California State University, Long Beach is strongly committed to providing an educational experience for students that will enable them to achieve their personal and professional goals. An important aspect of that commitment is helping students to overcome barriers to their educational progress that arise from a variety of academic and nonacademic sources. To that end we have created a wide variety of programs that deal with academic advising and preparation; support services such as admissions, financial aid, and housing; and student life and development. All of these programs affect whether or not students are retained in the University from year to year and make timely progress toward graduation.
Indeed, the University has made improvement in the rates of student retention and the proportion of students graduating in a timely way one of its six Strategic Priorities in its Strategic Planning Process. The California State University Accountability Process lists “Persistence and Graduation” as “Performance Area 4” upon which we are required to report progress toward improvement in our annual Accountability Report. Finally, the Vice Presidents’ current Mid Range Plan has as a Mid Range goal for the campus to “Develop a plan for services that are required to retain continuing students and improve time to degree.”
Thus, the University has both the programs and the commitment to improve retention and graduation rates. What follows is a means by which those programs and that commitment can be focused toward achieving our goals.
I. The Principles Underlying our Approach
A. The establishment of quantitative goals for retention and graduation rates must be based upon:1. the mission of this university, the educational goals of our students, and the constraints our students face in pursuing those goals;B. The factors that affect retention and time to degree are complex. Therefore, improving our retention and graduation rates must involve a cooperative effort by Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, and Student Services.
2. a recognition of the fact that overall goals must be accompanied by goals specific to groups who now fall well below our current campus wide levels for retention and graduation rates.
C. Complexity precludes a single approach to the problem and requires a variety of programs designed to meet student needs in areas such as academic advising, involvement in campus life, faculty interaction, personal development, peer relations, etc.
D. As a university, we must encourage innovative approaches to improving retention and graduation rates and be able to integrate them into existing programs.
E. Multi-faceted programs require coordination if they are to retain their focus on the established goals for retention and graduation rates. The need to assess our progress and to be accountable for our efforts makes some form of central direction and coordination necessary.
II. The Retention and Graduation Rate Committee
A. A Retention and Graduation Rate Committee shall be established that reports to the Provost and is co-chaired by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Dean of Students.1. The Committee shall be composed of one representative each from Academic Affairs, Student Services, Administration and Finance, the Associated Students, and the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate.B. The Committee is charged with
2. Committee members shall be appointed for three-year terms by the Vice President of the respective Divisions and the Executive Committee of the Academic Senate. The student member shall be appointed by the Associated Students for a one year term.1. coordinating all University efforts aimed at enhancing retention and graduation rates in order to increase our overall effectiveness by
a. improving communication among the participants in such efforts through the establishment of means for regular consultation with those implementing the programs2. recommending to the Provost the annual retention and graduation rate goals for the University, after consultation with appropriate program and service areas.
b. maintaining a data base of information on retention gathered by this campus.
c. reviewing our programs to identify areas where needs are currently unmet or require significant augmentation
d. assisting programs in developing processes for assessing their effectiveness in improving retention and graduation rates
e. maintaining regular communication with the Enrollment Management Committee
3. reporting annually to the Provost and the Academic Senate on the activities and achievements of our efforts to retain students and improve their timely progress toward graduation.
ENDORSED BY THE ACADEMIC SENATE ON MAY 3, 2001