It is an amazingly potentiating thing to have someone believe in you. Either because you have a genuine capacity or because their attitude to you is itself a prompt to acquire such a capacity; whether they are right to do so because they recognize a genuine capacity in you to succeed, or whether their attitude is itself the prompt to acquire such a capacity, is neither here nor there. It has the right outcome either way.
–A.C. Grayling, The Challenge of Things
Every individual, faculty or staff, creates these potentiating experiences in our learning ecosystem. We would not be here but for our students, who believe that the education we offer can change their lives for the better. Ensuring that our students succeed is a non-negotiable component of our mission. My newsletters this semester will focus on student success initiatives that, with your support, are being discussed and implemented as we speak.
Over the last two years, with input from our advisors and undergraduate deans, we have implemented changes to Summer Welcome (henceforth Mizzou Welcome), reorganized the Office of Undergraduate Studies (UGS) in keeping with the recommendations of five external reviews, undertook a review of advisor roles that resulted in enhanced technology support for advisors and increased compensation, and made substantive changes to the Honors College, which included the appointment of Dean Rymph.
In September 2022 we hosted a Student Success Retreat that brought together faculty, staff, and administrators from all colleges. The topics proposed for actions coming out of this retreat can be accessed under Student Success on our Initiatives webpage. Working with Faculty Council, we are organizing subcommittees to address each of these crucial areas. These subcommittees, which will include faculty and staff, will be led by a steering committee comprised of chairs of each subcommittee.
At the deans’ retreat last week, our deans spent a day discussing this topic and the changes we need to make to improve student success. The retreat featured Dr. Tim Renick, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State University (GSU). His talk was inspiring to say the least. He spoke of data-informed changes that GSU made to improve yield, retention and graduation rates. The title of his talk, Are we the Problem – highlighted well-intentioned practices that universities adopt but that wind up hurting students. Our teams are working to change such practices at Mizzou that may hinder students’ progress.
Our goals for student success (by FY2025) for undergraduate students are:
- Increase first year retention rate to 95% (currently at 88.6%)
- Increase 6-year graduation rate to 82% (currently at 75.3%)
- Increase 6-year Pell graduation rate to 71% (currently at 63.3%)
Throughout the spring semester, I will update you on the work being done by the different subcommittees. I always welcome your input on ways to improve student success.
Latha Ramchand, PhD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs