Authored by Lee Ann Nutt

Authored by Lee Ann Nutt

Complete the Agenda in Higher Education: Challenge Beliefs About Student Success describes compelling reasons why colleges and universities must shift from a “completion-only-mindset” to the Beliefs Agenda (completion plus GRIT). It provides practical implementation methods, offers engaging teaching tactics, and proposes sensible strategies. True student success stories are shared throughout.

Foreword by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, Founder and CEO of Peak Learning and author of GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed

Contributions by Partners in Leadership, a global leader in helping clients achieve the ultimate culture advantage by defining Key Results, shaping Cultural Beliefs, and solving Accountability Gaps.

Dr. Ronald Trowbridge, former Lone Star College Board of Trustees member, contributed student stories. President Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Trowbridge as director of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Information Agency, directing the Fulbright Program. He later because chief of staff to US Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, publishing a book on the chief justice.


Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Change Beliefs to Change Completion
  • Chapter 1: Grit: It’s Sticky
  • Chapter 2: Culture Shifts: From Access to Completion to Beliefs
  • Chapter 3: Teaching with GRIT: Practical Strategies (by Latoya Hardman)
  • Chapter 4: From Excellent to Extraordinary in Three Steps
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A: GRIT Research
  • Appendix B: GRIT Reflection
  • Bibliography
  • About the Authors

Praise for Complete the Agenda in Higher Education


After a decade of the Completion Agenda, most researchers and higher-education leaders agree that student completion has not improved to the desired success level. Lee Ann Nutt advocates that it is time for the next disruptive change in higher education…that college cultures must most from a Completion Agenda to a Beliefs Agenda. At the core of the Beliefs Agenda is the acknowledgment that experiences and beliefs underlie why some students finish despite the obstacles they face and why some students cannot finish anything, including an assignment.”

–Martha M. Ellis, PhD, director of higher education strategy, policy and services, Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin


What a refreshing perspective! Including extensive references from the literature, providing evidence of the initiatives’ success, offering specific guidance for how others can implement in their organizations, and reframing our challenges in hopeful ways with the Beliefs Agenda, this book is a must read for those who care about our students’ and colleagues’ success.

–Dr. Roberta Teahan, director and associate provost, doctorate in community college leadership program, Ferris State University


“Dr. Lee Ann Nutt challenges readers to think beyond institutional goals of completion by also focusing on helping students believe they belong and can succeed in college and in life. College leaders and faculty need to rally around growing and reinforcing student growth, resilience, instinct and tenacity (GRIT). Backed by empirical research, Dr. Nutt does a marvelous job of harnessing the powerful outcomes that can be achieved by focusing on student GRIT. Look out world, a new movement is on the horizon in higher education–the Beliefs Agenda is here!

–James R. McCoy, co-creator and executive producer of Emmy-nominated, No Greater Odds


“…meeting our students where they are and strategically assisting them in the process of improving their academic and life skills is both a science and an art. Odessa College’s practices behind the Drop Rate Improvement Program, a pivot to eight-week courses, and supplying student success coaches for all students align with the concepts outlined in this text. By shifting our culture to focusing on our students’ successful outcomes, our student have been able to make significant academic improvements.”

–Gregory D. Williams, president, Odessa College, Aspen Prize Top 10 Community College Excellence


Dr. Lee Ann Nutt is a true leader in the design and implementation of a successful GRIT program for college students. Working collaboratively with faculty and administrators, LSC-Tomball has infused GRIT training and learning up, down, and across the curriculum with measurable results. I’ve personally witnessed Dr. Nutt’s vision come to fruition over only a few years-which is lightning speed for large scale institutional change in academia! The practical recommendations, rooted in her own personal experience, make this a timely and useful read for anyone interested in improving student success and outcomes. With all the current research centered on the future of skills, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

– Leah Jewel, managing director, career development & employability, Pearson



Complete the Agenda in Higher Education: Challenge Beliefs About Student Success offers an emboldened paradigm for college completion, offering timely guidance for higher education administrators, scholars, and policy makers interested in helping students to achieve their full potential, by completing what they started and getting their degree. It is a treatise that is as much strategic guidance, as it is a heartfelt call to action. President Nutt challenges the community college community to adopt a student success mindset that defines students as important partners that should be empowered to consider their “why” and develop “beliefs that lead to actions that ensure successful results—before, during, and after college.” In a world of much noise, Complete the Agenda in Higher Education offers a beacon, a signal for us to follow as we work to strengthen our economy, prepare a new generation of leaders, and amplify the work of our institutions. It is an important read for anyone interested in leadership, organizational transformation, and empowering students to become more gritty, self-aware, and resilient as they work to achieve their dreams.

–Dr. Damon A. Williams,
 Chief Catalyst Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership & Social Innovation and Senior Scholar and Innovation Fellow Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison  


Grit vs GRIT: It’s a Matter of Quality, describes the differences between quantities of typical “grit” and high levels of quality GRIT (Growth, Resilience, Instinct and Tenacity) as defined by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz.


Perspectivespublished by the Ferris State University Doctorate in Community College Leadership Program, is a monthly publication that is a compilation of information on a topic relevant to community college leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *