Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

KU describes ideal freshman class

Report outlines student success goals for 2016

June 17, 2004


The ideal Kansas University freshman class of 2016 would include more minorities, have a higher ACT score and include a lower percentage of Kansas students.

That's according to a committee charged with determining a long-term strategy for recruiting students to KU.

"It's easy to look at this and say we're decreasing the number of Kansas students," said Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success. "You may think I'm a politician, but I look at it as increasing the number of out-of-state students. We are still the University of Kansas and our primary audience will always be Kansans."

The report was one of 11 presented Wednesday during a town hall meeting to discuss priorities and goals for KU's division of student services. Reports laid out goals for areas including graduation rates, student health and the dissemination of information to students.

The reports were the result of a semesterlong process involving 200 KU administrators, faculty and staff.

The committee investigating recruitment strategies said it hoped to keep freshman class levels around 4,080, or roughly the same as current levels. At the same time, the university should increase average freshman ACT scores from the current level of 24.1 to 26 by 2016.

"What we're trying to do is enhance the profile of the student body," said Lisa Pinamonti, director of admissions and scholarships.

Diversity goals

That also involves increasing the diversity of campus. The committee set a goal of having 14 percent of incoming freshmen and 16 percent of transfer students be from minority groups.

In the fall 2003 semester, 12.6 percent of freshmen and 14 percent of transfer students were minorities.

The number is the first diversity goal publicly announced by KU since Chancellor Robert Hemenway arrived in 1995. At the time, Hemenway said he wanted 10 percent of the freshman class to be minorities by fall 1996, up from the then-current level of 9.7 percent. KU didn't reach Hemenway's goal until fall 2002.

Another form of diversity, Roney said, is the hometown of students. That's why KU is looking to scale back its percentage of Kansas residents slightly from 68 percent to 65 percent by 2016.

"These students tend to bring different kinds of experiences," Roney said.

KU is looking to enlist alumni to help with the recruitment of out-of-state students.

Higher retention

Another key focus from the student success division will be improving student retention rates. Provost David Shulenburger has endorsed goals of increasing the freshman-sophomore retention rate from 82 percent to 85 percent, and increasing the six-year graduation rate from 57 percent to 65 percent.

Mary Ann Rasnak, director of the student development center, said the plan for meeting those goals would include increasing support for students in entry-level mathematics classes, creating an "early alert" system for students who are in academic trouble and increasing participation in thematic learning communities, in which freshmen take three courses with the same group of students.

"We expect students to be successful," Rasnak said. "The university expects them to be successful, and we will help them do that."

Roney said she expected to take the information gathered from the town hall meetings and create a report that includes implementation and strategies for financing the student success plan. That report should be complete by Aug. 1.

Generally, changes in departments and goals will be based on making services more accessible for students, she said.

"What you have is a new approach to dealing with student services at the University of Kansas," she said.

Eleven committees investigating priorities and goals for the division of student success at Kansas University presented their findings during a town hall meeting Wednesday.Another meeting is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. today in the Courtside Room of the Burge Union.A full list of the recommendations appears at of the committee reports included:¢ Increasing the number of students graduating in four years.¢ Increasing the number of freshman minority students from 12.6 percent to 14 percent by 2016. Also, increasing the percentage of out-of-state students from 32 percent to 35 percent, and increasing the average freshman ACT score from 24.1 to 26.¢ Improving recruitment efforts at community colleges.¢ Creating a permanent committee to examine the status of KU's minority population, including an online survey to gauge the culture for minority students. Also, increasing financial packages for minority students.¢ Increasing retention rates for freshmen from 82 percent to 85 percent, and increasing six-year graduation rates from 57 percent to 65 percent.¢ Increasing participation in thematic learning communities to 2,000 students by 2008.¢ Creating a "one-stop" center for students to ask questions on such topics as enrollment and financial aid.

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