|MSU STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PROPOSAL FOR INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES|
|Title||Transitioning Tribal College Students into MSU STEM Degree Programs||Request Date||2012-11-29|
|Department||College of Engineering, College of Letters and Sciencesfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Requestor||Anne Camper/Paula Lutz||Phone||994-5782|
|Cross Depts||Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Ecology, Animal and Range Science, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Health and Human Development,Civil Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry,Mathematical Science|
|Proposed Dates||Start: March 2013||End: February 2015|
|This pilot project will create processes and procedures to overcome barriers encountered by Montanaís tribal college students transferring into bachelorís degree programs at MSU. It builds on established connections between MSU and the seven tribal collegeís STEM faculty to create clear transfer/articulation agreements for six STEM degree programs. Curriculum alignment will be incorporated into DegreeWorks. The project will enhance tribal college transfer student recruitment and retention by connecting students with a knowledgeable MSU mentor/advisor. Best practices needed for expansion to all degree programs at MSU will be identified.|
|This proposal most directly targets Objective A.2: Diversify the student body via Metric A.2.1: By 2019, the number of Native American students enrolled will increase to 800 (45 percent increase). Closely related is Objective A.1: Educate more students while maintaining the quality of programs, Metric A.1.2: By 2019, the number of new transfer enrollments will increase 15 percent to approximately 1,100.|
|COST AND REQUIREMENTS|
|Funding Type:||One-Time Only Funding||Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding|
|FY13||FY14||FY15||Base ($)||OTO Startup ($)||FTE;|
|Materials & Supplies|
|Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.||
The annual budgets are upper estimates. Since individual faculty have not been identified (although there are likely candidates as per information in the proposal description) an estimate of $8000/mo per faculty was used. One month’s salary for Julian Collins, who oversees AIRO/DOC was included. Julian will be responsible for coordinating all of the travel and other communications through the Burns Center. Anne Camper and Paula Lutz were included at 0.5 mo/year to coordinate the efforts with tribal college faculty and administration, oversee progress, and interface with MSU’s faculty and administration. Anne Camper is on a 0.8 administrative /0.2 faculty appointment and is responsible for generating a portion of her own summer salary. In her faculty appointment Paula Lutz is also responsible for her own summer salary. Travel costs are based on one car with four people traveling to each of the seven tribal colleges per year, plus one night’s stay and per diem for each person. Additional costs are to cover a two hour telecommunications session through the Burns Center with each tribal college per year, plus one additional call.
|Describe the Proposal|
“I didn’t really know about the options after obtaining my Associate’s; and when I thought about going to MSU I didn’t know how my credits were going to work out. It would’ve been really helpful to know exactly how my credits would transfer…It was really frustrating.” – quote from tribal college transfer student Kendra Teague with permission to use.
The above quote, obtained this fall from a student who attended our American Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO) Advisory Board meeting is indicative of barriers encountered by students who wish to transfer from Montana’s tribal colleges to MSU. If students can begin their careers at their tribal colleges with a roadmap and encouragement to pursue a bachelor’s degree at MSU they are more likely to take this path. Students also need to identify and connect with an advisor at MSU who can help them understand the steps they need to take to set their sights on a bachelor’s degree.
The concept for this proposal addresses this and other student concerns and has been taking form for at least two years. As part of a Native American Recruitment proposal funded by the Office of the Provost, we conducted research to determine issues that impact the recruitment and retention of Native students at MSU. Specific issues associated with transfers were initially identified at the AIRO Advisory Board meeting in May 2012 and further investigated at a second board meeting this fall. Additional conversations have been held with Native American MSU students who had transferred from tribal colleges, tribal college faculty and staff, tribal college administrators, and MSU staff and administrators (Ronda Russell, Heather Wofford, Jim Rimpau, Bill Yellowtail, Scott Zander). Also included were faculty from several MSU departments who have been dedicated supporters of Native students. Although many issues associated with improving the recruitment and retention of Native American students at MSU were identified, addressing transfer issues emerged as the most direct and cost effective method for improving MSU’s ability to recruit qualified Native American students. A key component is the understanding that interactions with Native students are based on personal relationships, and this proposal is built on a foundation of improving relationships and communication between tribal college students, tribal college faculty, and MSU faculty.
Data on Native American student enrollments and transfers at MSU are included in Table 1. With the intent of increasing enrollments to 800 by 2019 (Strategic Plan Metric A.2.1), a considerable amount of work needs to be done. Numbers of incoming transfer students have been relatively flat for the past seven years, suggesting that efforts to date have not been particularly effective in increasing yield. This is further supported by data in Table 2. Transfers from Montana tribal colleges have consistently ranged between 15 and 19 students since 2009. Along with anecdotal information from tribal college administrators stating that their enrollments are down by 50% this year (most likely due to changes in the Pell Grant criteria), these numbers point to a significant challenge in meeting the strategic plan enrollment goals.
