Standard 3

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% (3.A.1)The Student Affairs Division at Evergreen

The Student Affairs Division at Evergreen demonstrates a longstanding commitment to collaboration with academic programs, best practices and provision of services to enhance student learning and success. Evergreen’s Coordinated Study Programs have been described as our “best-known and arguably most influential pedagogical vehicle to demonstrate why learning is an all-encompassing experience for Evergreen students”.[1] Because of the centrality of these highly intentional learning communities, Student Affairs staff worked since the College’s inception to imbed support for students as seamlessly as possible into the academic experience.

Partnerships among student affairs professionals and faculty are a cornerstone of our work. They occur through committee work intended to improve teaching and learning at Evergreen as evidenced in the deliberations and recommendations of the “First-Year Experience Disappearing Task Force (DTF) Report and Recommendations (Exhibit 3.1). Teaching and curriculum development partnerships are intentional in our “Beginning the Journey” credit-bearing orientation program offered in Fall quarter (Exhibit 3.2). Other prominent examples of collaborative efforts include “Core Connectors” through which student affairs professionals are attached to first-year student programs and faculty rotation into the office of Academic Advising. Many more examples are included in the balance of Standard 3.

Student Affairs staff also collaborate across campus divisions to maintain a system of safety nets and early warning strategies to provide students with assistance when needed. This network involves faculty, residential life staff, advising, counseling, health services and police services staff.

Consistent with our educational values and aspirations for student learning, the Student Affairs division is committed to the affirmation and celebration of diversity. This is evidenced in the array of services and offices dedicated to diverse populations and perspectives, diversity-awareness workshops and events sponsored by the division, our collaboration with faculty in promoting diverse perspectives in the curriculum and in a staff drawn from diverse backgrounds.

Major accomplishments in the Student Affairs Division since our 1998 reaccreditation include: Technological Improvements (conversion to Banner, substantial improvements to the College Web site and transition to E-mail communication with students); Physical renovations in Housing and implementation of a new meal plan for freshmen in Residential Life and Dining; increased outreach and sophistication in Enrollment Management and Student Recruitment in the face of increasing competition for students; formal election of a Student Government; Intercollegiate Sports expansion and several major upgrades of physical space on campus including the addition of a new building (Seminar (II), Remodel of the Library Building, and plans for a major renovation of the Campus Activities Building. Each of these accomplishments is discussed in greater detail in the remainder of this standard.

Major challenges facing the Student Affair Division include the following topics: Coordination of enrollment planning for graduate and off-campus programs, providing services to students at different physical locations and on different schedules; an increasing number of younger students; support for counseling and health services stretched thin coupled with inability to raise fees due to I-601 limitations; increased numbers of incidents/cases requiring legal interpretation; increasing student/family debt; supporting expansion of Extended Education, Summer School, and a new graduate program (M. Ed.); Library remodel and Seminar I relocation; updating of College Web site.

% (3.A.2)Student Affairs Staffing

Cooperative and collaborative working relationships are the hallmark of Evergreen’s integrated service to students within Student Affairs and across the institution. Student Affairs is responsible for most services to students that support the academic mission of the institution, including academic advising and several auxiliary enterprises. Many student service offices are located in the Library building that is centrally located and also houses the Academic Deans, Provost, President, Human Resources, Business Services, Computing and Communications, and Advancement. For example, Enrollment Services, consisting of Admissions, Records and Registration, and Financial Aid, are located in the Library near business services such as Student Accounts and the Cashier. The divisional visional organization chart is in TBA and reflects the following departments within Student Affairs:

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

◘ Athletics and Recreation

◘ Enrollment Services


Financial Aid

Registration and Records

Student Employment

◘ Police Services


Telephone Operations

◘ Residential and Dining Services

Residential Life

Residential Facilities

Administrative Services

Dining Service

◘ Student and Academic Support Services

Academic Advising

Access Services for Students with Disabilities

Career Development Center

Counseling and Health Center

First Peoples’ Advising

Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Program (Gear Up)

International Advising

KEY Student Services (TRIO)

Student Activities

Upward Bound

◘ Student Conduct

Staffing, Job Descriptions, and Performance Reviews

Since 1998 the staff head count has grown 27%, from 123 employees to 156, primarily due to growth in Counseling Center and Enrollment Services staffing, expansion of the Children’s Center to serve twice as many children, and implementation of the federally-funded Gear Up grant. About 42% of professional staff holds advanced degrees, police officers are fully commissioned, and the Vice President, Vice President’s Executive Associate, and the Dean of Student Academic Support Services hold doctorates. Student Affairs has utilized state allocations, as available, to address compensation compression issues and to generate competitive salaries for exempt staff. A College-wide review of exempt staff compensation is being completed and recommendations are forthcoming. The division is staffed with accomplished professionals who deliver developmentally-based services that enhance students’ academic experience. Brief resumes of the professional staff will be available during the site visit.

