2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference

June 15 – June 17, 2017
Washington, D.C.

The 2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference will focus on how student affairs practitioners can develop effective approaches to support students who struggle to complete their degree.

This year, the 2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference will be co-located with the 2017 Symposium on Collegiate Financial Well-Being. As a registered participant for this conference, you will receive access to attend sessions for both programs.

Register Online


The 2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference will focus on how student affairs practitioners can develop effective approaches to support students who struggle to complete their degree. Further, the conference programs will elaborate on how to address factors woven into students’ experiences which may impact their success and completion, such as being a member of an underrepresented student population; being low income; first generation; living with a disability; DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status; experiencing homelessness or food insecurity; or work and family obligations.

Attend this conference to:

  • Expand knowledge about students who struggle to complete their degree and initiatives that seek to engage/re-engage students in their own persistence and retention;
  • Understand the various support systems and relationships required for persistence, retention, and degree completion of traditionally disenfranchised student populations;
  • Learn about economic barriers for low income students;
  • Recognize the role of technology in serving these student populations; and
  • Recognize mental and emotional stressors that may impede students from degree completion.


Presented By


This event is most likely to influence these groups.

  • Mid-Level
  • Senior Level
  • AVP or “Number Two”
  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • New Professional
  • Graduate


Let others know you are coming!

Use this hashtag to see what others are sharing #CTAG17

Call for Programs

At this time, our Call for Programs is now closed. Thank you for your submissions to the 2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference.

The Conference content advisory committee seeks proposals that effectively advance the understanding of closing the achievement gap for underrepresented and historically disenfranchised students. Presenters will be asked to identify the content level of their session; foundational, intermediate, or advanced. Additionally, the content advisory committee will select programs based upon their relationship to the Conference's learning outcomes.

For detailed instructions on how to sign-up, take a look at document for an example.

Conference Themes & Suggested Topics

  • Expand knowledge about students who struggle to complete their degree and initiatives that seek to engage/re-engage students in their own persistence and retention:

    • How do student affairs professionals create and sustain cross-campus student success initiatives that are culturally relevant to students? What support models offer compelling results for acclimating students to college life (peer mentorship, etc.)
    • What are effective retention methods programs and technologies that have been implemented to retain students who the institution identifies as students of promise from departing the institution? How is the success of these programs and technologies being measured?
    • What initiatives exits or are being created to ascertain why students stop persisting or drop out? What interventions exist or are being created to effectively address those causes? How are institutions assisting student of promise in re-engaging with the campus if they have had to drop out?
    • How are parents or other caring adults engaged in the student retention and persistence process?

  • Understand the various support systems and relationships required for persistence, retention, and degree completion of traditionally disenfranchised student populations:

    • What pre-college and transition programs are most effective in preparing students for success in college? What relationships with postsecondary institutions are necessary to facilitate degree attainment? How is success in these programs measured?
    • With research suggesting most first generation student attend institutions within 100 miles of home, what approaches can institutions take to recruit local students? What tactics are institutions using to engage and support the families of students?
    • What training and supporting measures can colleges and universities use to best work with undocumented students, DREAMers, and DACA stats students?
    • How do colleges and universities eliminate barrier for non-traditional students including students who wish to re-enroll after separation, transfer students or veterans to a higher education environment?
    • How do colleges and universities facilitate opportunities for equitable access and resources for students with disabilities?
    • What support models are effective at retention and persistence of first generation, men of color and other underserved student populations?

  • Learn about economic barriers for low income students:

    • How do student affairs professionals, particularly those in enrollment management, train staff and support students in understanding the financial responsibility of college (cost of attendance, financial responsibility post-graduation, and financial crises)?
    • How do student affairs professional help student stay engaged while working part-or full-time to meet their financial basic needs?
    • How are student affairs professionals and institutions assisting students who are experiencing economic crisis?
    • What tactics are career counselors and academic advisors using to support students' post-graduation success? (Efforts to support job attainment etc.) How do such efforts differ for students who are at-risk of not completing college?

