The CSU Student Success Network Conference Schedule

The Time Is Now: Forging New Visions for Equity in the CSU

Thursday, October 14

Student Engagement in the CSU Plenary || 10:00-11:00

Dr. Adam Petersen, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Academic Success, CSU San Marcos

Dr. Marissa Vasquez, Assistant Professor, Postsecondary Educational Leadership; Associate Director, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), San Diego State University

Dr. Daniel Galvan, Director of Acceleration Initiatives and Student Engagement College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, CSU Los Angeles

Dr. Kathy Thornhill,  Director of Undergraduate Advising, Career Services, and Community Based Learning, Humboldt State University.

Student Engagement in the CSU Knowledge Exchange: A Community Conversation || 11:00-12:00

Facilitator: Dr. Adam Petersen, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Academic Success, CSU San Marcos

Join us as we come together as colleagues across the system to share ideas on how we can work towards equitable student engagement in the CSU. Because this is a Zoom session, capacity is limited to 150 participants.

Session 3 || 12:30-1:30

Embedding Peer Educators to Address Equity Barriers for Student Success

Brook Masters, Coordinator of Student Academic Success Service, CSU Channel Islands

Thomas Adams, LRC Lead Tutor, CSU Channel Islands

Will Fleming, LRC Tutor, CSU Channel Islands 

Isabel Molina, LRC Lead Tutor, CSU Channel Islands

In response to vulnerabilities for equitable student success that were exacerbated by the pandemic, the Learning Resource Center dramatically expanded its embedded peer educator program in the Fall of 2020. This strategy aims to bring academic support services directly to students, removing potential barriers that disproportionately affect students from historically excluded communities. As a result of our efforts, the LRC placed an embedded peer educator in sixty sections of targeted classes chosen for their historical level of difficulty, high enrollment, and/or status as a gateway course. Early data lend support for this initiative. Usage numbers for Fall 2020 demonstrate a marked increase of freshperson visitors to the tutoring center, from 1.12% of class enrollment in Fall of 2018 to 7.39% of class enrollment in Fall 2020. For juniors (which includes transfers), usage increased from 3.99% of class enrollment in Fall 2018 to 8.25% of class enrollment in Fall 2020.


Learning Online 101: Preparing students for Successful Remote Learning during Times of Change

Jazmin Campos, Academic Success Coordinator, First Year Experience, CSU Sacramento 

Lynn Tashiro, Professor of Physics & Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, CSU Sacramento 

Bridget Parsh, Professor of Nursing, CSU Sacramento 

Tina Jordan, Assistant Vice President for Student Success Initiatives, CSU Sacramento

Som Sayasone, Administrative Support, Center for Teaching and Learning CSU Sacramento

Crystal Sims, Instructional Designer, Center for Teaching and Learning CSU, CSU Sacramento

The presentation is about how to leverage open source materials from other CSU’s to quickly create a university level tutorial course to prepare students for online learning success and gather information about their online learning readiness. The five presenters will discuss the identified need, development, marketing, and results of an online program to support students with remote learning using the campus learning management system.  A team of experts from the tutoring center, first year experience, campus communication, and faculty development, collaborated to develop the LMS system at no cost.  Survey results and data from over 3400 students enrolled in “Hornet Learning Online 101” will be shared on topics including Learning Management System (Canvas) skills, effective study strategies, growth mindset, and access to reliable computers and high speed internet.


CSU Student Success Network Featured Session: Getting to Equity by Leading from the Middle

Malcolm McLemore, Associate Director, Student Transition and Retention Center, CSU Chico

Alaina Castor, graduate student researcher, CSU Chico

Dr. Jason Nice, Professor of History, CSU Chico 

Dr. Chiara Ferrari, Director of Faculty Development, CSU Chico

Chico State teams have participated in three Student Success Network Middle Leadership Academy cohorts, and have made remarkable progress on data-driven campus equity initiatives as a result. A panel of cross-divisional campus representatives will highlight those achievements—including a new campus Strategic Priority, a faculty Grades and Equity Gaps Dashboard, and a one-stop digital student help center—while illustrating the specific middle leadership strategies that enabled them. In addition, participants will be provided with an interactive “Getting to Equity Planning Guide” to facilitate similar efforts on their home campuses. Initial work on that guide will be done during the session.



