2021 speakers Series - virtual & free!

With the cancellation of the 2021 National Student Success Conference, co-hosts University of South Florida and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities did not want to lose any momentum for the student success movement across the nation. That is why we are offering this series of FREE presentations from some of the plenary speakers rescheduled for 2022 and other higher education thought leaders and practitioners. Each one hour virtual session is aimed at sharing research and/or proven practices to advance students' success at your higher education institution. SEATING IS LIMITED so sign up today for any or all of the FREE virtual sessions below that you are interested in attending.  Be sure to share this series with your colleagues!

>> All Sessions Are Full -- Sign up for updates on the Speakers Series and the 2022 planned conference.



Wednesday, January 27, 2021  /  2:00 - 3:00 pm ET  /  Virtual

That’s What We Reckon: Observations on Efforts to Equitably Transform
Student Success in the Present and Future

This session will provide participants with perspectives gleaned by two student success experts through their respective and collective work with hundreds of institutions both before and during the pandemic. The two panelists, Drew Koch of the Gardner Institute and Charlie Nutt of NACADA, will focus on ways in which efforts to improve academic advising, course and curriculum redesign, and other higher education systems have and have not succeeded in the past and present, and what these outcomes might mean for the future of equitable redesign of the undergraduate experience. Part interview, part “Ask the experts,” the 60-minute session will allow the two panelists to share responses to the moderator’s and the audience’s questions alike. Join this interactive discussion to learn more about and shape the conversation about equitable approaches to student success.


Drew Koche photo

Dr. Drew Koch, President and Chief Operating Officer, Gardner Institute

Charlie Nutt Photo

Dr. Charlie NuttExecutive Director, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Melissa Irvin image

Dr. Melissa Irvin (moderator), Assistant Dean of Advising & Analytics, University of South Florida



Wednesday, February 24, 2021  /  2:00 - 3:00 pm ET  /  Virtual

Re-Imagining Higher Education to be Latinx and URM Responsive:
Developing Asset Based Approaches to Support Students

This session will provide an overview of some of the critical challenges students of color have faced in this COVID pandemic, while also bringing to light persistent inequities that first generation, Latinx and URM students experience in their academic journeys. This particular socio-political moment calls for a critical examination of approaches to pedagogy, financial support, student academic supports and interpersonal services. Culturally relevant approaches to serving diverse first generation students using equity focused and asset based frameworks are necessary for higher education institutions and systems that strive to remain relevant in this changing postsecondary context. This session highlights how to translate these frameworks into practice.


Frances Contreras photo

Dr. Frances Contreras, Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Education Studies, University of California San Diego



Friday, March 26, 2021  /  2:00 – 3:00 pm ET  /  Virtual

A Look into the Crystal Ball:
How Financial Aid Will Change in the Near Future and Beyond

The ongoing COVID crisis and the election of President Joe Biden has ushered in a rapidly changing higher education landscape. Nowhere else does that change seem to be as paramount as in evolving strategies and changes to Federal Financial Aid. This session will allow a panel of leaders in financial aid participants to communicate their thoughts and predictions on what the next few years will bring for students trying to fund their education during interesting times.


Justin Draeger photo

Justin Draeger, President and CEO, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Charleita Richardson photo

Charleita Richardson, Executive Director, Florida College Access Network (FCAN)

Brent Tener photo

Brent Tener, Director of Student Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University

Braulio Colon photo

Braulio Colon, Vice President, Florida Student Success Initiatives, Helios Education Foundation

Billie Jo Hamilton photo

Billie Jo Hamilton (moderator), Associate Vice President - Enrollment Planning and Management, University of South Florida 



Monday, April 26, 2021  /  2:00 - 3:00 pm ET  /  Virtual

Academic Advocacy as a Holistic Support through the Student Lifecycle:
A Model for Student Success

From early implementation of a coordinated care model to addressing critical institutional transitions, the integration of data-informed outreach allows Academic Advocates to meet students where they are and connect them to the network of support services for increased student persistence and graduation. This session highlights the Academic Advocacy model applied to student success efforts at the University of South Florida and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.


Amanda Knapp photo

Dr. Amanda Knapp, Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

tod photo

Leslie Tod, Director - Office of Academic Advocacy, University of South Florida

bombaugh photo

Dr. Michelle Bombaugh, Instructor - Higher Education & Student Affairs, College of Education, University of South Florida

Gregg photo

Dr. Delana Gregg, Director of Academic Learning Resources, Assessment, and Analysis, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

williams photo

Kim Williams, Data Manager - Office of Academic Advocacy, University of South Florida


Tuesday, May 25, 2021  /  1:00 - 2:00 pm ET  /  Virtual 

The Future of Higher Education

What are the major forces reshaping higher education?  In this session, Dr. Alexander begins by examining how digital technologies and tech-enabled practices are already transforming the academy, from data analytics to open access, AI, and ubiquitous computing. Next, we consider other change drivers, including some from outside higher ed: demographics, macroeconomics, and geopolitics. Other drivers at work within academia are also discussed, such as changing enrollment and new commitments to both better learning and racial justice. The presentation concludes by imagining future colleges and universities.


Bryan Alexander photo

Dr. Bryan Alexander, futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher