The American Council on Education (ACE) has selected Western Oregon University as one of 10 higher education institutions to participate in the inaugural Learner Success Laboratory (LSL), which is a program that will support WOU in its strategic planning.
LSL is part of a suite of Transformation Labs offered by ACE to guide colleges and universities through a structured strategic planning process to advance critical institutional priorities. Participants will work over a period of 12-18 months to integrate evidence-based practices for persistence and completion, life design and career exploration, and workforce skills development, ultimately producing a comprehensive strategy for learner success. The pilot cohort will begin work in October 2020 and is supported by a grant from the Strada Education Network. WOU’s Academic Affairs and Student Affairs divisions will work collaboratively to explore how WOU can better help students develop connections to their futures out of their time at the university.
WOU’s current strategic plan, Forward Together, guides the university through 2023. The support WOU will receive from ACE, national experts and colleagues at other institutions in the cohort, will ultimately feed into the university’s next strategic planning cycle that will be built upon the foundation of Forward Together.
“As Western Oregon University evolves to serve a changing population of students, we seek to be intentional about supporting all of our students as whole persons,” said Sue Monahan, associate provost for program development. “With the ACE Learner Success Lab, we are eager to explore how our students’ experiences at WOU—in and outside the classroom—can be woven together so that all students graduate from WOU prepared for, and confident in, their futures.”
WOU has numerous initiatives that support ACE’s goals for the LSL program, which include the Bilingual Scholars Program, Strong Start, Willamette Promise, and the university’s emerging status as an Hispanic Serving Institution.
Institutions in the cohort serve approximately 67,000 undergraduate learners in total and comprise a diverse range of two- and four-year, public and private institutions, and several current or emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions. The other institutions in the inaugural cohort are Elon University, Iowa State University, Labouré College, Massasoit Community College, Richard Bland College of William & Mary, Southeast Missouri State University, Union Institute & University, University of Hawaii-West Oahu, and Windward Community College.
“This is an important time to take action to further learner success, especially for post-traditional and traditionally underserved learners who are our new majority,” said Lindsey Myers, director of the Learner Success Lab. “As higher education reshapes itself in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions in the Learner Success Lab can leverage this opportunity to align their resources and build strategies that center and empower learners.”