Mental Health Safeguarding and Scaffolding: Synergetic Opportunities Between Faculty and Counseling and Psychological Services

Dr. Bonnie L. Gasior, Professor of Spanish & ITL Faculty Fellow, CSU Long Beach  

Dr. Lissa Lim, Psychologist, CSU San Marcos

Dr. Darci L. Strother, Professor of Spanish & ITL Faculty Fellow, CSU San Marcos

This session addresses “What are we doing to improve advising, health, and counseling services to better support students’ whole selves…” Drs. Strother and Gasior are certified Mental Health First Aid Instructors and Faculty Fellows with the Chancellor’s Office, who are currently certifying faculty across the CSU. Dr. Lissa Lim is a bilingual counselor and on staff at CSUSM’s CAPS. Together, we will discuss how MHFA and counseling centers can (and should) effectively collaborate to ensure the mental wellness of our students. We draw from our previous webinar work on mental health (2020) that includes issues of access and equity. We also envision doing at least one breakout room activity to teach participants about signs and symptoms of some of the most common mental health challenges among our students and provide examples of appropriate language to use when approaching a student who is or on the verge of becoming unwell.


Saying No to Say Yes: Librarians Mediating Technology Needs from the Middle

Catherine Fonseca, Faculty, Sonoma State University

Rita Premo, Faculty, Sonoma State University

Hilary Smith, Faculty, Sonoma State University

Kaitlin Springmier, Faculty, Sonoma State University

This session invites participants to reflect on the ways middle leadership roles offer distinct opportunities to see and surface inequities on campus. Faculty librarians discuss how they leveraged their middle position to respond to technology-related inequities during the pivot to remote instruction, from establishing safe working conditions for staff, to increasing students’ access to lending equipment, and providing instructional support to non-library faculty. Panelists share best practices for establishing and enforcing boundaries, necessary steps when resources are limited, priorities differ, and vulnerable populations are overlooked. Panelists also offer strategies for boundary-setting amidst varied stakeholder groups—that is, managing up, managing laterally, and managing down. Participants will be invited to reflect on and share examples of ‘saying no’ as a strategy for prioritizing underserved populations at their campuses. By empowering middle leaders to enact boundaries, institutions better position themselves to transition their crisis-informed actions towards lasting, equitable change across the university.

Session 4 || 1:45-2:45


PTSD Screening and Support for Student Success

Dr. Alejandra Acuña, Associate Professor of Social Work, CSU Northridge

Dr. Allen Lipscomb, Associate Professor of Social Work, CSU Northridge

CSUN Alumni: Hilda Navarro, Jeremiah Buenrostro, Mark Emeka, David Contreras

Undetected and untreated PTSD symptoms (e.g., difficulty paying attention, difficulty sleeping, irritability, diminished interest in activities, and feeling isolated) can interfere with learning and student success. Voluntary stress screening was offered to undergrad and grad students. Further, Coping & Resilience (C&R) groups (a six-session adaptation of an evidence-based intervention) were led by trained graduate students at CSUN. Fifty undergrads (54% male, 90% students of color), with a mean PTSD symptom score of 34 at pretest (considered in the “moderate” range of symptom severity) participated. As expected, student PTSD symptoms improved after group participation. Large public universities serving underrepresented students are uniquely positioned to become trauma- and resilience-informed systems and to provide resilience-informed support to promote student well-being and success.

Withstanding our status as outsiders-within: Creating Counter Spaces for Students of Color

Lizette Ruiz, MS Clinical Psychology Student, CSU Fullerton

Marisol Brito, MS Clinical Psychology Student, CSU Fullerton 

Dania Salgado, MS Clinical Psychology Student, CSU Fullerton

The Psychology Association of Graduate Students of Color and Allies (PAGSOCA) established in Spring 2019 at California State University, Fullerton is a social, academic, and professional organization that serves to promote the success and interests of graduate students of color in the Psychology Graduate Program, and their allies. This organization aims to foster a sense of community by empowering relationships with peers and faculty by collaborating with members and faculty to educate about and promote cultural diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence within the Psychology department. This session will provide an overview of how we invest in equity efforts in and across our program. Additionally, the session will also provide an overview of how we have leveraged this opportunity for change, the early outcomes and implications we have seen as a result of our efforts.  In providing an overview of the steps we have taken, along with student testimony and experiences (Maton et al., 2011), we hope to engage faculty and students in critically reflecting the ways that institutions of higher education continue to upload oppressive and racist systems (Williams, 2019; Yosso et al., 2009), to encourage faculty to collaborate with students across campuses, and invite others to join in on this journey as we forge towards equity within the CSU. Our vision is to inspire and embolden other students of color in higher education. University enrollment and degree attainment have historically remained unequal, with students of underprivileged backgrounds attaining fewer degrees (CalState, n.d.; National Center for Education Statistics, 2018; Tienda, 2013). In part, this has been due to students of color facing formidable challenges associated with transitioning and adapting to college (Delgado Bernal, 2010; Williams, 2019; Yosso, 2005; Yosso et al., 2009). By continuing the work our predecessors began, PAGSOCA has cultivated a community of scholars of color. This space has proven integral to student wellness and persistence in an oppressive education system.

