Designing the Ecosystem for Student Support at Purdue

When it comes to thinking about strategy, we have a deep legacy of linear thinking. It’s not altogether helpful. Take the example of Purdue’s expanding undergraduate population of students. To support these students, Purdue has a wide range of units on campus, including housing, food services and advising. To accommodate the growth of undergraduate students, these separate units need to work together more closely.

If we took a traditional strategic planning approach, we would think of student support services  as part of a “Purdue pipeline”. Students enter the pipeline when they arrive in West Lafayette as freshmen. By the time they graduate, they’ve navigated their way through the pipeline. During the course of this experience, Purdue has added value to each of its graduates.  In this simple linear model, student support services simply reduce the friction inside the pipeline.

What if we took a different approach?   What if we think of student support services as part of a complex ecosystem here at Purdue that delivers powerful learning experiences to students? This reframing opens the door to exploring how student support services can contribute to more powerful learning experiences for students.  Working with the Provost’s office, the Lab has been conducting workshops embracing this new approach.