Big 12 universities
Scores of retention and graduation rates of Big 12 schools. Retention rates are listed first, then graduation rates:
Texas A&M;: 92, 78
Texas: 91, 78
Baylor: 86, 73
Missouri: 85, 69
Iowa State: 84, 67
Colorado: 84, 67
Nebraska: 84, 64
Oklahoma: 83, 60
Kansas: 80, 60
Texas Tech: 80, 57
Oklahoma State: 77, 60
Kansas State: 74, 58
— Statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Retention rates reflect the percentage of 2007 first-year students who came back in 2008. Graduation rates reflect percentage of 2002 students who graduated in six years.
Kansas University lags behind the country, and much of the Big 12, when it comes to student graduation and retention rates.
In 2008, 80 percent of first-year students returned for a second year at KU, placing the university in a tie for 10th in the Big 12 and below the national public university average of 87 percent. And only three out of five KU students who start a degree graduate within six years, also placing KU near the bottom compared with its Big 12 peers.
The numbers are a concern for the university, and a new initiative from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little aims to change that.
“We’re not where we should be, and we’re not where the chancellor wants us to be ... and we’re probably not where the parents of students want us to be,” said KU professor Chris Haufler, whom Gray-Little appointed to a task force designed to beef up KU’s numbers.
Haufler, who chairs KU’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will assist incoming Provost Jeffrey Vitter on the task force.
The creation of the task force shows this is a priority for the chancellor, Haufler said.
“I think the chancellor’s very concerned and the incoming provost is also very concerned — and rightly so,” he said.
The good news, Haufler said, is that the university has a lot of options in how to address the problem.
Gray-Little said that it starts with emphasizing more experiential learning opportunities, include expanded roles for students in research, and providing opportunities for developing capacities for leadership and citizenship.
Recommendations from the Task Force Report on Retention and Timely Graduation include:
• Reducing graduation requirements from 124 credit hours to 120 credit hours to match peer institutions.
• Update KU’s general education requirements, as “one in five students who have met the goals of their majors fail to graduate because they have not satisfied general education coursework.”
• The implementation of an “early-warning system” for students struggling in their freshman year.
• Increase involvement of undergraduate students in research and service learning projects.