Reimagined Virtual Upper-Division Laboratory Experiences in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Culturally Responsive and Trauma-Informed Virtual Lab Development & Equity-Minded User Experience Testing

Dr. Sara Callori, CSU San Bernardino

Joshua George, CSU East Bay

Dr. Blake Gillespie, CSU Channel Islands

Dr. Frank Gomez, CSU Chancellor’s Office

Dr. Jane Lehr, Cal Poly SLO

Sejal Kargal, Cal Poly SLO (alum)

Dr. Shirley Yap, CSU East Bay

The rush to online course delivery in response to COVID-19 revealed limitations of commercially available virtual labs. Existing virtual labs focus on content delivery and generally poorly support student exploration. In addition, the effectiveness of virtual labs is not well understood, particularly for specific student populations including Hispanic/Latinx students. To address these issues, three educators in the CSU system designed new virtual labs that focus on high impact scientific/mathematical processes, relate to real life events brought about by the pandemic, and are culturally responsive and trauma-informed. Learn about development processes and results focused on student experiences in the new virtual labs. The primary methodology for this research is equity-minded user experience (UX) testing, an interview-based method in which users (students) are asked to talk aloud as they complete tasks (virtual lab). Student reflections on UX testing show that the research method, itself, contributes to student sense of belonging.

Academic Recovery as a Moral Imperative: Theoretical and Practical Directions to Refocus Institutions on their Struggling Students

Dr. Adam Petersen, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Academic Success, CSU San Marcos 

Dr. Ashley Gragido, Associate Director of Student Success & Academic Resiliency, CSU San Marcos

Academic Recovery programs such as the UNIV courses at CSUSM started the same way as many “innovative” practices at the CSU: small scale programmatic efforts, in this case to improve retention rates for students on academic probation. But how can we institutionalize such labor-intensive programs that serve struggling students, students with low success rates even after programmatic intervention? Justifying this labor requires a change in perspective and a renewal of the commitment of the CSU to provide pathways to transformative education for all students. We must realize and embrace the moral imperative we have to create learning environments that accept struggle and failure as meaningful experiences. This session hopes to 1) lay the theoretical groundwork for institutional change around academic recovery, 2) provide a practical framework for prioritizing this work at CSU campuses, and 3) provide a space for campus teams to develop action plans to carry this work forward at their own institutions.

Session 5 || 3:00-4:00

Holistic First Year Support for STEM Freshmen: Integrating Student Success Class with Academic Advising and Peer Mentoring Programs

Valerie Bagley, Coordinator of Student Support, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, CSU Long Beach 

Carole Duffis, Coordinator of Academic Advising, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, CSU Long Beach 

Dr. Kris Slowinski, Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, CSU Long Beach

The key priority of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) at CSULB is to create a student-centered environment that fosters equity and access. Despite recent success in improving graduation rates and decreasing time to degree we are concerned with unacceptably large equity gaps in some of our retention and graduation metrics. The proposed presentation will describe a pilot approach that integrates first year student success class with targeted academic advising, and peer mentoring program. A one-credit asynchronous student success course to assist the first semester students in their transition to college was integrated with mandatory academic advising and “opt-in” learning communities / individual peer mentoring program. The modular structure of the course allows students to personalize their curriculum to work on necessary skills. Additional one-credit asynchronous course was offered in the second semester as a targeted intervention, focusing on additional skill building customized to the needs of individual students. We will share how we have created and taught these courses, the campus partnerships that we utilized, and how we have integrated academic advising and peer mentoring ensuring that each student has a unique plan and support system to succeed as a STEM major.

