of Fall 2013



  • Completion of curricular roadmaps for the highest unit majors.
  • The Career Center coordinated the Major and Minor Fair.
  • In partnership with University, Student Life and Leadership increased parent and family engagement.
  • Piloted an Early Warning System to alert students who are having difficulty in courses to resources that are available to help them succeed.

Intervention for


  • Block registration piloted through EOP Summer Bridge cohort.
  • SASS hired a Student Academic Success Coordinator.
  • Established Personalized Academic Success Services (PASS)
  • Undergraduate Advising Services (UAS) increased the use of the Degree Progress Reports (DPR).
  • Disabled Student Services hired a part time counselor to provide intensive educational coaching to students with Aspergers and Autism Disorders (ASD). 
  • TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) revised its intrusive advising process from sending emails to instructors for student progress information to a student driven “hard copy” progress report.  


Engage students
on campus through employment and
student life


  • New Student Programs and Multicultural Programs expanded the Peer Mentoring program to recruit and train 20 volunteer mentors to support 40 First Year mentees in their transition to college.

Cohort/community (e.g. the learning community program)


  • Addition of Learning Community for “Undecided students”

Mentoring for students


  • New Student Programs and Multicultural Programs expanded the Peer Mentoring program to recruit and train 20 volunteer mentors to support 40 First Year mentees in their transition to college.

Data collection
and dissemination


  • Use of retention/graduation data piloted in program review self-studies.
  • Male retention gap study



Issues to be addressed:

1.    Properly equip and prepare instructors of FY students.

2.    Assess and improve advising structures and practices.

3.    Structure experiences and environments that increase students’ sense of belonging.

4.    Address issues associated with “roadblock” courses, both those with high failure/withdrawal rates and those that have unmet student demand.

These issues will be addressed in the following ways:

  • GISC will undertake a comprehensive study of advising practices, through an inventory of advising, student focus groups, surveys, and study of best practices nationally and make recommendation for any needed changes.

This task will be completed by July 2013

Responsible parties: GISC

  • Review “lessons learned” from first summer of Early Start and apply to planning second summer of Early Start.

This task will be completed by February 2013.

Responsible parties: AVP for Academic Programs; Director, CLASS

  • Nurture existing and expand First Year Learning Communities.

          This task is ongoing. 

          Responsible parties: First Year Council

  • Use of DFW study to determine ways to reduce the rate in identified courses. The Faculty Center, through its Teaching and Learning Fellows, and working collaboratively with college deans, is identifying several courses to pilot for redesign during the 12-13 academic years, for implementation in 13-14.

The first phase of this task will be completed by August 2013, with course implementation in 13-14.

Responsible parties: College deans; Faculty Center Teaching and Learning Fellows

  • Implement the second phase of the SOAR Referral System in People Soft , designed to streamline and track referrals, in AY 2013-13.

          This task will be implemented by August 2013.

          Responsible parties: Associate Dean of Students; Director CMS project

  • Explore offering a spring Professional Development Retreat for Instructors Teaching First-Year Students.

This task will be completed by February 2013

Responsible parties: First Year Council

  • Develop a “Student-to-Student Peer Leader” model to be incorporated into GEL 101.

This task will be completed by May 2013

Responsible parties: GISC and First Year Council

Attachments 1.Program_Review_Policy_and_Guidelines.pdf, 2.AA_Stragetic_Plan_Priorities.pdf, 3.Acad_Affairs_3_Year_Rolling_Plans.pdf, 4.Three_Yr_Rolling_Plan_Template_Part_1_Narrative.docx, 5.Three_Yr_Rolling_Plan_Template_Part_2_Funding_Proposal.xls, 6.Strategic_Planning_Timeline_FY1314_to_FY1516.pdf, 7.LAMP_Senate_Resolution.pdf, 8.WascContRetentionGradTable.xlsx, 9.Remediation_Trends_and_Gains_2006_2010.pdf