Student Success

RWU has a long tradition of being a student-focused institution. To continue responding to the evolving needs of today’s students, Roger Williams must turn our efforts towards becoming an institution that goes beyond student-focused and become a student-ready institution (McNair, Tia Brown, et al. "Becoming a student-ready college: A new culture of leadership for student success"). Working to become a student-ready institution challenges us to focus on proactive efforts to meet the needs of today's students, viewing learning not through the lens of a deficit model but rather through the lens of inclusion, accountability and educational value. 

We aim to create institutional change by: working with all students to develop their educational pathways, providing mentorship that is integrated with academic advising and career advising, adapting our institutional supports to best serve students and identifying and removing barriers to success.

We must be proactive in our response to student needs, embrace new and creative ways to help students develop and set them on a course to thrive in their lives and careers.

To help our students achieve their fullest potential, we commit to:

  • Integrating career and academic advising throughout all of their years at RWU, with scaffolded support and programming based on where students are in their education. 
  • Prioritizing equity and inclusion in all of our efforts. 
  • Increasing access and financial assistance to an RWU education. 
  • Ensuring support for the physical and mental well-being of our students.
  • Launch new data collection and sharing initiatives that analyze student academic performance, student experience and graduate outcomes.

While our goals for student success are inextricably linked to other strategic priorities, particularly academic excellence and engaged learning, the following focus areas will help RWU direct its efforts to even better serve our students. 

Personalized Educational Pathways 
RWU must create pathways to and through the university that meet students where they are and guide them to where they strive to go in their lives and careers. While our academic rigor will challenge and push students to develop intellectually, we will also support every learner along their educational journey. RWU offers endlessly customizable educational pathways for all students through our undergraduate, graduate, law, professional and trade programs, residential and commuter educational experiences, accelerated undergraduate and graduate programs, joint undergraduate and law degrees, advanced college-credit courses to prepare high school learners for college, and credentials, certificates and trade skills to help working professionals advance in their careers or make a career change

We will help students identify their academic and personal goals through robust approaches to academic and career advising, mentoring and opportunities for community engagement. Personalized support will allow every student to create an academic plan, explore their interests, and identify opportunities that will help them succeed in their academic pursuits and career aspirations. This approach to student success requires close coordination across faculty advising, professional advising, academic support services and academic engagement offices, including the academic schools, the Center for Student Academic Success (CSAS), the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), Community Engagement (CE), University College’s Center for Workforce and Professional Development (CWPD), and RWU Law’s Office of Career Development.   

Serving Diverse Learners 
As higher education experiences a shift in the student population to a more multigenerational community of learners, RWU must continue to understand the varied needs, learning styles, and resources required to best support them. Our experience serving diverse student populations at University College will provide a foundation for how we can apply those strategies to all of our current and future students. 

The university needs to be innovative, utilizing new technologies, pedagogies, and strategies in teaching to serve our increasingly diverse learners, and to continue to offer the flexibility and customization in educational pathways that students and families are seeking. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has resulted in an equity-minded approach that will allow us to develop more inclusive academic and socio-emotional support, promote affordability and return on investment, increase representation, and create a sense of belonging for all students. We will strive to remove barriers to an RWU education, promote access, and provide financial assistance, counseling and emergency assistance. We aim to eliminate obstacles to academic achievement by promoting equitable policies, procedures and support across our campuses.    

Focus on Student Wellness 
RWU is committed to being a leader in student wellness, because we know students can only thrive in their educational studies when they feel supported in all parts of their lives. In order to educate the whole person and enable a transformative educational experience, we will provide holistic support that allows students to become self-advocates, develop their sense of self, meet their developmental needs, and feel empowered to take charge of their academic, emotional, financial, and physical well-being. We will make this an institutional priority and part of the RWU educational experience for residential and commuter students, undergraduate, graduate and law students, non-degree learners at University College and dual enrollment students.

Select 2021-2022 Initiatives

  • Pilot a First-Year Learning Communities program, with plans for assessment and design of support programming going forward
  • Develop a comprehensive program for sophomore students that promotes engagement in career exploration, internships, campus engagement, research, and other opportunities for academic and personal development
  • Develop a mentoring program and training opportunities across faculty, staff, alumni, and external community to support student success and career-readiness
  • Implement Integrated Advising Models – strengthen collaborations between Center for Student Academic Success, Center For Career and Professional Development and academic schools
  • Renew efforts to internationalize our student enrollment and expand study abroad and exchange opportunities; with a further eye to ensuring all students are able to live, learn, and work within a community of diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions and abilities
  • Continue to improve and enhance the transfer student experience and support ease of student enrollment between University College and other schools of study
  • Design new summer course opportunities and academic camp experiences targeted to high school students
  • Design and launch new bridge program opportunities, especially in STEM fields

Embedded Equity

RWU began as an adult educational institution inside the Providence YMCA in 1919, rooting our values in providing access to education for underserved students and in directing our collective energy toward student success for every student, especially those in need of additional support.

Increased access and equitable student outcomes have always been at the core of RWU’s mission. It is in our DNA. Our Equity Action Plan set the stage for understanding the experiences of underserved populations and challenged us to move towards becoming a student-ready college. Our current efforts to support students with minoritized identities, including first-generation students, students of color, students with disabilities, students in the LGBTQ+ community, economically challenged students, and veterans, have helped us harness data and explore best practices that will inform the university’s efforts to continue improving inclusive student support. 

Measuring Our Progress

Progress through the university, student engagement and satisfaction, and career placement are the most standard and comparable metrics RWU will use to measure student success. Specifically, first- to second-year retention, student satisfaction, and overall retention and graduation rates, as well as student outcomes into careers, including employment rate, employment in desired field, average starting salary, and percentage of students pursuing graduate degrees.  

We know that retention and graduation rates alone are not sufficient to measure engagement, satisfaction and the depth of the RWU experience. Therefore, RWU will create a robust schedule of administering assessment instruments such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) along with other tools to measure success.