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By Jessica Vega
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 2, 1998

Administrators to discuss improving undergrad retention

UA administrators today will formally discuss ways to improve the university's stagnant undergraduate retention rates.

Over the last two months, Michael Gottfredson, vice president for undergraduate education, put together a draft outlining different university programs aimed at keeping students in school, said Richard Kroc, director of the University of Arizona's Student Research Office.

The report, which examines retention rates from 1984 to 1996, states that since 1984, about 75 percent of freshmen stay at the UA after one year and about 65 percent stay in school after their second year.

Kroc said the draft will be presented to UA President Peter Likins and his Cabinet members today for review. Before the draft is made public, the president's Cabinet and UA's Dean's Council will add to it and suggest additional ways to improve university retention rates.

The report, Kroc said, will help Likins become more familiar with past and current retention rates at the UA. Likins "seems to be very, very interested in retention" as a top priority, Kroc said.

From the documents he has gathered, Kroc said the UA's graduation rates have steadily climbed the last 10 years.

The report states that 15 percent of students entering the UA in 1984 graduated in four years, while 22 percent who entered in 1993 graduated in the same time frame.

Kroc said the UA offers a variety of programs to help students stay in school.

"You would be amazed at how many things are offered (to students)," he said.

Jeff Warburton, the UA's Faculty Senate presiding officer, agreed with Kroc.

"There's a plethora of stuff kids could do - most faculty would help students anytime, anywhere with their classes or career."

The Minority Student Service Center offers three programs to help first-year students do well and adjust to college life: MERITS, New Start and the Student Encouragement Program.

"All students need this - definitely all freshmen," said Dawn Dineyazhe, a graduate mentor in the program. "The first year is the critical year."

She said each program draws about 300 students a year. Students partnered with peer advisers focus on time management and studying for classes.

Dineyazhe said students in the programs who quit school during their second semester do so because they work too many hours at a job and take too many credit hours.

"There's a multitude of reasons why they drop out," said Rudy McCormick, a Minority Student Services graduate assistant. "We try and teach them about other resources on the campus."

The Faculty Fellows, a faculty mentoring group, tell students living in residence halls how to make the most of their university experience.

David Williams, a communications professor and 10-year faculty fellow, said he has talked with many students who were unhappy when beginning the UA.

"One young man called home every day until he joined a basketball group - and then stayed," Williams said. "All he needed was to belong."

Colleen McNamara, a veterinary science freshman who lives in Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall, said her hall's advising program is "kind of a joke." She said she did not know a faculty fellow was assigned to her residence until three weeks into the semester.

"I probably would have gone, because it was hard to adjust," she said.

John Bickell, a computer science freshman, said people who drop out of school are not motivated.

"Most (of the reasons students leave) have nothing to do with U of A - just a lack of motivation." he said.

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