Retention Commission submits plan to President

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Randy Dunn, president of the University, began efforts to improve student retention 18 months ago with a new commission plan.

The President’s Commission on Student Retention submits recommendations to the president of specific actions to maintain students and improve graduation rates.

The Commission will provide leadership for planning, developing, assessing and improving retention efforts across the University in order to meet retention and graduation rate goals established by the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Murray State Board of Regents.

Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, said the plan for retention includes faculty, staff and students.

Jacobs said Commission members are attempting to create a plan to support student needs and execute services to help students achieve graduation. The Commission has submitted an untitled suggested plan to Dunn, but nothing has been implemented yet.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said there are many faculty and staff on campus willing to assist students with their needs.

He said students can always come to Student Affairs where they work to reduce frustration students face.

“It’s an extremely important Commission because retention and graduation is what we are all about,” Robertson said. “We are aggressively increasing our recruitment to enhance our numbers, but it does very little good if the students come and don’t graduate.”

The University’s Fall 2011 enrollment showed a 8.5 percent growth in freshmen and a 10 percent increase in transfer students.

Renae Duncan, associate provost for undergraduate education, and Carmen Garland, executive director for recruitment and retention, were co-chairs for the President’s Commission on Student Retention.

The two looked at academic advising, how to enhance the information flow to advisers or the retention office, marketing and where students go if they need help.

Robertson is interim co-chair until a new member is named into the position left vacant when Garland retired earlier this semester.

Duncan said some of the goals of the retention plan are to promote and sustain the University community on issues of retention and graduation rates and identify the best retention practices.

Duncan said the Commission members, who are awaiting Dunn’s approval on the submitted plan, have a small agenda and are working on making small changes throughout campus.

The President’s Commission on Student Retention is currently focusing on how to improve academic advising.

“The president needs to take a look at all of the various budget requests from all across campus because there are lots of things that need to be funded, including request for retention,” Duncan said.

The Commission members researched what the University has done to help with student retention all across campus.

Duncan said Dunn wanted to improve retention rates even though the University has some of the best in the state.

“We still have students who drop out, and the president wanted to see what we could do to keep that from happening,” Duncan said.

Jeremiah Johnson, Student Government Association president, Chastity Richmond, retention specialist and Bonnie Higginson, Provost and vice president of academic affairs are some of the members on the President’s Commission on Student Retention.

“We as an institution are committed to our students graduating and leaving with their degree,” Robertson said. “This commission is taking a comprehensive look at our support services, how we are doing in our support services.

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