The HEDS Student Success Champions Program supports people at HEDS institutions who lead student success projects and helps develop their leadership and change management skills.

We created the HEDS Student Success Champions Program to advance student success efforts at HEDS institutions and to help participants develop leadership and change management skills.

Student Success Champions will work with, support, and learn from an interdisciplinary community of practice focused on student success. The community of practice includes other Student Success Champions, the HEDS Directors and staff, HEDS Board members, and leaders with experience in institutional improvement.

Champions will develop their skills as they design and/or implement a student success initiative at their institution. Champions will gain confidence in their leadership abilities and build resilience to work through challenges that threaten to derail institutional change efforts.

Applications for the 2025 cohort of Student Success Champions will open on July 1, 2024.

The program is open to any employee at a HEDS institution—including faculty, student affairs professionals, administrators, assessment professionals, and institutional researchers—who is, or will soon be, leading a student success project and has support from their institution.

Each Student Success Champion will participate in the program for a two-year term. We expect Champions to attend four meetings each year (two face-to-face and two virtual).

There is no fee for the Student Success Champions Program. The program is a benefit for our HEDS member institutions. We only ask that your institution cover the cost of your travel, food, and lodging for the two face-to-face meetings each year.

We will provide an estimated cost of each meeting soon. The estimated cost will cover three nights of lodging, food, and transportation between the Indianapolis International Airport and Wabash College.

We will help Student Success Champions develop their skills and support their projects with:
  • Two face-to-face meetings each year that focus on helping Student Success Champions develop practical leadership skills: including approaches to engaging the support of academic leaders, using evidence to advance projects, building coalitions, working with challenging faculty and staff, and keeping projects moving forward in dynamic institutional environments.
  • Two hour-long virtual check-ins each year between small groups of Champions and HEDS leaders for updates on their projects, troubleshooting obstacles, and honing plans for next steps. We will schedule a time with your group that works for everyone.
  • Ongoing consultations that will focus on real-time troubleshooting to help the Champions sharpen their projects and overcome barriers.
If you are thinking about applying, you should! Even if you don’t have a project completely fleshed out, share your ideas for your project in the application. I entered the program with one idea for a project, but that idea morphed and took on new life as I received helpful feedback from other participants. It is a safe and comfortable learning environment that helps participants not just focus on their projects but also their own development.

Jonathan Manz, Lewis & Clark College (2023 cohort)

Working with a cohort of like-minded professionals who ask thoughtful questions, engage in meaningful debate, share their tools, and offer their insights has been the most helpful professional development activity I have participated in, in 15 years, and I’ve been doing this for 27! I highly encourage you to apply for this program, your project will improve, your professional network will expand, and you will be reminded of the joy that comes from making an impact and connecting!

Katy Lowe Schneider, Hanover College (2022 cohort)

The Student Success Champions program gives you dedicated time and positive accountability to pick something you’re really passionate about and make it happen. It’s an opportunity to break out of the daily grind and work on something exciting and proactive! While each Student Success Champion does focus on a specific project or program, it is ultimately a professional development opportunity for the champions themselves. If your project needs to change, change it! If your project needs to be scrapped completely and rethought, lean on your Student Success Champion colleagues and do it! The HEDS staff are invested in you, your development, and your students far more so than the project on your application.

Lainie Sowell, Linfield University (2022 cohort)

The HEDS Student Success Champions program has been helpful in providing space to think about my project, colleagues who share great ideas and excitement for making positive change, and both inspiration and accountability for continuing to make strides in what I set out to accomplish. One of the best parts of this program is getting to know people with a variety of roles. Although the time commitment might seem large, the time is so well spent. I come away from each meeting feeling reinvigorated and ready to take the next step in my work.

Lauren Feiler, St. Olaf College (2022 cohort)

The Student Success Champions was a very worthwhile program. Not only have I been connected to a new network of colleagues, but it’s been a great resource for feedback and assessment skill elevation for my project. I appreciate the enthusiasm, the atmosphere, and the reminder of why retention and student engagement are fundamental to our work in higher education.

Timeka Rashid, Baldwin Wallace University (2022 cohort)

Once applications open, you will be able to download the program description and application by clicking on the red button above.

The application process will consist of answering questions about your interest in the program and the project you’d like to work on and providing a letter of support from an administrator at your institution.

The deadline to apply for the 2025 cohort of Student Success Champions will be September 20, 2024. We open applications for a new cohort every year in July.

If you have questions about the program please email Charlie Blaich and Kathy Wise.

Important Dates

July 1, 2024 – Call for applications for 2025 Cohort opens

July 16-19, 2024 – 2023 and 2024 Cohorts meeting at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN

September 20, 2024 – 2025 Cohort application deadline

October 2024 – 2023 and 2024 Cohorts virtual update meetings – hour-long, individually scheduled small groups

November 15, 2024 – HEDS announces 2025 Student Success Champions

January 8-11, 2025 – 2024 and 2025 Cohorts meeting at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN

April and/or May 2025 – 2024 and 2025 Cohorts virtual update meetings – hour-long, individually scheduled small groups

July 2025 (TBD) – 2024 and 2025 Cohorts meeting at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN

October 2025 – 2024 and 2025 Cohorts virtual update meetings – hour-long, individually scheduled small groups