Provost Retention Scholars Program (DRAFT)

Provost Retention Scholars Initiative

In an effort to increase the retention and persistence to degree of underrepresented students and students at-risk, the school Deans, at the encouragement of the Provost, enhanced student retention initiatives within their respective schools.  In fall of 2010, a faculty committee within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) began to interact with the Director of Institutional Research and the Assistant Vice President of Institutional Assessment and Planning (AVP IAP) to study retention in their school.  After a few meetings, a retention data set was prepared and shared with the faculty for analysis purposes.  The HSS faculty recognized the need to prepare a code book for the data set and also identified several studies.  The data set provided to the faculty included data for all students, not just those in the HSS school.  Faculty involved in the HSS retention committee and the administrators in Planning, Assessment and Analysis determined that University-wide faculty representation among faculty was needed.

The development of the Provost Retention Scholars initiative is an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort to study retention and persistence patterns and suggest implications for improvements as a result of the analyses. The primary purpose is to expand Millersville’s ability to use data to inform decisions that increase student success.  This objective will be accomplished using existing institutional and survey data, and when necessary, conduct qualitative research to further explore findings. In addition to seeking representation of faculty from the School of Science and Math and the School of Education, the Associate Provost for Enrollment Management (AP EM) was identified as a necessary leader for the project.  Existing retention initiatives and the Enrollment Management and Retention Plans must be informed by the studies conducted.

For this initiative to be successful, a risk analysis of student departure must be conducted as the first priority.  The risk analysis may be patterned after the Philadelphia Mayor’s College Completion Taskforce, specifically the risk analysis project at Temple University.

The Provost Retention Scholars conducted quantitative and qualitative studies on student retention, shared the results, and proposed implications with the Deans’ Council, school councils, Faculty Senate, and others within the University community.  The Provost, Deans, Associate Provosts, Department Chairs, Faculty Senate leaders and others in the University community (for example, Student Affairs professionals) may use the results from the retention studies to improve learning experiences, services, and the environment for students.

Click here to view the summary report of retention and graduation trends.