New Initiatives, Focus and Continued Support: Highlights from Ivy Tech Community College

As a member institution, Ivy Tech Community College relies on NASPA’s resources and staff for a variety of needs valued by our campus community and student affairs professionals. From events, publications, to networking opportunities, our membership provides our campus community the opportunity to connect with professionals, research, and resources in more ways than one, both virtually and at in-person events around our region and across the United States.

In recent years, the focus of my campus community has gone beyond student affairs — our campuses have shifted our focus to strengthen our commitment to student success.  Within my office and across other departments our discussions regarding student retention and access to higher education have quickly led to the concept of student success and the goals of the students we serve.  We actively listen to the needs of the institution but are also aware that our efforts will ultimately come back to student’s desired outcomes.  As the leading community college system in Indiana, we want to ensure that our students and staff benefit from our new approach to student success across all our campuses.

A large advantage we made was our vast number of campuses and dedicated professionals.  The conversations helped us develop a number of new initiatives and approaches to student success, some of which I will be sharing with you today.  In addition to our committed campus community, we rely on NASPA staff to assist us with research, data, and utilizing their vast network to connect us with colleagues who are committed to similar focuses on their campuses.

Here are some examples of our new or newly focused approaches at Ivy Tech:

Predictive Analytics of Student Success

Project Early Success” launched in the Fall of 2016 as a way to engage hundreds of administrators, faculty, and staff members to proactively contact students identified as possibly being in need of extra support in order to be successful.  Through this initiative, the college calls identified students to “check-in” with them during week three or four of the semester. 

The hypothesis was that if we could predict who might not be successful and intervene early, we might assist them rather than see them fail. The program continued in the spring of 2017 and preliminary results are beginning to show validity in the efforts.

Although the college began this work without NASPA’s research or involvement, once the two parties learned of each other’s work, more collaboration was done and when NASPA was preparing an article for the Winter 2017 Leadership Exchange, Ivy Tech was asked to share their work for the readers.  Additional collaboration and sharing of research and current practices has continued as a result of this effort.

Emergency Aid Research

For over 17 years, Ivy Tech Community College (Lafayette Campus) has had an Emergency Loan Fund for students.  The privately sponsored fund assists students with unexpected and difficult financial situations.  Emerging trends and changes were driving college administrators to review the use of this fund and examine (statewide) how the college could further support success.  “Wrap around” services emerged as the various campuses piloted different types of support aimed at assisting college.  During this period, NASPA released research entitled Landscape Analysis of Emergency Aid Programs.

NASPA’s timely release of resources on this topic was instrumental in our continued efforts to reexamine our aid programs to determine the best way to continue Ivy Tech’s work to assist our students.  This research and the practical applications gathered from other institutions have assisted Ivy Tech strategically plan for the future support of students. 

Professional Development

I joined NASPA about 30 years ago and have been fortunate enough to be able to attend state events, regional conferences, and many annual conferences.  I always learn from the colleagues presenting or while visiting with them during informal gatherings.  Because of this, I work to provide opportunities for my staff to attend these professional development gatherings. 

Last year, following the creation of a “number two position” within student affairs, the newly hired staff member saw a conference sponsored by NASPA for those serving as the Assistant Vice President (number two’s).  She was able to attend the conference and came away with increased knowledge, renewed purpose, and great resources.  Once again, NASPA is there just when we need it!

Resources, Resources, Resources

Whenever I am looking for a solution to an issue, I look to my colleagues and to our professional organization; NASPA.  From professional competencies to finding a reliable vendor to research on a specific topic, the first place I look is the NASPA website. The second source is to contact colleagues met through the networking at NASPA events.  

Much more discriminating than a Google search, I have grown to understand the importance of the work NASPA staff does on behalf of the membership and the profession.  Dr. Krueger’s involvement with the “movers and shakers” in Washington, D.C. and his proactive approach to issues impacts our students aid, our students and me in many ways.  The association’s commitment all institutional types, all individuals, and issues that are relevant, has made me a NASPA member for life.

Dr. John Laws is the Vice Chancellor for eight campuses within Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana.  In his 18th year at Ivy Tech, Dr. Laws is the Chief Student Affairs Officer and oversees all aspects of enrollment management, registrar, student life, academic advising, conduct, disability support service, financial aid, veteran’s affairs, campus security and more.

Dr. Laws has worked in various aspects of Student Affairs for 37 years at four-year public and private institutions in addition to his current community college role.  Dr. Laws has also served NASPA as both a Board Member and the Community College Division Chair.  He has presented at many conferences and has had several articles published throughout his career.  He was also the 2012 recipient of the NASPA IV-East Community College Professional Award and the 2013 NASPA National Community College Professional Award.

To learn more about an Institutional Membership with NASPA or to get more information on renewing for the 2017-18 Academic Year, contact our Membership Team at 202-265-7500 or [email protected]