A new study shows the graduation rate at Kansas University ranked among the best of six universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system in 1991.
KU outperformed all but Pittsburg State University in terms of the percentage of students graduating in 1991 after 4, 5, 6 and 8 years of study.
PSU had the best four-year graduation rate, sending 24.9 percent of the first-time freshmen who enrolled there in fall 1987 off in a cap and gown.
The lowest rate after four years was Wichita State University, which graduated 7.8 percent. KU graduated 24.7 percent.
David Shulenburger, acting vice chancellor for academic affairs at KU, said KU's four-year graduation rate fell below PSU's because of the high number of KU students enrolled in five-year academic programs, such as education.
BOB RATZLAFF, vice president of academic affairs at PSU, said the school doesn't do much different than other colleges to help students complete their education rapidly.
"We're all interested in retention and graduation," he said.
Ratzlaff said PSU has an orientation class for at-risk freshmen that involves study skills. All PSU freshmen that don't choose a major are required to take a class that focuses each student's attention on a career path, he said.
According to a regents study, KU had the highest graduation rate in 1991 among students who had been enrolled for five, six and eight years.
Shulenburger said KU's students graduate at a high rate because they are more prepared to tackle the academic challenge of higher education. ACT scores prove that, he said. KU has the highest average ACT score of any regents' university.
"THE ACT scores of our entering freshmen are high. Those scores are a great predictor of graduation success," Shulenburger said.
The analysis of 1991 graduation rates showed:
49.7 percent of KU freshmen who enrolled in 1986 graduated after five years. The worst was WSU, with 21.9 percent.
54.6 percent of KU freshmen who enrolled in 1985 graduated after six years. The worst was WSU, with 30.3 percent.
57.3 percent of KU freshmen who enrolled in 1983 graduated after eight years. The worst was WSU, with 34.4 percent.
Martha Shawver, associate vice president for academic affairs at WSU, said WSU's graduation rate was low because of the high number of part-time students enrolled there. This spring, 52 percent of the student body are part-timers.
"A GOOD NUMBER of people drop out for a time. It's the nature of an urban university, where you have an ebb and flow of students," she said.
Aside from WSU, Fort Hays State University had the lowest graduation rate after four and five years. The four-year rate was 17.1 percent. The five-year figure was 33.3 percent.
Fort Hays State President Ed Hammond said the school's graduation rate was affected by economic conditions in western Kansas.
"Fort Hays State has the the most needy student body. We have more students on federal financial aid, percentagewise, than any other school," he said. "It's 20 percent higher that WSU."