Extraordinary Practices: Spotlighting Excellence in Student Success

On Friday, September 28th, the Northeastern Minnesota colleges gathered at Lake Superior College to discuss initiatives and extraordinary practices that spotlight excellence in student success. The following schools were represented:

• Central Lakes College
• Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College
• Hibbing Community College
• Itasca Community College
• Lake Superior College
• Mesabi Range College
• Pine Technical College
• Rainy River Community College
• Vermilion Community College

The following individuals from MnSCU also attended:

• Karen Hynick, System Director of College Transitions and FastTRAC
• Trustee Thomas Reiner, MnSCU Board of Trustees Vice Chair

Also in attendance, and offering a keynote address, was Dr. Jillian Kinzie. The Associate Director at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, Dr. Kinzie conducts research and leads project activities on effective use of student engagement data to improve educational quality.

Dr. Kinzie’s speech provided the audience of over 100 staff, faculty and administrators from the above institutions with practical ideas to promote student excellence, engagement, and academic success. A few keynotes included the use of high-impact practices, providing students with a strong start, and clearly marked pathways.

Two discussion panels followed Dr. Kinzie’s keynote address. These panels provided specific examples from each school with the purpose of illustrating Dr. Kinzie’s abstractions.

The first panel focused on extraordinary practices in college readiness with presentations on the following:

• Establishing a Comprehensive Learning Commons by Central Lakes College
• Coordinating High-Impact Practices into Learning Communities by Hibbing Community College
• FastTRAC: A Cohort Model of Hope and Success by Itasca Community College
• Redesigning the Developmental Education Program: Challenges and Opportunities by Mesabi Range College

The second panel focused on extraordinary practices in student success with presentation on the following:

• FastTRACking Student Success by Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College
• Cooking for Fun and Careers in the Food Industry by Lake Superior College
• Collaboration, Large and Small, is Key to Student Access, Opportunity, and Success by Pine Technical College
• Rainy River Community College Student Ambassador Program by Rainy River Community College
• Retention Begins at Cornerstone by Vermilion College

A question and answer period was held after each panel discussion.

Other discussions included a plenary session spotlighting First Year Experiences as well as a conversation focused on Extraordinary Challenges: Talking about Next Steps. These sessions provided time for groups to answer a few questions, one of which included describing “one project that you would like to work on next year to foster student success at your college.” A few ideas included the development of service learning initiatives, the redesign of first day orientation, and further development of FYE’s.

Overall, this collaborative effort focused on discussions to foster powerful learning experiences so more students can succeed in college; attendees were also provided with practical tools for implementing discussed ideas and examples.

A few take a-ways included:

• Checklists
• Collaboration among staff, faculty and administration
• The assurance of inclusion of students.

Below is a link to WDIO’s channel 10/13 Duluth news coverage of the event:


2 thoughts on “Extraordinary Practices: Spotlighting Excellence in Student Success

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    1. Thank you for your comment and question. This particular conference included only the members of NE Community College Alliance. However, we are planning to have future NE events on extraordinary practices and would be happy to have state universities particpate.

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