ACROSS THE COMMONS > Spring 2011 issue

Student Success is Our Success: Graduation is Job 1


With a sharper focus on the factors that influence retention and graduation rates, the Office of Academic Affairs intends to have the scene above play out more frequently in the years ahead.

Recognizing student excellence

Many groups exemplify the degree of student excellence that we seek to empower, but perhaps none so ideally in recent times as the national champion men's soccer team.

Beyond being outstanding athletes and stellar ambassadors of the University, the individuals on the team are exceptional students as well.

The Office of Academic Affairs extends its congratulations to members of the team, the coaching staff and the administration in Athletics. Well done!

One aspect of the New Gold Standard is the conviction that our success as a university will be measured by the value we add to students’ lives. Retention and graduation are a large part of this, but the opportunities to add value extend across a continuum that begins the moment a potential student first considers attending college and extends decades after earning a certificate or degree.

Accordingly, the Office of Academic Affairs is being reorganized to focus on student success, with the greatest attention on the academic and Student Affairs factors that increase retention and graduation rates. Here are some of the changes being considered:

  • Changes to orientation. Full-time, first-year students will be required to complete New Student Orientation by late July, giving the University an earlier picture of exactly what course sections will be needed for fall. With more time to plan, colleges will have more time to schedule faculty to teach the necessary courses.
  • Continued emphasis on student engagement. Our student-to-advisor ratio was inconsistent with national norms; consequently, advising capacity was increased by 12 positions campus-wide.  The University also will increase student-faculty contact by increasing the number of full-time faculty members in the classroom.
  • More learning communities. We are increasing the number and quality of thematic learning communities and expanding living-learning communities in the residence halls to provide students more opportunities to interact.
  • More collaboration across campus. Through improved communication, more students will become aware of the test-taking and study-tips seminars held by the Counseling Center, the internship and campus job opportunities available through the Career Center and the other services available across campus.  Colleges will become more involved in these efforts to support student academic success.
  • More focus on the sophomore year and beyond. UA offers many programs to help get first-year students on track and stay on track. Many of these programs drop off in Year 2, and it may be necessary to extend some of them further into students’ academic careers. The impact of this will be examined and modified as deemed necessary.


     Work groups seek pragmatic, timely solutions