January 25, 2016 3:45PM
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median weekly earnings of those who attain at least a bachelor’s degree is almost 70 percent higher than those with just a high school diploma, which is why Pittsburg State University is redoubling its efforts to make sure that students who begin the work of earning a degree actually finish.
“It’s a priority,” said Lynette Olson, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We know our students have choices. We want to make certain we’re meeting their academic and co-curricular expectations. Doing so will help improve their collegiate experience and ensure financial stability in these times of limited resources.”
To help with the process, Pittsburg State has partnered with the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (JNGI) to launch a new Retention Performance Management (RPM) process at PSU.
“JNGI has worked with more than 300 institutions throughout the world to improve their retention,” said Steve Erwin, vice president for student life. “It’s a multi-phase process that, in the end, will help our faculty and staff make strategic, data-based decisions to help us keep more of the students we admit.”
PSU is actually starting ahead of many other colleges and universities in the U.S. The 2014 retention rate for first-time freshmen at Pittsburg State was 74.3 percent, which is nearly 10 percent higher than the national average, but that’s still not high enough, PSU officials said.
A special RPM steering committee, co-chaired by Olson and Erwin, is helping move the process forward. The committee is comprised of the steering committee and four domain committees with more than 40 members representing students, faculty and staff. The RPM domain committee chairs are Lynn Murray, Jason Kegler, Randy Roberts, and Eva Sager.
The RPM process will include a survey of all current freshmen and sophomores as well as a review of academic programming.
“We’re going to examine every facet of the university,” said Olson. “We’ll reach out to current students for their input, take a close look at our academic and campus support services and make certain we’re providing our students with the very best experience.”
The analysis phase of the RPM project is expected to be finished by the fall of 2016. The implementation planning will begin shortly thereafter.