Remaining active and current in professional literature and organizations is encouraged and in 2006-07 more than 40 exempt staff participated in a regional or national conference. About 10 individuals served in a leadership role with a professional association while about 20 wrote an article or presented in a professional venue.

Position descriptions for all staff are uniform in presentation and clear in assignments and expectations. These are updated regularly when vacancies occur, or during performance reviews. Classified staff is reviewed annually in accordance with their employment contract and exempt staff must be reviewed every three years per College policy, although supervisors in Student Affairs are expected to administer reviews annually. It is common practice to solicit evaluative feedback from students, faculty, staff in other units and those they supervise. In many instances student staff are also reviewed and provided with a written evaluation of their work performance.


Appropriate policies and procedures for student development programs and services are established. The objectives of each operating component are compatible and support the goals of student services. (Phyllis/Art)

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% (3.A.4) Resource Allocation

Student need and satisfaction surveys as well as principles and standards from professional organizations across functional areas are consulted to assess appropriate support for services. Budget requests are made biannually and vetted with staff in the division and prioritized with the Deans and Directors who report to the Vice President. These requests are incorporated into a systematic institutional budget process in which budget coordinators from the four divisions (Academics, Finance and Administration, Advancement and Student Affairs) review available funding and institutional and divisional needs and priorities to recommend appropriate budget allocations to the President. Student Affairs’ fiscal resources are, in general, adequate and when budget reductions have been necessary or reinvestments have been available Student Affairs has been treated in a manner consistent with other divisions. In recent years, Student Affairs has had autonomy to invest in some initiatives that require “one-time” purchases due to acquisition of indirect cost recovery from a large Gear Up grant. These resources have purchased such items as computer upgrades for staff, equipment upgrades in Police Services, improved software for the Recreation Center, or staffing augmentation in Student Conduct.

Since 1998 every area within Student Affairs except the Athletics and Recreation department has been remodeled and/or expanded or soon will be (Athletics and Recreation is located in the Campus Recreation Center that was built in 1989). In 2000 the Health Center was completely remodeled and doubled in size. The Counseling Center that had shared a space with the Health Center was relocated to another floor of the building. Police Services was also remodeled at that time.

In 2003-04 a new Children’s Center was built that increased the number of children that could be served from 37 to 70. It is now licensed to serve infants as young as six weeks old. The new Center was jointly funded from student activity fees and institutional funds, and replaced the Child Care Center that was located in the oldest building on campus.

In 2005 most of the areas within the Student and Academic Support Services (SASS) were relocated in a newly renovated section of the Library building. The new SASS location is much more student-friendly and includes a reception area for the first time. There is also space within SASS for two federal grants, Upward Bound and Gear Up that had been housed in satellite locations.

Residential and Dining Services issued over seven million dollars in Revenue and Refinancing Bonds in 2006. Of that amount, six million is for housing facilities renovations and upgrades. The projects were begun in the summer of 2006 and will continue through 2009.

Enrollment Services (Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration and Records, and Student Employment) and the Vice President and his staff were relocated to temporary offices in the summer of 2007 while a major renovation of the Library “A wing” is underway. This 18- to 24-month project will provide additional, more useable space to these areas.

In 2006 Evergreen students voted to incur a new student fee to fund a rebuild the College Activities Building. When completed in 2010, the expanded building will have additional space for student organizations, student activities administration and student events; a new student-operated food venue; as well as well as a remodeled bookstore and dining facility. The students voted to incorporate numerous green features in the project. In addition the College Master Plan suggests potential for expansion or renovation of the Campus Recreation Center and possible development of housing for students.

