Conference Focuses on Students

Faculty, staff and students gather to share ideas and celebrate progress on student success initiative.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2011) - Paul Dosal, vice provost for Student Success, greeted a ballroom filled with about 200 students, faculty and staff gathered for the second annual Student Success Conference Thursday afternoon at the Marshall Student Center.


He spoke about the progress being made by the USF Office of Student Success and the Student Success Task Force, leading participants in what he terms the student success movement. The movement involves a campus-wide, cross-section of USF community members mobilizing to infuse student achievement in everything they do. 


“What we’re trying to do is spread our energy and enthusiasm throughout the university,” Dosal said. “I’m already witnessing progress and evidence of change for the better every day.”


Jennifer Meningall, vice president of student affairs, then introduced the keynote speaker of the event, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She emphasized his numerous achievements which include being recently named co-winner of the 2011 Carnegie Corporation’s Centennial Academic Leadership Award that recognizes outstanding leadership excellence and equity in education. 


In a talk that ended with a standing ovation, Hrabowski spoke about the changes in attitudes and expectations at his university that have resulted in higher graduation rates and increased numbers of Ph.D.’s, especially in the sciences.  He is the co-author of two books, Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males and Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women.  He asked the audience to remember that, “thoughts lead to words, words lead to actions, actions lead to habits, habits lead to character and character leads to destiny.”


After a break, participants at each of the tables discussed a list of questions that focused on how to foster student success.  At one table, Marcus Wattington, a senior majoring in history and international studies served as facilitator. Recommendations from faculty and staff included improving communication between undergraduates and senior faculty who primarily teach graduate students and putting more of an emphasis on the importance of writing skills.  They agreed that both students and faculty need to be able to offer and take constructive criticism in service of supporting student success.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.