Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Undergraduate student marketing campaign to clear enrollment holds begins

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) began a multi-modal marketing campaign on October 13 to encourage undergraduate students to clear enrollment holds.

An enrollment hold is an administrative action that prevents a student from enrolling in classes or changing enrollment. Enrollment holds may be related to tuition or miscellaneous account balances, advising holds, missing paperwork or documentation, or incomplete orientation modules, to name a few.

With spring enrollment appointments beginning October 31 for undergraduates, SAES has already started an email, text message, digital signage, and newsletter campaign to raise awareness of holds that may impede enrollment and class selection.

On the first day of the campaign, 2,021 undergraduate students received a tailored email informing them they had one or more enrollment holds. The email contained details as to the type of hold and how to access their my.SMU Student Dashboard to clear or address the hold with the appropriate administrative office.

Over the next two weeks, students can expect reminders in the SMU Connected Wednesday newsletter, on various yard signs and digital signage across the Hilltop, via text message, and more.

Please encourage students to address any enrollment holds as soon as possible so they have a clear path to enrollment and graduation. Questions about the campaign can be directed to

Peer Academic Leaders Student Success & Retention

Ask a Mustang: A resource for new and current students

Ask a Mustang is a pop-up Q&A table hosted by the Office of Student Success and Retention, with volunteer support from staff and students. It’s located at popular student spots and serves as an informal platform for students to ask questions about all aspects of student life. Sessions are held at key points during the term, including the beginning of the semester, enrollment periods, and finals preparation.

Our first Ask a Mustang session this fall featured the SMU Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) and took place on September 5th and 6th in the morning hours at Fondren Library, near Starbucks. During this two-day event, we invited students to ask questions to SSR and the PALs, as well as share their SMU experiences.

We had a total of 44 student participants (6 first-year students, 10 sophomores, 8 juniors, 18 seniors, and 2 graduate students), many of whom shared insights on our question board: ‘What do you wish you knew before coming to SMU?’ and ‘What advice would you offer to new students?’ Here are some notes left by students:”

  • “Study hard! You are not alone, reach out if you need help!”
  • “Find out about SMU’s resources, they have everything!”
  • “Don’t miss classes. Prioritize mental health. Have a balance.”
  • A-LEC provides tutoring and (professor) office hours are helpful too!”
  • “Keep your priorities straight and focus on school and make good relationships with professors.”
  • “Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying.”

We’ll have our second Ask a Mustang session during the enrollment period and the final round during the preparation for finals. We look forward to seeing you there!

p.s. Lesson learned – sometimes giving someone something free is not as attractive as asking for help. We attracted 10X students with the question, “Would you be willing to help new students” vs. “Would you like a free cookie? ”

Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Student Success & Retention new digs for 2023-2024

Ivy, Kolin, Shun, and Jeff invite y’all to Pony (on) Up to the 3rd floor of Perkins Administration Building for a trip to “World Changers R Us”. Our “sweet” suite is 301 and ask Jeff or Kolin about the creatures that live in the haunted attic above us.

Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Introducing Shun Colter to the Office of Student Success & Retention!

Student Success & Retention is excited to announce Shun D. Colter as our new Assistant Director!

Shun comes to us most recently from the Texas Workforce Commission where he served for 3 years as a Vocational Counselor, a role where he oversaw a ~50-person caseload and helped clients overcome barriers to success in going to college and securing employment.

Shun has also volunteered as the Counseling Coordinator for Friendship West Baptist Church for the past four years, a role in which he provides mental health education and resources to his local community.

Before these roles, Shun worked as a Rehab Clinician with New Start for two years and a Mental Health Associate for Menninger Psychiatric Clinic, both in Houston.

Shun has a master’s degree in counseling from Prairie View A&M where he also worked for two years. Shun’s bachelor’s degree is in Sociology and Psychology from the U. of North Texas. Shun grew up in Port Huron, Michigan before coming to college in Texas and beginning his career as an actor (IMDB link). Shun was chosen as Houston’s New Actor to Watch for 2013 but even before that, as a 13-year-old, Shun was print modeling for JC Penney, New Yorker Kid, and Macys.