% (3.B.1)Student Support Is Directed at Identified Student Needs

Student Affairs staff provide a number of programs focused on the needs of specific student groups. The following table highlights a sampling of these efforts:

Student Population Program(s)
Entering Freshmen Beginning the Journey – A College readiness course
Core Connectors – Student Academic Support Services staff are attached to first-year academic offerings
All New Students Seminar Savvy – an introduction to what seminars are and effective seminar techniques
Conditional Admits one-on-one advising and orientation for students who have been admitted with a provisional status
Student Athletes comprehensive advising including with emphasis on schedule challenges and focus on areas for program concentration
Students on Academic Warning Advising for students who have received a warning letter to discuss plan of action for returning to “satisfactory” status
Students of Color “Critical Moments” case studies in which students from diverse backgrounds consider leaving the institutions or dropping out because of an incident related to a diversity issue(s)
First People’s Advising Services “Peer Education Program” -- provides multicultural programming for students living in the residence halls.
Pre-Orientation program (Scholars’ Programs) -- introduces incoming students of color to learning at Evergreen and provides an opportunity for the cohort to develop community.
First-generation, Low-Income Students “Keep Enhancing Yourself” Program (KEY)

Enrollment Growth and Student Demographics

As of 2006-07, annual average enrollment at Evergreen is up 385 (+10%) full-time equivalent (FTE) students since 1997-98. State funding has increased by 647 FTE (+19%). Since the Spring 2003 interim visit, enrollment has increased 59 FTE (1.5%) while funded FTE increased 306 FTE (8.0%) thus reducing patterns of over-enrollment as high as 250 FTE during the past five years to a very slight under-enrollment (-30 FTE) in 2006-07. (Figure 3.1: Annual Average Full-time Equivalent Enrollment)

The reduction in “over-enrollment” was one part planned – to reduce pressure on the classroom and avoid legislative “re-basing” to the higher number without additional funding – and another part unanticipated, especially in 2006-07. The drop in Washington state’s 2006-07 community college transfer enrollment was sharper than expected and an increase of lower-division seats funded by the state at three branch campuses drew more freshmen away from the College than expected. The combined result was a slight drop in total enrollment (-18 FTE) and further erosion in the over-enrollment “cushion” than was planned. Our short-term enrollment target is to return to a modest level of over-enrollment (approximately 100 FTE) by the 2008-09 academic year.

The College has also gone through a period of adjusting budget assumptions about levels of nonresident enrollment and tuition revenue. During the past five years, the College has (1) reduced over-enrollment of resident fee-paying students – originally built to offset tuition revenue declines due to enrollment of fewer nonresident fee-paying students – now unnecessary because of (2) adjusted tuition revenue and base budget assumptions to a reduced level of nonresident enrollment. We are now in a much improved enrollment and revenue position: The operating budget is no longer dependent upon over-enrollment of state residents to offset a decline in nonresidents, holding adequate revenue support in place without inflating the student/faculty ratio beyond state funded levels. Additionally, our nonresident enrollment has begun to grow modestly and currently exceeds budget expectations.

Student Demographics

Distinctive characteristics of Evergreen’s student body continue as reported in past reaccreditation documents:

  • Transfers students typically constitute 60%+ of our entering class (Figure 3-2: Composition of Fall Quarter Entering Undergraduate Degree-seeking Class)
  • Nonresident enrollment at the undergraduate level is high (20%+) for a public college (Figure 3-3: The Evergreen State College: Fall Quarter Enrollment History)

The proportion of freshmen in our entering class has risen in the past two years – from consistent levels in the 32%-35% range to 40%. Current estimates indicate that the proportion of freshmen will rise to 44% in 2007. The increase in freshman students is creating some staffing pressure in the curriculum and raises the importance of retaining this growing segment of our entering class well in the future.

Enrollment of students of color has held at 18% for the past six years, up from 16%-17% in the late 90’s. (Figure 3-3: The Evergreen State College: Fall Quarter Enrollment History) The proportion of students of color enrolled on the Olympia campus has increased slightly each year since Fall 2003 reaching 16% in Fall 2006. Our program located in Tacoma typically enrolls 55%-60% students of color and our Tribal Program is generally between 90%-100% students of color. (Figure 3-4: Distribution of Students of Color by Campus)

Undergraduate/Graduate mix and Full-time/Part-time proportions have remained essentially the same over the past ten years. (Figure 3-3: The Evergreen State College: Fall Quarter Enrollment History)

Retention and Graduation Rates

Overall undergraduate Fall-to-Fall retention has remained at or near 80% since Fall 2000. Freshmen are the group of students retained least well to the following fall and of that group, nonresident fee-paying freshmen tend to be retained at a lower rate. This is no doubt in some part due to the increased cost of attendance for nonresident students – nonresident transfer students are also retained at a lower rate than resident fee-paying transfers. (Figure 3.5 Retention Summary )

In general, the College is making a concerted effort to improve freshman retention rates, specifically through the new “Beginning the Journey” program described elsewhere in this section. (Exhibit 3.2)

Overall, Students of Color are retained at a rate equal to or slightly above the rate for Caucasian students. Retention of Students of Color tends to be highest in our Tacoma Program. Retention of Students of Color on the Olympia campus also tends to run equal to or slightly higher than for Caucasian students. We find this trend especially gratifying since our Olympia enrollment is predominantly white.

