Jim Dragna

Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success

California State University, Sacramento

Currently working on

at California State University, Sacramento

Jim Dragna

Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success

California State University, Sacramento

Dr. Jim Dragna currently serves as Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success at Sacramento State. As the “Graduation Czar” at Sacramento State over the last two years, Dr. Dragna is responsible for coordinating graduation programming in line with the California State University ‘s Graduation 2025 Initiative. Under his supervision, the “Finish in Four” campaign at Sacramento State has demonstrated an overwhelming first year student response in pledges to Finish in Four. In 2012, approximately 20% of first year Sacramento State students enrolled in fifteen credit hours during their first semester. In 2017, 64% of first year students enrolled in fifteen or more credit units and more than 80% of first year students pledged to take 30 credit hours in their first year. As average unit loads increased, the University also increased the number of available courses to create sustainable guided pathways for on-time graduation.

In 2012-2016, Dr. Dragna served as Director of Student Success at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand where he gained international experience in overseeing student services professionals dedicated to furthering successful learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom. Over a four-year period, Dr. Dragna initiated and innovated programs and processes that contributed to significant increases in student retention and progression to graduate rates while improving the measured quality of the student experience. His work included the fostering of high school transitional programs, integrated curricular and co-curricular content development, and residential/non-residential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. He guided the utilization of analytics in identifying and promoting targeted success variables.

Dr. Dragna carries with him over twenty-two years in higher education administration and management. His professional career includes progressive responsibilities in Student Affairs and Services at North Dakota State University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and University of South Florida. In addition to his Student Affairs administrative background, Dr. Dragna has taught undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students in Psychology and Psychodynamic Theory. He has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor in North Dakota and North Carolina and is currently a Licensed Psychologist in Minnesota. His area of professional interest centers on the integration of adolescent and young adult affective and cognitive development.

Dr. Dragna holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and graduate degrees in Counseling Education from the University of Colorado. Jim Dragna is known for his collaborative working style with students, families, faculty, staff, and community members in combining vision with informed decision–making while advancing success for individual students and diverse student groups.

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15 to Finish

Boost the number of students who are on track for on-time graduation by encouraging enrollment in 15 credits each semester (30 credits per year, including summers). Financial aid dollars, as well as institutional process and practice, should support that standard.

Math Pathways

Ensure all students enroll in and complete gateway math in their first year by designing math courses that are aligned with the skills students need for their chosen program of study.

Corequisite Support

Increase gateway course completion within the first year by enrolling entering students into the college-level math and English courses, providing those who need additional help a concurrent course or lab that offers just-in-time academic support.

Momentum Year

Build momentum so students meet first-year benchmarks: informed choice of meta major or major, enrollment in 30 credits with nine in the program of study and completion of gateway courses. Provide early support and guidance for decision making, using interest assessments and labor-market data.

Academic Maps with Proactive Advising

Default students onto highly-structured academic maps that include 15 credits per semester (or 30 per year), indicate milestone and pre-requisite courses, and empower advisors to effectively monitor progress and provide intervention as needed.

A Better Deal for Returning Adults

Increase degree attainment by inviting adult learners back to complete their education, providing a redesigned system that offers accelerated courses, year-round enrollment and predictable schedules. Give credit for prior learning and experience and additional support to help students navigate the system.

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