Jeff Doyle shared that “Shun brings a level of professionalism, care, and hard work to our office that only further supplements the already amazing staff we have in Kolin and Ivy. I hope others on campus will reach out to Shun by email ( or phone (768.7055) to welcome him to the Hilltop.

Shun shared, “I hope to make a strong effort to allow students to be seen, heard, and valued by having an open mind through demonstrating kindness, compassion and empathy.”

Shun joins Kolin Goldschmidt, Program Coordinator, Ivy Phillips, Success Counselor, and Jeff Doyle, Director, on the fully staffed department thanks in large part to Assistant Provost, Dr. Dustin Grabsch!


Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention University Testing Center

University Testing Center welcomes Amie DeRegge as Testing Coordinator

As the University Testing Center (UTC) launches its second year of operation this fall, we are excited to welcome Amie DeRegge as our new Testing Coordinator!

Amie brings over 20 years of experience in student academic records management, having served as a Texas charter high school registrar.  Her passion for serving students and her strengths in data management, multi-tasking, and customer service make her a tremendous addition to the UTC team.

“I’m so happy to work in the University Testing Center.  I love the culture and spirit of SMU and look forward to helping our students reach their academic goals for success in life,” Amie said.

Amie’s arrival at the UTC coincides with more new changes coming to the UTC this fall.  In addition to providing testing services to students receiving accommodations from DASS (Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies), the center will expand testing services to student-athletes during their sport’s competition season.  A migration to test scheduling software in the new UTC Portal will provide additional academic testing and credit-by-exam services to SMU students and the local community.

“It’s an exciting time to be at the UTC and be a part of its growth,” Amie said.  “It provides yet another opportunity to become immersed in the life of SMU.”

Amie enjoys spending time outdoors in her spare time, vacationing with family on the beach, being “Minyama” to her grandkids, and having fun with her pets Sparky and Doc.  She and her husband, Andrew, are proud Mustang parents to their daughter, Molly, an incoming freshman and member of SMU Cheer.

The UTC is certified by the National College Testing Association (NCTA) and adheres to professional standards ensuring exam integrity and accessibility for both examiners and examinees.



Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention

Summer Forge has successfully wrapped up its inaugural year

The Summer Forge, an academic support program at SMU, has successfully wrapped up the inaugural year. Summer Forge provided the initial cohort of 20 undergraduate students with financial, academic, and social support to accelerate their path to on-time graduation.   

Students who participated in Summer Forge could select courses during May Term, Summer Term, or August Term, in addition to SMUinTaos that fulfilled a major or Common Curriculum requirement. The initial cohort for Summer Forge attempted over 80 credit hours during the summer terms, with 96% of the attempted coursework completed.  

Summer Forge participants were offered tailored campus resource referrals and coached on strategies to support a successful academic summer term. 83% of the Summer Forge students report using the tutoring services provided in the ALEC, and 17% report receiving support from the Writing Center. 

Here is what some of the students had to say about their time in Summer Forge: 

Summer Forge exceeded my expectations with the ability to aid in summer tuition and provide opportunities to students who are struggling or need a little help. I would highly recommend the program in order to catch up on classes and graduate with your class on time.”-Katie P.  


“It allows the opportunity to raise your GPA without worrying about any finances in the process, as that can be stressful to worry about in itself.” -Morgan L.  


“Summer Forge was a great opportunity for me to take Summer courses and advance my studies. The program is helping me graduate on time and make up time lost.”-Sloan H.  

Summer Forge is a collaboration between the Office of Student Success and Retention, SMU in Four, Office of Financial Aid, and Student Academic Success Programs.  

For more information visit 

Student Success & Retention

Student Success and Retention launches new website, online forms, and expanded initiatives

The Office of Student Success and Retention launched a new website on Friday, July 21. The new website unveiled expanded initiative descriptions and new online forms.