Evergreen’s first-time, full-time freshman six-year graduation rate is 55% for the most recent cohort (Fall 1999). While we hope to see improvement in freshman graduation rates as fall-to-fall retention efforts yield positive results, we view the current rate as comparable or better than our peers among public institutions. (Figure 3-6 Freshman Graduation Rates)

% (3.B.6)Appropriateness of Student Services

The research of Vincent Tinto has shaped the work of the practitioners in Student Academic Support Services (SASS ) regarding student retention at Evergreen. Our approaches to improving retention focus on two facets of student experience: academic and social integration. In the academic arena students interact with an academic discipline, learning and new interests, as well as with faculty and peers. In the social system students develop relationships with peers, faculty, staff who provide services and operate the college, and alumni. According to the research, in order for students to persist they need to feel a sense of integration and congruency, or “fit” with college, in their experiences. When students experience low levels of integration or congruency they tend to exit the institution. Fit questions might include, “Does the student have similar academic or personal experiences and interests as other students, faculty and administrators at the college?” and “Does the student share the aspirations and values of other students, faculty and administrators at the college?”

Mindful of the challenges associated with retaining students, SASS has established a set of retention strategies dedicated to providing a variety of forms of assistance to students to increase their ability to function and thrive within the Evergreen environment. These initiatives increase the opportunity and probability for all students to access support, thereby increasing their sense of integration and congruency within the institution and the likelihood of their ultimate success at Evergreen.

SASS practitioners’ actively engage in professional development through participation in key national and statewide organizations. This engagement results in implementing better approaches and strategies to serve Evergreen students in achieving their goals.

Exhibit 3.3 summarizes professional development activities and resulting improvements in services provided by SASS practitioners in the following areas: Academic Advising, Retention, General Education, Civic Engagement, Health and Safety, Student Engagement in Learning, Diversity, Legal Issues, and Budget Management/Regulations. (Link #X—Exhibit 3.3: Professional Development Activities)

Over the past few years special attention has been given to retaining undergraduates with specific emphasis on first-year students through outreach to new students entering the institution. A series of research-based initiatives and best practices have emerged which are directed specifically at increasing levels of student integration and congruency by helping students better understand (a) how the College works; (b) what they as students can expect of the College; (c) what will be expected of them as students; and (d) what support services and resources are available to them at the College.

These objectives are pursued through a series of activities under four broad categories:

  • A Comprehensive Orientation Program
  • Assistance in the Initial Transition to Evergreen
  • Self-Care, Health and Safety
  • Diversity and Community

The initiatives and objectives under each of these topics are presented in Exhibit 3.4: Retention Initiatives and Objectives. More detailed descriptions of these activities are provided in the relevant sections of this report.

% (3.D.2) Attention to Needs and Characteristics of Students

In SASS several offices provide intentional and direct support to students in underrepresented and protected classes. These groups include first-generation students, low-income students, students with disabilities, and students of color. SASS also provides advising support through existing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and to students who are seeking support for their spiritual development though we have not established designated offices for these services.

The relocation and renovation of the SASS center in the library has made the work of the unit much more visible and accessible. In order to create a welcoming environment there is a student desk with is staffed during operating hours. The design of the center is intentionally laid out to provide students easy access and amenities while maintaining a sense of privacy.

Offices located in the center are Academic Advising, Access Services, Career Development, First People’s Advising Services, Keep Enhancing Yourself (KEY) Student Services (TRIO), Upward Bound (TRIO), GEAR UP, and the Dean of Students. Prior to the relocation not all services were housed together and many were in cramped quarters. The design of the center has located adjacent to one another the Career Development Library and the Unity Resources Center, supervised by First People’s Advising Services. This co-location provides students of color and low-income students access to resources that can help think about their life’s work in a supportive environment. Student workstations are also located throughout the Center, providing students with the opportunity to check e-mail or the Web site and to work on assignments with trained staff available. The center also has several workstations with assistive/adaptive technology equipment for students with disabilities and houses the E-text equipment for students with disabilities.

