Pathways to Student Success

November 28, 2017

Three members of Tulsa Community College’s Board of Regents joined their peers from 29 other community colleges nationwide at the recent Pathways Project Institute 6 in Seattle. Board Chairman Paul Cornell, along with regents Wes Mitchell and Robin Ballenger participated in the final Pathways Institute on Oct. 26-27.

The final in a series of Pathways conferences, Pathways Institute 6 focused on a theme of Policy Meets Pathways: Governing Board roles and Policy Change.

“It was exciting to see our board members interact with others who are doing this important work and getting to talk about their commitment to Pathways and how they can support their institutions, and the Pathway goals,” said Mackenzie Wilfong, TCC’s general counsel who also attended the Pathways Institute. “I think that was incredibly meaningful.”

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathways Institute presented a series of conferences designed to assist participating community colleges in improving dismal completion rates among their student populations.  Only 30 community colleges from among hundreds nationwide were selected to participate in the Pathways Institute.

The Pathways goal is to ensure more full-time students graduate or transfer on time, and are better prepared to enter the workforce through completion of a meaningful certificate program.

Institute 6 presented participants with a number of objectives to ensure institutional policies and boards reflect the Pathways philosophy. Objectives were:

  • Consider implications for institutional policy, procedures, and processes in implementing guided pathways.
  • Discuss role of Trustees in codifying and sustaining institutional implementation of guided pathways.
  • Consider opportunities for practitioners to influence state policy discussions around student success, affordability, and pathways reforms.
  • Explore role of state systems and associations in spurring and managing change.
  • Examine needs and opportunities for community colleges to enhance partnerships with K-12, workforce, and human service agencies to support pathways for students.
  • Reflect on college progress and achievements over the course of the Pathways Institute series; plan for next steps in implementation of pathways at scale.

“Sometimes we look at policies as stand-alone and don’t look at the ‘downstream’ impact of them,” Wilfong said. “This Institute really broadens the perspectives so that policies can be compliance issues, but also we need to look at how they impact student success and completion.”

Sessions also included a lot of networking opportunities for board members from different schools to meet their counterparts.

“The conference was very valuable and provided an opportunity to talk with peer institutions about how they have reviewed their policies in light of the Pathways work, these insights are critical to our continued work at TCC.”