People frequently ask me what the “secret sauce” for the UIA’s success is. While there are many elements I could point to in the scaffolding of our collaborative model, I believe the most essential ingredient is the UIA Fellows program. During the first year of building this work, I saw a common challenge on every campus: limited internal capacity to support collaboration and change work. To address this, we evolved and scaled a concept we saw at ASU onto our campuses, and over time our Fellows program has proven itself to be one of the most valuable and important elements of our work to improve student success.
Fellows provide each campus internal capacity to drive change while seeding a talent pipeline of future leaders skilled in facilitation, change management, and shepherding innovation. They allow student success administrators to breathe, do their jobs, and know that collaborative innovation will not be yet another under-resourced work stream. Too many great ideas fail to materialize because we never provide staffing support to ensure sustainable progress over time. UIA Fellows support (and are mentored by) highly effective senior student success administrators with overburdened plates (because good work in the academy is often rewarded with more work).
Over time, we have developed a critically important talent pipeline that the future of higher education always needed: bridge-builders, listeners, facilitators, and change agents. Most fellows are former first-generation college students, students of color, or Pell recipients, and all are passionate about student success. We continue to see exciting new collaborative national work drawing upon this new talent pipeline, expanding the potential impact of our work. Former fellows are now leading national initiatives, new collaboratives, UIA central, and have gone on to countless senior administrative roles at member institutions. I believe that developing this talented class of future leaders will be one of UIA’s greatest legacies.
The bittersweet nature of all this is that because fellows are so capable and talented, we always have to say goodbye as they leave us to move on and advance student success in new and different ways. Most recently, Dr. Derrick Tillman-Kelly, the former director of the fellows program and network engagement on the UIA central team (and the first Ohio State UIA fellow), returned to Ohio State to take on a new leadership position on campus. Like all our former fellows, we are immensely proud of him and can’t wait to celebrate the tremendous impact he will have in his career.
The most important thing we can do to transform our institutions is to invest in people, and the kinds of talented leadership higher education (and our students) need in the future. What talent needs do you see emerging on your campus? Is there a way you could support your current innovation and improvement work while you invest in the talent needs of the future?
UIA Member Spotlight
Since President Kristina M. Johnson arrived at The Ohio State University in mid-2020, she has hit the ground running to advance innovation throughout the institution. In our recent Weekly Wisdom interview, she shared insights from her vast leadership experience (including her time as Undersecretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and Chancellor of the SUNY System).
Thanks to President Johnson's expertise, earlier this month, the DOE named The Ohio State University one of 10 “Connected Communities” sites across the nation selected to design and pilot a new energy conservation project aimed at fighting the current climate crisis. OSU is the only university to receive this distinction. The project, led by an interdisciplinary team of Ohio State faculty and staff, received over $4.2 million in federal funding to implement and monitor energy efficient infrastructure upgrades on the Columbus campus over the next five years. Watch our recent interview to learn more about President Johnson's approach to leadership and building coalitions to address complex challenges.
Dr. Kaity Prieto
The Ohio State University
Dr. Kaity Prieto has nearly ten years of professional experience in higher education. Most recently, Kaity conducted interdisciplinary student success research for Ohio State’s Office of Student Academic Success as a Graduate Research Associate in Research and Program Assessment.
What is one of the most valuable things you have learned during your time as a UIA Fellow?
I’ve learned that thinking about Academic Affairs and Student Affairs as entities that can independently support student success perpetuates a false dichotomy and holds us back from our best work.
We do right by our students when we work in partnership—across differences, across functional areas, and across institutions.
Supporting the Bridging the Gap from Education to Employment initiative has made that incredibly clear. BGEE’s success hinged on a collaboration with multiple Student Life units, early arrival and academic recovery programs in the Office of Student Academic Success, and perhaps most importantly, students leaders. The initiative highlighted not only the importance of university partnerships, but also of leveraging student feedback to drive innovation.
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- Association for the Study of Higher Education Annual Meeting (Nov 3-6)
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Stuff we LOVE
- News Not Noise is a newsletter you might enjoy. Their slogan is “we give you news, not a panic attack.” (Created by a former WH correspondent for CNN)
- Tags for Hope An incredible gift for the pet lover in your life. (Order early for holidays)
- Traveling again? These toiletry containers from Cadence are fantastic
- Headphone options for cheaper & better audio quality than airpods (for those of us tired of hearing complaints about how badly we sound on calls.)
- Work from home game changer: this small, adjustable-height portable desk makes working from home/office a dream.
A Final Note
We’d like to leave you with this quote from Greg Fowler, President of UMGC reminding us to keep focused in this recent Weekly Wisdom episode.
"Go back to the fundamental basics of who you are and what you are trying to do well as opposed to chasing bright shiny objects."
- Greg Fowler