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Our Charge

Working in concert with the university community, we will address the following questions:

  • What is our overarching purpose and service philosophy?
  • Viewed from the student (and parent) perspective, what are the services they need and when?
  • Have we organized the touchstones for student progression and success based on the sequence of the educational process?
  • To what extent does our service "infrastructure" facilitate academic accomplishment, social adjustment, and economic stability and how do we effect these changes within the context of a traditional university?
  • What does success look like for today's AU students, and for those who will come after them?

The work of this project will take place in two distinct phases over the next four years with the goal of re-imagining our service culture and devising a new, more integrated model for structuring and delivering student support.

The first phase is funded by the Mellon Foundation and will occur over 18 months. It will include a comprehensive analysis of existing student support resources, followed by the development of a new support model that will address the challenges and recommendations identified in the initial analysis and integrate our current systems into a more seamless model of student support. It will be a model that will:

  • Provide essential services;
  • Better serve the needs of our changing student population;
  • Promote a culture of outstanding service;
  • Utilize technology in innovative, effective ways;
  • Tap into best practices from companies and industries outside of higher education;
  • Make effective use of university resources; and
  • Maximize student success.

The second phase (30 months) will consist of implementation of the new model, testing, and subsequent evaluation.

Two principal leadership groups are responsible for the RiSE project: a Leadership Steering Committee, which includes the Provost, Vice Presidents, Chief Information Officer, Deans, and Vice Provosts; as well as a Task Force consisting of relevant AU stakeholders and co-chaired by three members of the Leadership Steering Committee. The Task Force is broken into several subcommittees (Assessment, Expert Identification, Organizational Model, Financial and Human Resources, Technology and Communication). Both the Leadership Steering Committee and RiSE Task Force will be guided by the observations and recommendations of the Middle States evaluation team, specifically the injunction to look critically at the university's support infrastructure and, where appropriate, make changes that allow AU to better meet the needs of a dramatically changing student body, while fostering inclusion, retention, and academic success.

While other colleges and universities have launched similar efforts, which we will study carefully, these have tended to focus on specific areas within their organizations. To our knowledge, none has attempted a transformation as comprehensive and wide-ranging as the one we are embarking on here, with support from the Mellon Foundation. It is our intention, and that of our supporters at Mellon, to develop a new national model for student support, with outcomes and lessons that are fully transmissible to our academic peers.

Submit Feedback

If you have an idea or suggestion that you would like to communicate, please do not hesitate to contact the RiSE Task Force Co-Chairs, Fanta Aw, Sharon Alston and Peter Starr, at rise@american.edu. We look forward to hearing from you.