To systematically address the issues associated with transferring from tribal colleges, a decision was made to begin with a pilot project housed in the AIRO/DOC program and focused on students in the STEM disciplines. Because there is no central point on the MSU campus for coordinating issues associated with Native American student initiatives, we have chosen to locate this project under the umbrella of the American Indian Research Opportunities/ Designing our Community program. The AIRO program has been at MSU for over 30 years, promoting STEM research to Native American and other underrepresented minority communities. AIRO has worked with the research faculty from the College of Engineering, College of Letters & Sciences, College of Agriculture, and the College of Nursing to bring diverse research experiences to high school students, tribal college students, and full-time MSU undergraduates in the STEM disciplines. The AIRO program has also worked to establish connections with Montana’s seven tribal colleges by including science faculty from each of the tribal colleges on its Advisory Board. Meeting twice a year, the AIRO Advisory Board works to recruit transfer students from the tribal colleges, and to strengthen the communication and connection between MSU and the tribal colleges to help students transition into MSU. AIRO has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institution to achieve these goals and build tribal college connections. Recently AIRO and DOC (focused primarily on Native students in engineering) were combined into one program overseen by Julian Collins. Camper and Lutz are the principle investigators on several large NIH funded programs under AIRO, and Camper serves on the administrative core of the INBRE grant that has made substantial contributions to growing STEM programs on the tribal college campuses.
This decision to focus on STEM disciplines was made for several reasons: (1) AIRO’s focus is on STEM disciplines and nearly all AIRO students at MSU are tribal college transfer students, (2) there is infrastructure and expertise already in place through the AIRO office to coordinate the project; (3) tribal and MSU faculty who have become acquainted with each other through AIRO, INBRE and the NIH Bridges grant are in the STEM disciplines, (5) MSU has a competitive advantage in recruiting tribal college STEM graduates due to the recognized strength of our STEM programs, and (6) a focus on STEM disciplines is a reasonable first step for a pilot program.
Based on the interests and enrollments of AIRO students and those of other Native students in STEM degree programs, departments suggested for initial involvement include six MSU degree programs in Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Ecology, Animal and Range Science, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Health and Human Development, and Civil Engineering. Chemistry and Biochemistry and Mathematical Science involvement is also crucial; tribal college students should know if the math and chemistry courses they take at the tribal colleges will transfer as components of these six degree programs. Upon successful completion of this pilot project, the lessons learned can be adapted to other degree programs across campus contingent upon availability of funding
The project is focused on these challenges:
The best strategy to addressing these challenges is by direct faculty-to-faculty links (tribal college to MSU). Fortunately, MSU has a group of engaged and interested faculty with a history of working with Native students through AIRO in the disciplines named above. Many of these faculty have expressed an interest in being involved with this project. There are key STEM faculty at the tribal colleges who have been engaged through AIRO, INBRE and the NIH Bridges grant willing to work with MSU faculty to solve these problems. The project aims build on these collaborations and are focused on the responsibilities of the liaison MSU faculty:
This proposal seeks funding for one month salary for eight faculty (from six STEM degree programs, also faculty from math and chemistry)for two years; these faculty will be responsible accomplishing the above aims. Salary is sought because successful completion of the outlined aims exceeds what can be expected as part of faculty’s service load. Timing for the use of this month of salary will be determined by the faculty and department head, and could be for release time or summer salary. Other requested resources would cover the work of a logistics coordinator (Julian Collins, Director of AIRO/DOC), overall project management and direction (Camper and Lutz), travel, and communications costs.
The project includes the following steps. All aspects of the project would be led by Camper and Lutz.
TABLE 1. MSU Undergraduate American Indian/Alaska Native Enrollment by College, Fall 2012 (http://www.montana.edu/opa/nativeamerican/nativeenrollment.html)
Note: Students may identify as more than one race or ethnicity. For this report, students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native are included whether or not they identify with another race or ethnicity as well.
Table 2. Tribal college transfer student numbers
*Formerly Fort Belknap College
|Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal|
At the highest level, this project will foster stronger relationships and an increased level of trust between MSU and Montana’s seven tribal colleges. There is the potential to greatly enhance MSU’s presence on Montana’s tribal college campuses by creating culturally relevant personal connections between faculty at both institutions. These personal connections will also extend to students, providing a needed sense of community and communication with prospective advisors at MSU. Faculty-to-faculty discussions will increase awareness of the processes and procedures at both institutions and create opportunities for improving student success. It is also probable that faculty at tribal colleges will feel more comfortable in guiding their promising students towards attending MSU if they can point them to a known, dedicated advisor. We envision that an outcome of this project is that tribal college STEM majors will see a clear, navigable and supported pathway from entrance at the tribal college to completion of their degree at MSU. It is also probable that as transfer student numbers increase, there will be a ‘cohort’ of transfers from each tribal college who can mentor the next group of incoming students. Having colleagues who understand the transition from the tribal college to MSU can only increase the comfort level of the new students.
