Student Retention WIG (Wildly Important Goal)

Introduction to WIG

It all began when Provost Robertson read a book - The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals - and then invited many of her direct reports to read the book. They and others then met in December 2017 to choose a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) that would be beneficial to the College. The WIG they chose was to increase the first-year first-time-to-college student to second-year student retention rate from 86% to 88% by October 2019. The WIG Team, which has since expanded to include others outside Academic Affairs, meets weekly to discuss their commitments and successes toward achieving the WIG.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals in a nutshell:

  • Focus on the Wildly Important - prioritize above the "whirlwind"
  • Act on Lead Measures - the most high-impact things that will help reach the goal
  • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard - people play differently when they are keeping score
  • Create a Cadence of Accountability - hold regular and frequent short meetings

Student Retention WIG (Wildly Important Goal)

WIG Lead Measures

The following Lead Measures were developed in June 2019 when the WIG Team dedicated a day to brainstorm together at the Humphrey Nature Center in Letchworth State Park:

Academic Support Services

WIG Team members who worked on this lead measure include Sue Chichester, Joe Cope, Celia Easton, Tony Hoppa, and Julie Rao.

  • Administer student worker training by a re-envisioned Center for Academic Excellence to ensure coherence of tutoring programs.
  • Generate a marketing strategy to promote student success resources.
  • Introduce a data-informed pilot for course section waitlist use in registration.
  • Implement revisions to Office of Accessibility Services.
  • Roll out pilot programs and training for new EAB Navigate software.
  • Deliver a First Year Seminar (FYS) pilot for undeclared and Spring transfer students.
  • Introduce peer academic advising train-the-trainer program for representatives from academic clubs.
  • Increase graduation rate of Black and Latinx students.

Curriculum & Classroom

WIG Team members who are worked on this lead measure include Bill Harrison, Rico Johnson, Jessie Lombardo, Stacey Robertson, and Paul Schacht.

  • Create two distinct professional development opportunities for faculty to learn about best practices for helping students gauge classroom success.
  • Determine ten bottleneck (high-demand) courses that prevent students from advancing toward degree completion and increase offerings in these courses.
  • Determine ten classes with high DFW rates (D and F grades and withdrawal) and high enrollment that prevent students from advancing toward degree completion and decrease DFW rates.
  • Track the retention rate of first-year first-time students in the pilot FYS course for undeclared students versus the class as a whole.
  • Increase the overall classroom utilization rate.
  • Create a plan for incorporating career readiness into the curriculum and co-curriculum.
  • Increase the use of OER (Open Educational Resources).
  • Increase transfer friendliness through increased support in areas of need.

Professional Development

WIG Team members who are worked on this lead measure include Sarah Frank, Glenn Geiser-Getz, Kathy McIntyre, Dave Parfitt, and robbie routenberg.

  • Establish baseline knowledge of growth mindset and student-centered approaches to education among the teaching faculty and staff. 
  • Increase the number of opportunities to increase knowledge of growth mindset and student-centered pedagogy for teaching faculty and staff.
  • Increase the number of faculty and staff who participate in an initiative related to student-centered teaching.
  • Increase faculty and staff knowledge of student-centered advising, focusing on fostering a growth mindset culture.
  • Increase the number of opportunities to explore inclusive pedagogy in the classroom. 

Student Health & Well-being

WIG Team members who are worked on this lead measure include Anne Baldwin, Chip Matthews, Roxana Sammons, Laura Swanson, and Keith Walters.

  • Provide students with opportunities to spend time in nature in order to reap its psychological, physical, and behavioral healing benefits (i.e., reduced stress, anxiety, and depression; restored attention). We welcome you to visit our new Wellness in Nature website.
  • Provide students with intentional Fail Forward messaging.
  • Increase campus-wide faculty/staff participation in mental health training (Kognito training and Mental Health First Aid).
  • Implement new Geneseo Points of Support (GPS) program.


  • Retreat #1: December 2017 - Selected the WIG and Lead Measures
  • Retreat #2: May 2018 - Initiated the monthly WIG Update memo (see below)
  • Retreat #3: December 2018 - Honed Lead Measures (see results)
  • Retreat #4: June 2019 - Revisited Lead Measures, adding new and deleting the completed, as appropriate, while ensuring they were SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound), then developed SMART action items and identified responsible leads. 
  • September 2019 - Finalized the WIG Strategic Plan.

Promoting the WIG

Provost Robertson's March 12, 2019 presentation to the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) enhances the WIG Team's initial story.

WIG Update Memos

Student Retention / WIG Updates are emailed regularly to campus constituents to provide them with a list of three things that the Team has done, one thing that the reader can do, and a "My Geneseo Moment" story from an alum or student relating one of their significant experiences at Geneseo.


Keeping a compelling scoreboard ensures that the WIG is at the forefront of the Team's efforts. The physical scoreboard, which hangs in the 206 Erwin Hall conference room where the Team meets, is accompanied by several electronic scoreboards kept by the Team. Attachments on the scoreboard (shown below) are the actions that have been taken or are in process.

Student Retention WIG Scoreboard

Photo Album

The WIG Team conversing at one of its weekly accountability meetings.

WIG Team at Accountability Meeting

The WIG Team posing for the news article.

WIG Team

The WIG Team at the May 2018 retreat.

WIG Team at May 2018 Retreat

The WIG Team at the June 2019 retreat.

WIG Team at June 2019 retreat

WIG Team Members

  • Anne Baldwin, Director of Sponsored Research
  • Melanie Blood, Interim Associate Provost for Assessment and Curriculum
  • Sue Chichester, Chief Information Officer & Director of CIT
  • Joe Cope, Interim Associate Provost for Student Success
  • Celia Easton, Dean of Academic Planning and Advisement
  • Sarah Frank, Director of Residence Life
  • Glenn Geiser-Getz, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
  • Bill Harrison, Lecturer of English (former member)
  • Corey Ha, Interim Milne Library Director
  • Tony Hoppa, former Executive Director of Academic Communications (former member)
  • Enrico Johnson, Assistant Provost for Finance and Facilities
  • Alyssa Kenyon, Student (former member)
  • Rose Linfoot, Interim Director of Alumni Relations
  • Jessie Lombardo, Director of Career Services
  • Chip Matthews, Director of Student Life
  • Kathy McIntyre, Senior Assistant to the Provost
  • Keith Walters, Director of Multi Media
  • David Parfitt, Director of Teaching & Learning Center
  • Chris Popovici, Head Track & Field Coach
  • Julie Rao, Director of Institutional Research
  • Stacey Robertson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • robbie routenberg, Chief Diversity Officer (former member)
  • Roxana Sammons, Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment Management
  • Paul Schacht, Professor of English and Assistant to the Provost for Digital Learning and Scholarship
  • Becca Sisson, Student
  • Laura Swanson, Staff Counselor
  • Megan Syfrett, Principal Administrator of Student Health & Counseling
  • Corey Wilkinson '19, Student Association President (former member)

Brief List of Suggested Readings on Retention

Related Pages