University of Arkansas Producing Degree Holders Ahead of Governor's Projections
Number of degrees produced ties to performance funding from stateFriday, August 29, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When 3,906 students graduated during the 2013-14 academic year, the University of Arkansas reached a graduation growth goal set by the state five years early.
Gov. Mike Beebe set growth goals for degree production among colleges and universities in Arkansas, designed to double the number of degrees being awarded during the period from 2010 to 2025. The goals were set at the time of the governor’s 2011 challenge to colleges and universities in Arkansas.
The U of A wasn’t “scheduled” to hit 3,900 degrees until 2019.
“The figure is important in that it ties performance to funding received by the state of Arkansas, and the ability to demonstrate progress toward the goal shows our state lawmakers that annual appropriations allocated to the U of A are a good investment in Arkansas,” said Randy Massanelli, vice chancellor for governmental relations.
Hitting the state’s goal of increasing the total number of degree holders in Arkansas also directly supports the U of A’s institutional goal of improving graduation rates. The 2013 University of Arkansas six-year graduation rate is 60 percent, as reported to the national Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, which is the common data set used by colleges and universities across the country. The university is committed to increasing that percentage.
The University of Arkansas wants to be nationally recognized as a top 50 public research institution, and its graduation rate is a major factor in determining that ranking.
“Improving graduation rates is the right thing to do for the university, for our students and for the state of Arkansas,” said Provost Sharon Gaber. “Rankings are a byproduct of doing the right thing and succeeding. Over the past three years, we’ve implemented a number of programs and interventions aimed at helping students persist and graduate.”
Enhancing academic advising, requiring a freshman transition class on “Destination Graduation,” and working to increase the number of classes with fewer than 20 students by adding additional sections and additional new faculty positions are just a few of the specific steps the U of A has taken to help retain students.
“UASuccess,” a new online appointment scheduling and advising tool for faculty, staff and students, launched in fall 2013. Finally, the first-ever office of retention and graduation will launch this year to serve as an institution-wide catalyst for initiating, implementing and reviewing goals and actions to increase graduation and retention rates.
“This is just the beginning,” Gaber said, “we expect improvements in our graduation rates and will continue to monitor and evaluate our retention and graduation programs for the greater good of the University of Arkansas.”
Laura Jacobs, associate vice chancellor