University Affairs

Retention and Completion Updates Name to Better Reflect Focus on Student Success

By Marcus Jensen |

LOGAN, Utah — The Utah State University Office of Student Retention and Completion has updated its name effective Jan. 1, 2023. The office is now named the Office of Academic Belonging and Learning Excellence (ABLE), to better reflect USU’s focus on student success.

“The name change more accurately places our focus on the students,” said Heidi Kesler, executive director for ABLE. “The goal of this department is to assist students, so they are “ABLE” to reach their academic goals and aspirations. We want every student to know they belong to a community of learning and that they have access to support toward their own learning excellence.”

Although retention and completion will continue to inform the unit’s practices, the bulk of staff and students served by the unit better identified with the emphasis on academic belonging and learning excellence. The objective of ABLE is to empower every student to reach their goal of earning a degree from USU through supporting learning excellence and promoting academic belonging.

The office has experienced significant changes prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, several programs were added to the unit, including Student Support Services, Supplemental Instruction, Academic Success Coaching, Learning Specialists and Aggie First Scholars. These programs now make up the base of services and resources provided through this unit.

“I am so excited about these changes and believe we have the right people in place to provide all students equitable access to services and a consistent standard of care across all campuses and colleges,” Kesler said. “This is truly a systemwide approach to student academic success.”

The unit will be organized into two focus areas, each with multiple programs and services geared toward serving students at all campuses within the USU system. The first area — Academic Belonging — will include Aggie First Scholars, and a new initiative, Aggie Advocates, as well as Returning Notification of Leave & Retention Outreach. The second area — Learning Excellence — will include Academic Success Coaching, Supplemental Instruction and instruction of Habits of Mind courses.

Student Support Services will retain its current structure and serves its cohort of students through both academic belonging and learning excellence. It will therefore intersect both areas.


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Heidi Kesler
Student Retention & Completion


Student Success 263stories

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