. . . the successes of 1,248 students who on Aug. 17 graduated from The University of Akron. The next weekend, we welcomed our New Roos to campus with back-to-back programs designed to integrate them into campus life. The theme was Success Begins Now!
Today, as we begin the new academic year, all of us must be engaged in retaining our students by improving their overall Akron Experience so they will graduate and succeed. This is an historic time for the University--with new programs and services and people, all dedicated to helping each student move along a targeted pathway from semester to semester, accumulating the credits and experiences necessary for timely graduation into a successful career or the pursuit of an advanced degree.
There are several strategies already underway proven to improve retention rates. For example:
We are admitting students who are more prepared for the rigors of freshman year; average ACT scores for first-time full-time bachelor's degree-seeking freshmen improved from 22.4 in 2011 to 23.2 this fall; average high school GPA's improved as well.
Incoming freshmen are more often directly admitted to the college of their chosen major, a proven strategy for student success. The percentage of new students directly admitted to colleges increased from 37 percent last fall to 51 percent this fall.
New ways of advising students, and new living and learning communities to be modeled after successful programs with first generation and underrepresented students; data on our current living and learning communities (fall 2011-fall 2012) demonstrate 84 percent first-year retention and an impressive 3.1 first-year college GPA.
Course schedules offer more opportunities for full-time faculty to be in the classroom, another factor in student success.
Students can get their degree faster, with more online courses and a reduction in the minimum required credit hours for a bachelor's degree (to 120), and for an associate degree (to 60). And we are making it easier for transfer students to get the credits they deserve, awarding associate degrees to those who have accumulated enough credits.
We will soon launch a series of Campus Conversations to answer your questions and elicit your thoughts on how you can contribute to student retention and success. Also, we will roll out a new program in September to give all faculty and staff the tools to help a Zip when they encounter a student with a problem . . .
. . . because Success Begins Now! And we deeply appreciate your continued efforts to ensure that all our students have a successful semester and Akron Experience.
With every good wish,
Luis Proenza, President
William M. "Mike" Sherman, Senior Vice President and Provost/Chief Operating Officer