University to advance search for director of retention

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

The application period for a new director of retention is over, and University officials expect to announce the new director before the start of the spring 2012 semester.

The search began earlier this semester after Carmen Garland, executive director of recruitment and retention, retired.

Bonnie Higginson, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the search committee is in the process of reviewing applicants for the position. She said there was a lot of interest for the retention director position.

“We really need to have one or more retention specialists that focus on students who are struggling, provide them with assistance,” Higginson said.

Higginson said a thorough search was conducted throughout the semester and is now closed.

The committee plans to have the new director in place before the start of the spring semester.

Mike Young, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said the process closed right before Thanksgiving and the board of retention will meet in early December to review applicants.

Young said three to five candidates will be reviewed for the position.

“Along with recruitment, retention is one of the most important aspects of what goes on at a college campus,” Young said. “It is one thing to recruit a student, but when you think about enrollment growth is one of the best way to get the growth is by retaining the students that you bring in.”

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

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, is now interim co-chair

Robertson said he wanted the director to begin at the start of the spring semester so they could start helping students right away.

“It is one of the most critical positions to be filled on campus,” Robertson said. “We need to get that person in place so they can begin to work.”

Robertson said this person will be counseling and working with students who are having academic difficulties, following up with students if they are not attending classes or doing well in general.

He said the retention alert program will help develop more follow-up strategies to make sure our students are staying on target for graduation.

The director will also make sure the University has the support program to help students in need with the assistance they need to be successful.

The director of retention will work directly under Robertson on the President’s Commission for Student Retention.

The commission will provide leadership for planning, developing, assessing and improving the University’s 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 University Board of Regents.

“It is a very important position,” Robertson said. “We have been moving slowly because it is critical we make sure we get the right person.”

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