  • Recognize the role of technology in serving these student populations:

    • How can the development of online engagement and support strategies be applied to the retention and persistence of students of promise?
    • What are "high-tech, high-touch" intervention measures that can create an efficient approach to increase student achievement?
    • How are technologies utilized to measure engagement, learning outcomes, program assessment, and student persistence? How can this data be leveraged to support future initiatives?
    • How do student affairs and academic affairs engage with information technology to coordinate technologies and resources?

  • Recognize mental and emotional stressors that may impede students from degree completion:

    • What health and wellness efforts do campuses offer to help any student wit personal care (such as getting adequate sleep, managing stress levels, and healthy eating)?
    • What are the best practices student affairs practitioners are implementing for partnerships with faculty and/or academic affairs to support the mental health needs of students or promise?
    • What programs and resources do campuses offer to specifically meet the mental health and wellness needs of students of color, queer students, foster youth, non-majority religious students, native students, low socioeconomic status students and students with disabilities?

Looking for tips on writing an effective NASPA proposal? See sample submissions and formatting tips in our Program Submission Guidelines.

Submission Timeline
  • January 17, 2017
    Call for Program Reviewers Opens
  • March 24, 2017
    Extended Call for Programs Closes
  • April 12, 2017
    Program Status Notification
  • April 19, 2017
    Program Acceptances Due

Writing Tips

Looking for tips on writing an effective NASPA proposal? See sample submissions and formatting tips in our Program Submission Guidelines.


Please contact NASPA if you have any further questions about submitting a program proposal for the 2017 NASPA Closing the Achievement Gap: Student Success in Higher Education Conference.

Robert Valderrama
Assistant Director of Educational Programs
Phone: 202-265-7500 ext 1177
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


The schedule was designed to provide participants with interactive and engaging programming, opportunities for deeper discussion, and networking. You can view and download the mobile app for this event here.

In the button below, you can find the PDF version of the program book.

Full Schedule

Thu, Jun 15

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Registration Open
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Pre-Conference Workshops
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Welcome and Opening Keynote
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions I
Conversation and Book Signing with Buffy Smith
Closing the Community College Achievement Gap through a Dual to Degree Pipeline
Completing the Mission: A Veteran's Pathway to Degree Attainment
Creating Connections to Close the Achievement Gap
How to Tape an Elbow: Retention of Marginalized Students Through Conquering Imposter Syndrome
Rural Black Lives Matter
"Training Day": Finding Success in Peer Mentoring by Adopting a Values-centered Leadership Approach
Center for First-Generation Student Success Informational Session
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions II
Documenting Your Undocumented Students Environment
Educating for Equity: “Re-mediated” Support Classes at the University of Washington
Effective Strategies for Student Success: A deep dive into NASPA’s Research Agenda
Enhancing Belongingness and Academic Outcomes through a Social-Psychological Intervention
eOrientation as a Driver of "Flipped" Advising and Student Success
Increasing Student Success Through Intentional Partnerships
It Takes a Village: One University’s Strengths-based Approach to First-generation Student Retention and Engagement
SCIE Ambassador Program: Supporting Underrepresented Students in Cultivating Inclusion
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Opening Reception (Light Fare Provided)

