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More than 200 faculty and staff gathered on Feb. 1 to participate in a day-long conference to advance student success programs and efforts. In its second year of implementation, Auburn’s Elevated Education Exchange welcomed professionals from across campus to engage with Auburn’s Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, Auburn Achieve.

With an emphasis on developing principles for student success, highlights from the conference included a keynote address from Kevin Snyder, best-selling author, professional speaker, multi-TEDx presenter, and numerous seminars and workshops. Exploring concepts of growth mindsets and approaches to adaptability, Snyder offered participants insights into critical principles for success and support structures needed to advance student learning.

Jointly sponsored by the Offices of Academic Insight and Academic Support, the Biggio Center, Career Discovery and Success and University Writing, the daylong conference included various presentations from Auburn faculty representing diverse disciplines, including culinary sciences, speech, language and hearing sciences, engineering and horticulture, among others.

With session topics ranging from virtual reality innovations to online learning for nontraditional students, attendees were offered diverse approaches to curriculum development and implementation in fostering student engagement and success. Among the topics presented, understanding how augmented and virtual reality is already impacting teaching and learning was a focus discussed by Mark Traynor, associate professor and director of culinary sciences.

“My goal is always to inspire faculty to develop creative ways of integrating technology, such as virtual reality, into teaching practices,” Traynor said. “This holds particularly true for subjects that traditionally lack enthusiasm and are perceived as tedious by students, like food safety and sanitation.”

In addition to the sessions, the day featured an alumni panel with recent Auburn graduates discussing the importance of supporting students through intentional advising and included a keynote delivered by Jennifer Bloom, founder of Appreciative Education and professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology at Florida Atlantic University. The day culminated in a demonstration of active learning thanks to Mary Flavin, a student in Auburn’s culinary sciences program, who prepared a sweet and savory dish for the more than 200 attendees.

“I am proud of the planning committee’s hard work to create programming that resonated with attendees from all over campus and allowed us to focus on our QEP,” said Stuart Miller, assistant director of academic data acquisitions and reporting. “Auburn faculty and staff deserve the opportunity to take pause, come together to showcase their achievements and have a time of renewal by hearing that the work that they do matters.”

For more information on Auburn’s QEP or the Elevated Education Exchange, contact Stuart Miller at