Maximizing Your Student Success Software Investment with Dr. Chelsy Pham


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Technology helps student success professionals better understand their students and more efficiently serve their diverse needs in a rapidly changing higher ed landscape. In this episode, we explore how institutions can maximize their investment in student success solutions to help students achieve their academic goals.

Today’s guest is Dr. Chelsy Pham, Vice President of Information Technology at Hartnell College. She helps us dive into the technical aspects of student success and why data is essential to help provide opportunities. She breaks down the step-by-step process for finding the right student success software and ways to get the entire campus on board. We discuss software vendor must-haves and why it is crucial to find the purpose of the program you need before shopping around. And although IT is the department that gets everything up and running, it’s ultimately the users on the frontline, so Dr. Pham demonstrates the importance of their buy-in.

Show Notes:

  • [2:22] – Dr. Pham sees the challenges in the demands of technology and how students are changing how they use technology.
  • [3:09] – Sometimes students do not have the opportunity to develop technology literacy prior to college.
  • [4:32] – Dr. Pham describes ways to help students gain access to technology.
  • [5:51] – A lot of times, students aren’t able to ask for help. Data in the background shows who may need a nudge.
  • [7:52] – Part of the solution is to have staff available to help students, but another part is having tools in place that allow you to see who needs support.
  • [9:00] – When looking at what tools to introduce, Dr. Pham asks what difference is this going to make and to whom?
  • [9:57] – Look at the purpose before looking at the tool. Once you have your purpose, think about your “wishlist”.
  • [11:06] – Sometimes we want a really slick program and thinking about ways it would work for you, look for tools that match your existing purpose.
  • [12:24] – From Dr. Pham’s perspective, a major consideration is the amount of IT support and maintenance that would be needed.
  • [13:41] – The most important quality of a product is the amount of support provided by the vendor.
  • [15:14] – If you don’t have campus adoption, you don’t have a product at all. It’s crucial to get buy-in ahead of time.
  • [17:40] – You also want a probation period ahead of time and see how vendors respond to colleagues.
  • [19:14] – Credibility is also something to consider.
  • [20:57] – Once a product is set up and a team has come together to work on it, the team becomes close and communicative. Open communication is important.
  • [22:17] – If something isn’t working out, open communication, close the loop and deal with it.
  • [23:39] – Sometimes, you need to go back to a wishlist and see if the product needs to be maintained or retired.
  • [25:04] – In IT, services are implemented, but it is really the users that are on the frontline with students.
  • [27:06] – Don’t make it your idea. The product isn’t for IT. It’s for helping students succeed.

Links and Resources:

Dr. Chelsy Pham, Vice President of Information Technology at Hartnell College

With a 20-year career aligning business and IT operations, Dr. Pham has been a leader in driving organizational digital business strategies. She has developed a record for creating synergies across the company to enable cost-effective and innovative shared solutions to achieve business goals. As a transparent, energetic leader, she is dedicated to boosting team performance and morale through collaborative strategic initiatives. She is passionate about executing the company's vision and roadmap to achieve current and future company goals and objectives while providing the best technology.

Over the last three years as the Director of ITS, Dr. Pham has provided innovative leadership and supervision for San Joaquin Delta College's information technology and support services. In 2016, she co-founded OneVision Solutions, a management consultancy specializing in growth for the private optometric industry. From 2016 to 2018, she served as Director of Finance, Business, and Technology Development for Eye Designs & Visions Optometry.

Katy Oliveira, Host & Producer, Next Practices Podcast

Katy oversees content at Civitas Learning, where she showcases customer experience and practices to improve student success and reach institutional goals with the Civitas Learning Student Impact Platform. In her 15-year higher education career, Katy gained extensive experience in student success as an academic advising, advising leader, and faculty member. She is also the creator and host of the Apple Podcast featured show, Collegehood Advice.

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