I often have the opportunity to talk with alumni groups and faculty members about their experiences as undergraduate students. When asked about factors that influenced their success, many people highlight particular individuals who demonstrated a special interest in them – a faculty member who involved them in scholarship, an advisor who reached out to help at a time of need, a donor whose scholarship made it possible to attend college, a staff member who genuinely cared about their well being, or members of a network from a residence hall or sorority who became “friends for life.”
As a campus, we strive to ensure the success, through graduation, of all of our students. We all have a role in promoting retention and graduation of Utah undergraduates, from those of us who recruit talented students to the U, to those who advise and teach students, to those who engage students in high-impact experiences like study abroad, service learning, or leadership, to those who provide support services throughout the university, to those whose jobs give them the opportunity to be a welcoming presence on campus. With an “all hands on deck” approach, we have formed a Comprehensive Task Force on Enhancing Retention and Graduation Rate, bringing together faculty, staff and student representatives from units across the campus to study our data and develop a set of critical recommendations to increase retention and graduation rate. Associate Vice Presidents Martha Bradley Evans and Mary Parker are leading the Task Force; the charge to the group and members are provided here.
As we focus together on enhancing the success of our students, I hope that you will remember the role that you play in this effort. You may be the one, recalled some years in the future, as a person who contributed positively to the success of our undergraduates, as that person who showed a special commitment to student success. Thank you for all that you do to support positive outcomes for Utah undergraduates. Your efforts make a difference.