As the Evening and Weekend Studies Program has grown there has been a great demand for support to students who come “after hours.” The center is open five days a week. Monday through Thursday the center is open from 8am to 6pm. The center is open once month on Saturdays to provide support to students enrolled in the Reservation Based Program.

Emphasis over the past years has been on giving students an early start in becoming acclimated to Evergreen. KEY has sharpened the approach to students by creating programs that increase academic success. One example is the Step Up program that was designed as a one-week summer orientation and college readiness program for freshman and transfer students who are first-generation students, students with disabilities, and low-income students. Because of academic need the emphasis of the Step Up program is on understanding the learning environment at Evergreen. Additionally, there is a heavy emphasis on reading as first and fundamental and writing as the critical companion to reading. Students spend several hours a day in workshops and seminars developing and strengthening their abilities to read and write under the direction of the writing center director and a faculty member with a background in writing.

The First People’s Scholars program has a similar emphasis, introducing incoming students of color to college life with the aim of developing a strong cohort. Students learn how the curriculum works, are introduced to faculty and staff of color, and explore the surrounding area to identify places which can address such personal needs as food, hair cuts/products, faith communities and local communities of color with whom they can identify.

KEY, First People’s Advising Services, and Access Services encourage students to follow their passions regardless of what they may feel or believe are restrictions. Students from these groups are encouraged and supported to apply for internship, study abroad, and scholarship opportunities. These programs encourage students to pursue fields or studies that the students might not have thought of as open to them.

Still new to the Evergreen environment is intercollegiate sports. SASS practitioners work closely with the Associate Director of Athletes to coordinate meetings with coaches; to conduct advising, study crew, and career workshops; and to conduct one-on-one advising sessions so that student athletes select an appropriate program and develop an appropriate academic and career plan in light of a review of their eligibility status. The retention of student athletes is good at Evergreen, but the level of contact between student athletes and the resources of the College was clearly questionable. One retention effort implemented in this past year is the development of a comprehensive academic advising strategy for athletes at Evergreen. More specifically, this initiative addresses the delicate balance between the demands of a full academic program and the demands of a collegiate sport.

SASS practitioners are alert to the issues that create crises and emergencies in students’ lives. Students come to the center or are referred by faculty to seek help regarding academic, financial or personal situations. Students are supported during crises by being assigned a case coordinator who can act as a resource person to assist the student in understanding their rights and responsibilities in navigating through the crisis situation. Cultural competencies (for whom?) include anti-oppression training, understanding the cultural of poverty, gender, age, sex, and class discrimination.

Outreach to school districts which have high numbers of low-income and first-generation middle school and high school students is one of the ways we have aligned with the mission of institution to serve our communities. We have done so by administering two pre-college programs--Upward Bound and GEAR UP. Each of these programs serves students in schools with at least 50% of students on reduced or free lunch programs. From these programs the students and their families learn college-going skills; participate in college visits, after school and summer programs; and are given professional staff support and resources to apply to the college of their choice. The work of both of these efforts have transformed school culture and developed cohorts of students committed to going on to postsecondary education.

Another response to our mission is our commitment to and participation in the College Success Foundation Achiever Scholars. The College Success Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fund this group of students. Each institution of higher education in the state of Washington signed an agreement to provide support services to these students. Students are required to meet with a SASS practitioner at least twice a quarter.

For the past nine years Evergreen has been involved in a project called Critical Moments. Critical Moments is an educational tool used both in and outside of the classroom. Critical Moments uses case studies of students who encounter situations from which they will determine if they will leave or stay in college. Over the years, Critical Moments has been used in the classroom and in peer training. Funding from the Hewitt Foundation was received to write case studies specific to Evergreen. These stories have been used with various student groups to develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking, empathy and deeper understanding of diversity in regards to culture, economics, age, and thought. The key here in terms of retention is that this project allows for students to practice to the fullest extent possible ways they can respond to situations which impact their persistence. First Peoples’ advising has provided leadership and a home for this project.


Standard 3.A - Purpose and Organization

Standard 3.B - General Responsibilities

Standard 3.C - Academic Credit and Records

Standard 3.D - Student Services

Standard 3.E - Intercollegiate Athletics

Supporting Documentation

See Supporting Documentation for Standard Three
  1. Kuh, G.D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J.H., Whitt, E.J. & Associates (2005). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.