Volume 7  Issue # 10
Monday, February 7, 2005

The President's Post

       This past August, during my annual State of the University address, I challenged us to make student retention – and student success – a top priority. I then charged Sherrie Arey with leading a campuswide task force to review our retention efforts and to make recommendations concerning what we can and will do better.
   With guidance from task force co-chairs David Strain and Stacy Key, several retention-related committees met regularly throughout the fall semester to discuss issues and strategies for improving retention. I appreciate the work on this ongoing concern and am pleased to report that we are making significant progress.
   This semester’s enrollment of 576 students represents 92% of the number we had for fall semester. To give you a context, last spring our enrollment was 87% of the fall number. Factoring out the 16 students who graduated in December, enrollment for this spring is excellent and a solid number on which to build for next year. What did we do as a campus community to improve retention? I can identify six major factors that made a difference:
   1. Declared retention to be a campuswide priority and involved all constituencies in seeking solutions;
   2. Created more dialogue among faculty, staff, and students, and that resulted in a shared commitment to improving retention;
   3. Instituted an early intervention process, through Daniel Taddie and the faculty, for evaluating student progress as early as four weeks into the fall semester;
   4. Moved mid-term grading to a week later in the semester, gaining more time to compile accurate assessment information;
   5. Issued mid-term report cards;
   6. Identified student academic and personal needs early enough in the semester to offer effective intervention and assistance.
   Our retention success is a shared success, but it cannot stop after this semester or the next one. It must become systematized campuswide, and all of us must continue to commit ourselves to student achievement and graduation. I thank you for your exemplary efforts toward ensuring the success of our students. I know the students are grateful as well.

Dr. Rick Niece

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