ASU Accelerator: PennWest Innovation Team

What is the PennWest Innovation Team? 

The PennWest Innovation Team, also known as the ASU Accelerator, is comprised of a small group of professionals located in the Division of Enrollment Management, Student Services, and Global Innovation who represented PennWest in the PASSHE Redesign Accelerator program through Arizona State University’s University Design Insitute (UDI) from January to August 2022.  

The Accelerator was an 8-month, immersive design experience to advance high impact student outcomes in U.S. public universities. Blending synchronous and asynchronous experiences centered around a design core, the Accelerator drove ideation and implementation planning for innovative, student focused solutions.  

Teams from participating PASSHE universities (e.g., PennWest, Shippensburg, Millersville, and Slippery Rock) engaged in design sessions to develop ideas, learn from each other and prepare for implementation with team coaching support.  

Each team was charged to develop a pilot program to advance students’ success at their institution. The final step in the process (see image below) was to pitch the pilot program to the PASSHE chancellor/team and UDI leadership. PennWest’s pilot was approved and granted $60,000 to implement their idea.  

What is the project/focus? 

The focus is on helping PennWest create a student-centric culture. One that supports innovative thinking and evidence-based teaching practices, challenges the status quo, maximizes limited resources, leverages existing expertise, and places students at the core of all decision-making. But, to get there we must first understand what it means to be student centered.

Throughout the Accelerator the team studied student centeredness concerns and identified that student centeredness is a commonly (over)used and multi-defined term. Therefore, if PennWest strives to be a student-centered university, we must understand and define what it means to our students, staff, faculty, and administrators.  

From January 2023 through May 2023 the team will seek to define student centeredness at PennWest by collecting stakeholder feedback through surveying and focus groups.  

  1. Student data will be gathered through in-person and virtual peer led focus groups. 
  1. Staff, faculty, and administration data will be gathered through surveys and virtual focus groups coordinated by VisionPoint Marketing.

What is the timeline? 

Click each step below for more details.

Student focus group training: In collaboration with the Title III grant, led by Dr. Brenda Fredette and Mel Dean, nearly 30 PennWest faculty and staff participated in a training led by Virginia Tech’s Kim Flier, simulating and teaching participants how to train students to conduct focus groups. 

  • Identify and train student focus group leaders using the skills learned from the December training 
  • Collect data from student and staff/faculty/administration stakeholders 

Synthesize data and generate a report and recommendation for PennWest leadership on what student centeredness means to PennWest and how it can be utilized 

The PennWest Innovation team hopes to continue their work by creating and coordinating regular student, staff, faculty, alumni, and employer feedback loops. Feedback loops would provide stakeholders with an opportunity to have their voice heard and share concerns or ideas to improve the student experience. Data would be used to ensure PennWest is fulfilling our stated promise and fuel innovations and initiatives towards a more student-centered university. 

Questions for the team?  

Please contact the Project Manager, Dr. Josh Domitrovich at jdomitrovich@pennwest.edu

Team members include:  

  • David Dollins, Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management  
  • Dr. Josh Domitrovich, Executive Director, Center for Career and Professional Development  
  • Dr. Philomena Gill, Executive Director, Academic and Student Success  
  • Jill Loop, Executive Director, Student Outreach and Success  
By Dr. Josh Domitrovich
Dr. Josh Domitrovich Executive Director of The Center for Career and Professional Development