Student success is our focus at UW-Stout. Even before beginning as Chancellor almost exactly one year ago today, it was clear to me that our university community cares deeply about all aspects of the student experience and wants to see Blue Devils succeed. It was one of the reasons I wanted to come here, and it will remain the top priority in our new strategic plan, FOCUS2030, that will be featured during our May 2021 “You Said, We Did” event.
Even with our strong commitment to student success, it is critical that we evaluate consistently how well we support our students and what the data show regarding our impact. We know that overall student enrollment is a challenge across the UW System, including at UW-Stout, and that the pandemic has created new enrollment challenges that impact both recruitment and retention.
Every individual at UW-Stout has the potential to positively impact enrollment through intentional retention efforts.
One of the first steps I took to better coordinate retention efforts when I began at Stout was to establish the Retention Committee, which is co-chaired by Amanda Barnett, interim Associate Provost, and Amy McGovern, Retention Specialist. The primary goal of the committee is to work on improving our retention efforts in a more comprehensive manner across the university. The committee hosts a retention site that lists committee members, outlines the work of the committee, and highlights a variety of campus retention resources and initiatives.
Some of the work of the committee to date includes:
- Collecting student feedback regarding student engagement at UW-Stout that will inform retention plans and recommendations developed by the committee.
- Developing a short-term (Spring, 2021) plan that includes a more coordinated and intentional approach for supporting students on probation, combined with increased use of EAB Navigate by faculty and first year advisors who have an advisee on probation this semester.
- Developing a long-term plan for Fall 2021 that includes more comprehensive and strategic use of EAB Navigate by the university community, paired with trainings and resources to support everyone involved in these retention efforts.
- Communicating with and gaining feedback from constituents/stakeholders such as governance groups, advisors, and student support offices regarding committee work and retention in general.
In addition to the many resources listed on the Retention Committee site the committee has also helped to coordinate the following retention tips and strategies handouts: Traditional, On-Campus Students Handout and CI, Adult Learners Handout. Please review these resources for more information.
Finally, beginning this Thursday, March 4, Campus Connections will include a new weekly section titled, “Focus on Retention,” which will feature tips from the Retention Committee that staff and faculty can use to help contribute to improved student retention. Now is the time to be organized, strategic, and intentional about our work across the university.
I greatly appreciate the efforts of not only the members of the Retention Committee, but also the university faculty and staff who have been working hard to ensure that all our students have the best experience possible during their time at UW-Stout.