Fri, Jun 16

7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Registration Open
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Continental Breakfast (Provided)
8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Morning Panel
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
“Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”: Digital Space Interventions for First-generation Doctoral Students
Closing the Persistence Gap on Campus
Fostering Success in Former Foster/Independent Students
How One Institution Used Existing Institutional Data to Increase Retention by 5% in One Year
Leveraging Social Capital to Support Access and Completion of Underserved Populations
Stories from the Margins: Race Relations and Campus Climate
Student Inclusion on College Campuses: Eliminating the Barriers for Students with Disabilities
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch (On Your Own)
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions III
ACES: An Innovative & Collaborative Partnership to Improve Student Success Rates
Breaking Bread and Building Bridges to Close the Integration Gap
Coaching with Corazón: Supporting Underrepresented Students Through Academic Coaching
Contributors and Barriers to Mental Health for Students of Color: Efforts to Maximize Graduation Rates
I'm First: Creating a Pathway to Thriving
Supporting Student Mothers on Campus
Using Self-Determination Theory as a Guide to Improve Retention: A Case Study
Virtual Resources for Support and Planning through the Higher Education Experience
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions IV
Gateways to Success: Effective Approaches for Supporting Black Doctoral Students in Professional Programs at HBCUs
Project 85: One Institution’s Recent Practical Retention Research and Practices
The 5 Key Player Model: Utilizing Multi-institutional Partnerships for Wrap-around Support
The Brotherhood: A Mentor Program Increasing Achievement Outcomes for Men of Color
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
VPSA & SSAO Reception - By Invitation Only
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions V/ Flash Sessions
Adapting Trauma Informed Practices for Vulnerable Student Populations
Helping Hungry Students: Using Research To Inform Campus Practices Around Food Insecurity
The Impact of Parents and Families on Student Success
#OMACARES: Multiculturalism as Intentional, Inclusive, and a Channel for Student Success
Best Practices of a Supplemental Instruction: What has Worked at Fresno State
High School Transition Through College Graduation: Collaborating Colleges and Universities
Supporting the Well-Being of First-generation Students

Sat, Jun 17

7:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Registration Open
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Continental Breakfast (Provided)
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Closing Keynote
9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Participants' Choice Presentations
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions VI
Blending for Success: Integrating Online and Face-to-Face Tutorial Support for Underrepresented Community College Students
How HIP are your experiences? Predispositions for Participation
Minority Male Mentoring: A Multi-tiered Intervention for Student Success
Walking the Tightrope: Helping Goal-driven Students Balance School, Life, and Expectations
What are your campus’ situational cues telling minority students?

Pre-Conference Programs & Events

Filling the Financial Gap: Building an Emergency Aid Program to Support Degree Completion

Thursday, June 15th • 09.00 AM – 12.00 PM

Research has shown that finances is a one of the primary reasons that students either stop or drop-out of college. Emergency aid is an effective tool that institutions use to retain those students who are faced with an unexpected financial crisis. Resources such as housing or food assistance, emergency loans, and grants can help alleviate the financial strain a student may face on their path to a degree. However, for emergency aid programs to make the most impact, institutions must partake in a highly collaborative, well-coordinated

View More Details


Dr. Amelia Parnell, vice president for research and policy, NASPA

Omari Burnside, director of strategic initiatives, NASPA


In this pre-conference session, participants will learn what it takes to create a robust emergency aid program at their institution. Session facilitators will teach participants the essential components of an emergency aid program, implementation and program management best practices, and key strategies that an institution should employ to avoid potential pitfalls when administering emergency aid.

Additionally, participants will use a diagnostic tool to assess how well-positioned their campus is to administer a comprehensive emergency aid program. The diagnostic will surface critical areas a campus should focus on when building or strengthening their program. Based on the results of the diagnostic tool, participants will discuss and identify potential next steps for their campus.

This session is ideal for professionals that want to create an emergency aid program for their institution and professionals who currently administer emergency aid resources and seek to improve and/or scale efforts.

Creating Inclusive Excellence on Campus: What Institutions Can Do To Close Achievement Gaps

Thursday, June 15th • 09.00 AM – 12.00 PM

An emerging awareness by higher education institutions is to embrace their obligation to create a successful educational environment for all students. This approach flips the script by putting the burden on colleges and universities to think through how students, particularly underrepresented students, navigate the enrollment, student aid, transition to college, classroom, and overall campus experience.

View More Details


Dr. Oscar Felix, associate vice president for diversity, Colorado State University

Trent Ball, associate dean of students & director of retention, academic support centers, Southeast Missouri State University


 This session will delineate strategies, programs, and initiatives that institutions can implement to become a student ready campus through an overarching lens of inclusive excellence.

Supporting First Generation College Students: Strategies for Empowerment and Success

Thursday, June 15th • 09.00 AM – 12.00 PM

First generation college students are less likely to complete their education due to lower levels of academic and social integration. During this session, the presenters will provide a comprehensive overview of first generation students. Additionally, an in depth review of student development theories and presentation of best practices for supporting first generation students will be shared.

