Few actions we could take as a university would benefit students, parents, and the University itself as much as increasing our four-year graduation rate. Timely graduation means a more affordable education for students and their families and would give more students access to a University of Texas education.
Although our four-year graduation rate of 50 percent is the highest of any public university in Texas, we must aspire to more. It is no coincidence that the most prestigious universities also have the highest graduation rates, and if we want to become the best public university in America, we must target this issue.
In September, I asked Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl to head up a task force to recommend ways of increasing four-year graduation to 70 percent in the next five years. The group submitted its report this week, and I thank the members for their hard work and insightful recommendations.
In total, the task force made more than 60 recommendations. Among them:
• Requiring orientation for all incoming first-year students
• Creating an online tool to better allow students and advisors to monitor progress to a degree
• Developing more intervention programs to identify and assist students in academic jeopardy
• Identifying “bottleneck” courses where limited seats can create challenges for students pursuing a required path to graduation
• Helping students commit to a major and avoid adding a second major if requirements cannot be met within four years
• Creating flat-rate summer tuition to encourage students to take a full academic load
• Increasing tuition for students who have not graduated despite earning more than the required number of credits
Some of these, such as mandatory freshman orientation, will be implemented immediately. Others will need additional input from faculty and staff.
Raising our graduation rates by 20 points in half a decade is an audacious goal. It will require the focused effort of both administrators and students to make it happen. But I’m convinced the benefits will repay the effort many times over.
Thank you for your support in achieving this important goal.
You may read the full report at: http://www.utexas.edu/graduation-rates/