University hires retention director

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Student Affairs extended an offer to Jamie Mantooth for the director of recruitment and retention on Jan. 19 after the application process closed the third week of November.

He is set to assume his position in early April.

The search began last semester after Carmen Garland retired from the position. Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs, was interim co-chair on the President’s Commission on Student Retention since Garland retired.

The director of retention works directly under Robertson on that commission.

President Randy Dunn said the University has been challenged in previous years to keep retention numbers strong.

“Generally we’ve been among the highest institutions in the Commonwealth on retention and we still remain such,” Dunn said. “Looking for the opportunity to have some renewed thinking and different approaches to take this on, it’s really going to be just as critical to us as our enrollment push has been over the past few years in keeping our numbers strong and having success in getting students progressing toward degree.”

Mantooth has spent the last 11 years at Auburn University in Alabama, directing various programs, such as Greek life, Student Affairs and parent organizations.

He said he will need to figure out how his role as director fits in in with Murray State and he will need to experience more involvement with the students.

Mantooth said 25 to 30 percent of Murray State students don’t return after their first year at Murray State and he wants to find the reason behind it.

“I know there are a lot of things already in place such as the President’s Commission on Student Retention, the first year leader program, and Great Beginnings to help with retention,” Mantooth said.

Mantooth, said he is excited about the move, will be accompanied by his family.

“I really have a lot to learn about Murray State,” Mantooth said. “I have a lot to learn about the students, culture and how the administration works at Murray State.”

Renae Duncan, associate provost for undergraduate education, co-chaired the commission along with Garland and Mantooth will be joining her in implementing ideas to retain students from last semester.

“On the academic side he will be working with faculty to identify students who are at risk of failing of classes,” Duncan said. “Our purpose is to identify what is working and what’s not working with retention all across campus, with academics, residential colleges and other programs.”

Duncan said freshman students have the largest drop-out rate across the country, which will be a focus she said she hopes to maintain with Mantooth.

“We will have a big emphasis on freshman, but we want to make sure all our students graduate,” Duncan said. “We are doing what can be supported, and once we find out what dollar amount we have, we’ll be able to step back and see where we can go from there.”