Charge of Retention Metrics

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost Academic Affairs

“Why is the person in charge of the retention metric being moved to another position (Dean of COAS) when we have just finished last in the state in the performance metrics?”

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President for the Academic Affairs:

It is important to remember that there is no one person “in charge of the retention metric.” Retention is not the responsibility of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Retention belongs to literally every one of us, and first and foremost to the faculty. It does not matter what programs are put in place to assist students – and as I describe below, there are many – unless the faculty and the students take responsibility for student success, we will never improve our retention rates. We are very hopeful that we will improve our performance on the retention metric, but this will require all faculty to support this effort. For their parts, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Associate Vice President for Enrollment have been working diligently on new or expanded initiatives to promote and facilitate retention:

  • Restructured orientation programming. Orientation is now a more immersive 2-day overnight experience that includes lectures, writing assignments, and placement testing in writing and math, which focuses more on integrating academically into UNF.
  • The revamped orientation is now part of a new Summer Student Success Strategy, which also includes preparatory modules and skills-building classes in math and writing to help the transition to the type of rigor students will see here at UNF. These approaches will take advantage of our terrific Writing Center as well as the new Math Emporium.
  • Implemented a plan for intrusive first year advising in ACE, which includes a minimum of three meetings during the first year with an advisor.
  • Advisors are also contacting all FTIC students with 90+ credits to promote and facilitate graduation.
  • There’s an increased emphasis on communication and interventions with students. As evidence of that increased emphasis, our Student Enrollment Communication Center in Enrollment Services made over 100,000 calls to prospective and current students over the last year regarding admissions, financial aid, orientation, registration, and events and tours. To put that in context, that center didn’t exist until two years ago.
  • Expanded our Supplemental Instruction program from 56 students in Spring 2015 to 942 in Fall 2015, which offers innovative support for gateway courses and results in an average half-letter grade improvement for students who attend. Even more investment is being made in the SI program for 2016-17.
  • Expanded tutoring to add evening hours, more subjects, more locations (including the library and the dorms), and launched online tutoring for select subjects.
  • One Stop is now One Stop in Two Spots: One Stop now is also operating in the library’s Learning Commons, which provides greater reach and better support for students.
  • We are now strongly encouraging students, through advising, marketing, etc., to take 15 credit hours per semester, or 30 per year. Academic merit scholarships are also going to be aligned with a 15-credit hour load. Our own analytics indicate that, even after controlling for academic preparation and numerous other factors, students attempting more hours are more likely to be retained and graduate.
  • Launched the Provost’s House Calls program, in which 89 UNF faculty, staff, and administrators visited freshmen in the dorms midway through fall semester.

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