Study offers suggestions to increase graduation rates

Daily Sundial

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Results of a new study sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities might help CSUN and other state universities come up with new strategies to improve graduation rates.

Twelve universities from across the country have been selected because of their high graduation rates and rapid improvement.

Claire Cavallaro, CSUN chief of staff, said there are three main purposes of this study.

One ultimate purpose, Cavallaro said, is to find out information and strategies that can be applied to improve CSUN graduation rates.

Because this is a national issue, Cavallaro said, there is an effort to react to the major issues in a proactive manner, rather than reacting after the fact.

It will also serve to inform Congress about what is being done, Cavallaro said.

“At CSUs in the Los Angeles basin, we are all struggling (with graduation rates),” Cavallaro said. “That’s why we can use the information from this study.”

Improving graduation rates has been an important issue to CSUN administrators, Cavallaro said.

“That has been one of (President Jolene Koester’s) priorities since she’s been at the university,” Cavallaro said.

Terry Piper, vice president of Student Affairs, said there has been an ongoing effort to improve graduation rates.

One of the major things recently approved to facilitate the graduation process, Piper said, is the general education reduction plan.

This will reduce the number of general education units students are required to fulfill by almost 10, Piper said.

John Hammang, director of special projects for the A.A.S.C.U., said one of the main findings at universities with higher graduation rates was a high level of commitment to student success.

This includes having administrators and staff who truly believe that the major goal of the university is to help its students be successful, Hammang said.

“It’s not enough to talk about it and do it,” he said. “People have to be committed to it. It’s also important to take a look at the organizational structure.”

Hammang said one of the features that created a stronger structure in the environment was a high level of interaction between students and faculty.

The final results of the study will be released in July 2005.