Tangible benefits include: (1) the creation of articulation agreements that will decrease time to degree completion for transferring tribal college students and optimize use of their Pell Grants, (2) the review of syllabi in important math and chemistry courses and other relevant STEM courses at the tribal colleges to give guidance to the tribal college faculty on how course content translates to the acceptability of credits in specific degree programs. The intent is to optimize the student’s chances for transferability of courses so there is less need for them to retake these classes at MSU, (3) the collection and input of data needed to adapt DegreeWorks for advising tribal college transfer students, (4) an increase in students transferring from tribal colleges to MSU, (5) the establishment of a process model for implementation for other departments/degrees, and (6) increased retention and graduation of Native American students from MSU with STEM degrees.
March 2013 (start date): (1) Identify MSU faculty to be funded by the program by working with department heads and faculty who have already expressed interest in the project. Notify tribal college faculty and administrations of funding. Identify key tribal college faculty who will be involved in the program. Identify am MSU tribal college transfer student to participate in an advisory capacity. (2) Set meeting for MSU faculty and key tribal college faculty to discuss project goals. (3) Schedule diversity training for MSU faculty. (4) Determine monthly meeting schedule. (5) Request syllabi and degree program curricula from tribal college faculty.
April 2013: (1) Through the AIRO office, begin scheduling travel to tribal colleges for MSU faculty. It is desirable for faculty to have an in-person visit with half of the colleges each year, with the remaining visits the second year. Travel will be coordinated to coincide with other planned AIRO, Bridges or MSU travel to reduce costs and optimize interactions with the tribal college faculty. (2) Schedule connections through the Burns Center for situations where face to face travel is not feasible
Summer 2013: Initiate travel and distance communications between tribal college and MSU faculty. Commence work on articulation agreements. Initiate plans to mentor tribal college students entering MSU during fall semester.
August 2013: Meet to review progress towards review of course syllabi (all STEM courses with emphasis on math and chemistry) and transfer agreements, determine steps needed to complete agreements, review plans to mentor incoming tribal college students.
Fall semester 2013: Continue development of articulation agreements, add information to DegreeWorks. Demonstrations of DegreeWorks to tribal faculty will take place. Implement mentoring/advising of incoming tribal college transfer students. MSU faculty will be involved with the fall AIRO advisory board meeting.
End of year one: Have articulation agreements brokered between MSU for the six degree granting departments at MSU and have course content information clarified for math and chemistry. DeegreeWorks will be updated with appropriate information. Collect data for assessment.
February 2014: Review processes and procedures from year one, determine mechanisms for improvement. Determine mechanisms for continuing communication between tribal college and MSU faculty. Schedule s meeting between all tribal college and MSU faculty involved in the project to review progress and assess efficacy of the program. Survey tribal college transfer students about their experiences after arriving at MSU.
March- May 2014: Repeat travel arrangements as per April 2013. Include meetings with prospective tribal college transfer students (freshmen through nearing completion of associate’s degree) to discuss articulation agreements and provide assessment on transfer credits using DegreeWorks.
Summer 2014: Complete travel or distance communication as necessary. Refine processes for mentoring tribal college students before and after arriving at MSU. Determine mechanisms for continued communications between the tribal colleges and MSU to keep articulation/transfer agreements current. Work with incoming tribal college transfer students to facilitate their arrival at MSU.
Fall semester 2014: Expand the project to explore mechanisms for encouraging tribal college students to attend MSU through conversations with prospective transfer students, current MSU students from the tribal colleges, and tribal college faculty and the Office of Admissions. Collect project assessment information from MSU, the tribal college faculty/administration, and transfer students. Prepare report on lessons learned.
January-February 2015: Complete report, schedule meetings to discuss outcomes with appropriate groups at MSU and the tribal colleges.
Assessment will be based on determining the efficacy of the established processes. Data will be collected on the number of incoming transfer students to determine any improvements, but these numbers may not change significantly within the two years of this project. Long term, the intent is to increase STEM transfer student numbers from 15-19 to 25-30.
By the end of the second year the following assessments will be made for each of the aims:
|If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?|
The proposed pilot project is for two years. At the end of this time, upon thorough review and discussions with the tribal colleges, the University can decide if it is worthwhile to continue funding for these departments/degree programs at the same level or at a lower maintenance baseline. Successful completion may lead to expansion of the program to other departments using the same or revised model, after review of the efficacy of various elements in the pilot program.
|Dean/Director:||Brett Gunnink (email@example.com)|
|Executive/VP:||Martha Potvin (firstname.lastname@example.org)|