Explore our student success initiatives, empowering all Mustangs to achieve their goals. The initiatives are designed to provide holistic student support and empower students to succeed from their first day through graduation.

Plus, undergraduate students can initiate Withdrawal, Cancelation, and Leave of Absences via a new web form rather than email. This new form streamlines processes, enhances communication with campus partners, and decreases the overall process timeline. Please direct students to this new overview page which includes pre-leave considerations, details on requesting leaves, what to do while on leave, and how to return successfully to the Hilltop.

Finally, SMU employees, parents, and families have a web form to report student retention concerns. Formally known as the Student Intent to Leave Form, the rebranded form is now entitled Retention Alert. 

Retention Alert allows student support personnel to attempt intervention with students at risk. Reporting faculty and staff are encouraged to continue working with the identified student. Student Success and Retention or a partner office representative will try to reach students who would benefit from academic and personal support services. The Retention Alert form will ask you to identify the reason for the alert and your recommendation(s) for follow-up.

Please direct questions, concerns, and feedback to the Office of Student Success and Retention at

First-Generation Initiative Mustang Scholars Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention University Testing Center

Undergraduate Education and Academic Success publishes 2022-2023 annual report

Undergraduate Education and Academic Success is a branch within the Office of the Provost’s Division of Student Academic Engagement and Success which oversees a wide range of academic support and engagement offices and initiatives.

Our 2022 – 2023 offices and initiatives included:

A copy of the annual report is included below and is available for download.

Questions, comments, and feedback can be directed to Dr. Dustin Grabsch (

Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention University Advising Center

Committee on Academic Petitions launched a new webpage and appeal submission form

Effective June 1, the Committee on Academic Petitions (CAP) launched a new webpage and an appeal submission form for undergraduate students.  

Students must submit their appeal using the electronic form and include all supporting documentation. They will instantly receive notification that their appeal has been received. Additionally, students will receive notification from the system as the appeal is reviewed and considered.   

All offices should inform students to submit their appeals via the official appeal submission form. Email submissions will no longer be considered, and students will be redirected to to submit their CAP appeals. 

The Committee on Academic Petitions is a committee with membership appointed by the Provost. It is charged with considering and deciding student academic petitions, as set out in the SMU Statement of Process for Undergraduate Student Academic Petitions.  

Academic Petitions are requests by a student for an exception to an academic policy. Academic policy includes any policy, rule, or regulation that applies to academic matters at SMU. 

Have questions about the CAP appeal process? Visit for more information or email your questions to 

Student Success & Retention

Dr. Jeff Doyle named new director of the Office of Student Success and Retention

Dr. Jeff Doyle, an academic and student affairs professional with expertise in student success, residence life, and student learning, has been named director of student success and retention at SMU. He will begin his duties on July 31, 2023.

“Jeff is a dynamic leader with a demonstrated track record strengthening connections and partnerships across key student support units,” said Dustin Grabsch, SMU assistant provost for undergraduate education and academic success. “With his extensive experience supporting diverse students, including those who are first-generation, low-income, international, athletes, and students with disabilities, among others, I am confident that his leadership will enhance our commitment to student success initiatives on the Hilltop. I eagerly anticipate witnessing his impact on fostering fidelity and facilitating our growth in this crucial area.”

Doyle was selected after a competitive national search. Doyle has over 25 years of experience in higher education, most recently at Baylor University, where he worked in planning and assessment within the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and was dean for student learning and engagement.

He has served on the faculty at several universities where he taught and supervised undergraduate and graduate students, oversaw student organizations, and helped lead campus-wide efforts to improve student persistence and graduation.

Doyle attended the University of Virginia and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and counselor education, with a focus on student affairs. He also holds a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Virginia in education with a focus on organization behavior.

Doyle shared, “I am excited to meet the amazing students, faculty, and staff who make up SMU, and learn more about SMU’s strengths and areas where I can be helpful.”

In his free time, Jeff enjoys road cycling, books, and listening to podcasts.