View More Details


Rebeca Paz, associate director, k-state first & program coordinator, first scholars, Kansas State University

Martina Martin, program coordinator, first scholars, University of Kentucky

Cristina Castillo, program coordinator, first scholars, Southern Illinois University


This interactive workshop will provide opportunities for each participant to develop an action plan to serve first generation college students for their respective campuses.


Registration as a member is based on individual membership status. If you are employed by a college or university that is a NASPA institutional member, you can join as an individual member at the $75 rate. This gives you the conference registration and a year of membership for less than the non-member registration fee.  If your institution is NOT a member, then you will need to join at the associate affiliate rate of $242 and pay the individual member rate for conference registration. Visit the Membership section of the NASPA website to learn about membership types.

Register Online

Registration Fees

01/17/2017 to 04/17/2017
04/18/2017 to 05/19/2017
after 05/20/2017
NASPA Member
NASPA Student Member
Pre-Conference Workshop


Tonya Murphy
Member Services Coordinator
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: 202-265-7500 ext. 1183

Robert Valderrama
Assistant Director of Educational Programs
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: (202) 719-1177


View Registration Policies

Cancellation:  The cancellation deadline to receive a refund is April 8, 2017, less a $50.00 administrative fee.  No refunds will be given after the deadline for any reason.  All requests for cancellation and refunds must be in writing and sent to refund@naspa.org. This program may be cancelled or postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. In this case, fees will be refunded; however, NASPA will not be responsible for additional costs, charges, or expenses, including cancellation/change charges assessed by airlines, hotels, and/or travel agencies. NASPA is not responsible for weather or travel related problems and will not reimburse registration fees for these issues.

Purchase Orders: NASPA does NOT accept purchase orders as a form of payment. For registrants requiring an invoice to have a check payment processed, please use the Bill Me payment method to complete your registration. The resulting invoice can be found and downloaded under the My NASPA section of the website (must be logged-in), by selecting theView Invoices link from the dropdown menu. Alternatively, email a request to Membership to have a PDF of your invoice sent to you. Bill Me registrations are considered complete and will hold your place in an event, however the balance due must be settled prior to attending.

Click here to view NASPA’s complete Payment Policies and Procedures.

Additional Questions? Please contact the NASPA office at 202-265-7500 or via e-mail to events@naspa.org.


  • Dr. Buffy Smith

    Dr. Buffy Smith

    Professor of Sociology
    University of St. Thomas

    Speaker Bio

  • Dr. Brian Bridges

    Dr. Brian Bridges

    Vice President of Research and Member Engagement
    United Negro College Fund

    Speaker Bio

  • Dr. Simeon Ananou

    Dr. Simeon Ananou

    Vice President for Information Technology Services and CIO
    University at Albany - SUNY

    Speaker Bio

  • Bonita J. Brown, J.D.

    Bonita J. Brown, J.D.

    Director of Higher Education Practices
    The Education Trust

    Speaker Bio

  • Dr. Nicole L. McDonald

    Dr. Nicole L. McDonald

    Strategy Officer
    Lumina Foundation

    Speaker Bio


Thank you to our event sponsors and exhibitors for making this event possible.

You can speak with exhibitors during the following times at the event: 

  • Thursday: 12:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
  • Friday:  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Silver Level
  • MoneySmartsU
  • iGrad
  • CNM Ingenuity, Inc.
  • The EDSA Group
  • Ipsos Public Affairs
  • National Endowment for Financial Education
  • Western Union – Consumer Protection
  • UNC Center for Community Capital


Washington Marriott Wardman Park

Washington Marriott Wardman Park
Washington, DC

All conference activities will take place at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

The NASPA room block at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park has closed.

If you are still in need of a room, the Omni Shoreham Hotel is nearby (0.2 miles). We do not have an overflow block secured at this hotel. 

Hotel Room Rate/Night
Washington Marriott Wardman Park
2660 Woodley Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20008
$219 - Single/Double
$239 - Triple
$259 - Quad

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