Men of Color in Higher Education: Strengths, Barriers, and Strategies for Student Success

Dr. Alejandra Acuña, Associate Professor of Social Work, CSU Northridge

Dr. Jonathan Martinez, Associate Professor of Psychology, CSU Northridge

Dr. Adrian Huerta, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Southern California

Less than one-third of Black males and over one-third of Latino males who begin at four-year public institutions of higher education complete their studies within six years.  

To identify nonacademic support factors and barriers in order to improve graduation and retention rates, this study utilized focus groups of a Black and Latino students at a public university.  The findings are consistent with past research that identify financial, familial, trauma, and community of origin dynamics as both barriers and supports but reveals a nuanced concept not captured in the existing literature – purposeful vulnerability. Purposeful vulnerability refers to a mindset that supports engaging academic, social, and psychological resources to improve personal achievement. Poster stories from faculty, alumni, and students who are men of color were created to provide counter-narratives and model purposeful vulnerability to inspire men of color in higher education.

CSU Student Success Network Featured Session: "I had to surpass": Administrative Barriers of First-Generation Students of Color

Keena Walters, Graduate Assistant, Education Insights Center

College students have more to do than pass classes in college. There are many additional tasks that have to be completed in order to succeed in higher education. The nonacademic tasks that students have to fulfill can be a barrier, particularly for first-generation students of color. It’s important for schools to understand ways that students’ success can be hindered by nonacademic barriers. These barriers are administrative in nature because they often include forms, fees, deadlines, and more. Such college administrative barriers were identified in a qualitative study using interviews, process mapping, and a focus group. This presentation will share the voices of first-generation college students addressing the administrative barriers they faced, the effects of these barriers, and how they persisted. The goal is: 1) With this information college instructors and staff can provide better support to first-generation students of color. 2) Universities can see the ways that students are affected by college processes and possibly minimize them. 3) The method uncommonly seen in research of process mapping will provide college employees with a possible tool to use for understanding and connecting with students.

The Universality of Equity & the Opportunities in Crises

Dr. Gina Baleria, Assistant Professor, Communication & Media Studies, Sonoma State University 

Dr. Nadiya Parekh, Assistant Professor, Management, School of Business & Economics, Sonoma State University

The move to remote learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic began as a crisis response, which was disruptive, jarring, and stressful for many students and faculty. But, the nature of any crisis response – which involves necessity, immediacy, and adaptability – inherently leads to opportunities to evolve our approaches and try new strategies to engage students, cultivate inclusion, and improve learning. Reflection throughout this process over the past year has provided instructors with opportunities to intentionally and deliberately prioritize equity, inclusion, and student well-being; as well as discover and embrace strategies designed to increase equity and lead to outcomes that are positive, helpful, and illuminating for all students and instructors. We will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis allowed us to find new ways to prioritize equity and inclusion, as well as how our equity-based strategies.

Launching HornetAttain! at Sacramento State

Brian Bedford, Associate Dean, Strategic Initiatives, College of Continuing Education, CSU Sacramento

Dr. Tony Sheppard, Professor of Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration, CSU Sacramento

Kaley Martin, Project Management Specialist, College of Continuing Education, CSU Sacramento

HornetAttain! re-engages former Sac State learners who left before earning their degrees to help them return and complete. This involves the re-engagement of an identified group of former Sac State learners using an innovative, cross-institutional approach in order to facilitate and support degree completion. However, as we focused on specific groups, including Latinx students and adult learners (through grant-specific initiatives), we discovered interesting and challenging characteristics of not just stopped out students but near completers, who are far more likely to be Pell eligible than the general student body. We also identified various administrative barriers which contribute to degree non-completion and hinder re-admission. This presentation will introduce participants to the HornetAttain! outreach and engagement process, lessons learned, and things we wish we had known sooner. Issues of scalability will also be discussed, along with the applicability of this approach on other CSU campuses.

Conference Closing: Opportunities for Engagement and Support through the CSU Student Success Network Knowledge Center and Grant Program || 4:15-5:00

Dr. Larissa Mercado-López, Conference Director

Dr. Bianca Mothé, Network Director

Dr. Ioakim Boutakidis, Network Grants Development Specialist, CSU Fullerton

Past Conferences


Contact: Larissa Mercado-López, Annual Conference Director



USC Race & Equity Center’s Equity Now! Series


Annual CSU Student Success Network Conference


Annual CSU Student Success Network Conference


Virtual Middle Leadership Academy


Virtual Middle Leadership Academy


Virtual Middle Leadership Academy


Navigating Uncertainty Together, A Virtual Conversation Series

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