Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, Winston-Salem State University has identified these contributions that Winston-Salem State University aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.


Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, WSSU will produce 711 low-income graduates, an increase of 23.7% (136 additional low-income completions over a base of 575).

From WSSU: The university recognizes that the cumulative disadvantages resulting from historical race and class inequities converge to limit not only students’ access to higher education but also their ability to succeed once in college. To achieve this metric, the university will continue its work toward allocating resources to students who have financial and cultural obstacles limiting their ability to fully engage their academic potential. Academic support services will be enhanced to improve course completion rates, and comprehensive advising will help students progress from entry through graduation.  The university has joined the Educational Advisory Board’s Student Success Collaborative, which uses powerful data analytics to drive customized support messages to and activities for individual students.

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, WSSU will produce 455 rural graduates, an increase of 13.2% (53 additional rural completions over a base of 402).

From WSSU: Students from rural counties in North Carolina encounter many of the same challenges facing our low-income students. Many of the same measures in Priority Metric 1 will be implemented to assist students who are from one of the 80 Tier 1 or 2 counties—those counties identified as being among the most economically disadvantaged in the state.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, WSSU will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 52.2%. This is an improvement over a base of 45.2% for WSSU’s 2010 cohort.

From WSSU: WSSU has made impressive gains in graduation rates over the last five years and is currently two percentage points above the goal. WSSU is rolling out a series of interactive tools such as EAB Navigate (an early warning system), Upswing (an online 24-hour tutoring program), FOCUS 2 (a career exploration and planning resource), Guidebook (a mobile app), Super strong (a web-based career planning assessment tool), My Foundation Lab (a web-based tool to enhance basic skills), Igrade (an online money management tool), Admit Hub (a personalized text messaging tool), and Degree Works (a degree auditing and tracking tool). All of these are designed to assist modern students as they progress through their academic programs.

Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, WSSU will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between male and female students.

From WSSU: WSSU is working to implement new technologies that allow for early identification of at-risk students. Using analytics, advisors will be able to tailor their approaches according to individual need. The tool (EAB Success Collaborative) will also allow the university to identify where programs have barriers to completion, which majors have the most students at risk of not graduating, which interventions make the greatest impact, and how support resources can be maximized. This technology, paired with the university’s high-touch student success model, should yield significant reductions in the achievement gap between male and female students. Toward that end, the university has formed a Male Student Success Committee as part of a larger institutional student success strategy. The committee is designed to analyze male subgroup performance data and consider implications relative to institutional policies, procedures, and processes.

Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, WSSU will produce 1,108 critical workforce credentials, an increase of 31.9% (268 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 840).

From WSSU: To produce more graduates in educator preparation, STEM, and health sciences, the university must increase enrollments in these programs. The need to revitalize the education majors through increases to both enrollments and completions is an objective outlined in the WSSU Strategic Plan. Additionally, the university has formed an “Enrollment Management Steering Committee” and a “Retention Committee” as part of a larger institutional student success strategy. The Enrollment Management committee is designed to assess and evaluate current recruitment and enrollment strategy and offer recommendations to the enrollment management team on ways to increase enrollment in all degree program areas. Similarly, the Retention Committee examines student retention data, focusing specifically on various subgroups. Based on its analysis, this group offers recommendations relative to instruction and institutional policies, procedures, and processes that may increase retention and completion rates, particularly in critical workforce degree programs.


Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, WSSU will enroll 2,940 low-income students, an 8.0% increase over 2015 levels (218 additional low-income students over a base of 2,722).

From WSSU: WSSU currently enrolls a high number of low-income students, and our enrollment of low-income students is up eight percent. Recruiters will engage students on a personal level and help them envision WSSU as a school that offers great value and affordability. Digital marketing, follow-up messaging, invitations to on-campus tours and open houses, and other strategic activities will target interested students, encouraging them to choose WSSU and offering assistance through the enrollment and financial aid processes. Additionally, the university has launched a 2+WSSU initiative designed to increase enrollment among our community college transfer population, which generally represents low-income and rural students.

Rural Enrollments

By fall 2021, WSSU will enroll 1,571 rural students, a 6.1% increase over 2016 levels (90 additional rural students over a base of 1,481).

From WSSU: Recruiters will be assigned to territories in North Carolina, engaging rural students in counties and high schools that have not typically sent a lot of students to WSSU. By reaching these students on a personal level, recruiters will help them envision WSSU as their school of choice. Once a student is interested, digital marketing, follow-up messaging, on-campus tours and open houses, and other strategic activities will be used to drive students to apply, complete the enrollment process, and choose WSSU as their new university and home.

Research Productivity

By 2021-22, WSSU will receive $11,037,286 in research and development sponsored program and licensing income, an increase of 5.0% ($523,582 additional over a base of $10,513,704).

From WSSU: WSSU is almost $3 million over its annual goal and has exceeded the FY22 research productivity goals. The university hopes to maintain our current research output in the hard and social sciences and increase our work in the health sciences. The centers for Excellence in the Elimination of Health Disparities and the Study of Economic Mobility will engage researchers in projects that will lead to increased grant acquisition. Further, the university has created a new position—Associate Provost of Scholarship, Research, and Innovation—to provide oversight and strategic direction in this area.


Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, WSSU will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 24.9 over a base of 22.4.

From WSSU: WSSU is one of four institutions participating in a Teagle Foundation and American Association of Colleges and Universities-funded project to create a more coherent and efficient curriculum across undergraduate majors. Providing clarity and intention in the curriculum improves learning productivity while also reducing costs, both for students and the university. Streamlining efforts helps students see clearer pathways toward graduation and may include the following strategies: adjusting course requirements for graduation; eliminating or not requiring non-essential courses; and addressing issues with courses with high-failure rates, which tend to prevent students from progressing into high demand majors.

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