Tarleton raises bar in graduation, retention rates for regional A&M schools

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents today heard how Tarleton State University’s efforts to improve student success are increasing graduation and retention rates, improving engagement and leading the way for other regional A&M System schools.

A&M System Vice Chancellor James Hallmark kicked off a meeting of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs (CASA) saying, “Tarleton has moved the needle more than any university in the A&M System” with its intentional focus on helping students succeed academically, personally and professionally.

The discussion was part of the fall meeting of the Board of Regents under way this week on the Stephenville campus.

Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio told committee members that student success is a university-wide commitment involving everyone from the school’s administrators to groundskeepers.

“Student success is a team sport,” he said. “It requires all hands on deck.”

Dottavio talked about the ongoing work of Tarleton’s CLASS (Campus Leaders Advocating for Student Success) committee, made up of cabinet members, vice presidents, deans and executive directors who meet monthly to move the school closer to its goal of becoming the premier student-focused university in Texas and beyond.

Dr. Karen Murray, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, shared some of the university’s strategies for turning new students into Texans for life, ensuring they complete their degrees and preparing them for successful careers. Initiatives like tailored academic advising; detailed major action plans (MAPS) that connect required courses with opportunities for study-abroad programs and hands-on learning; and academic and social programs that introduce students to campus life, promote self-confidence and build relationships.

“Student success is more than earning credits and receiving a diploma,” she said. “Success also includes personal growth—mind, body and spirit—and involvement in opportunities that promote improved quality of life.”

Most recently, Tarleton created a new Division of Enrollment Management that includes student success efforts, multicultural initiatives and offsite programs in Fort Worth, Waco and Midlothian as well as its Global Campus.

“Creating a division that combines student success programs with enrollment management reflects our commitment to better serve students,” Dottavio explained. “The division focuses our efforts on recruiting new students and keeping current students on the path to accomplishing their educational goals.”

Regents attending today’s CASA meeting heard about Tarleton’s efforts to improve processes for transfer students and its selection by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to take part in a project to improve the first-year higher education experience.

Efforts to improve student success are working.

Tarleton’s four-year graduation rate for transfer students—70 percent—tops the state average by 10 points, placing it among the best for Texas public universities, and more than half of the 2,583 degrees awarded in 2014-15 were earned by at-risk students.

“We have come a long way and made significant progress since renewing our focus on student success,” Dottavio told the regents. “Our graduation and retention results are proof, but it is no time to stop. We have more work to do.”

Tarleton, celebrating 100 years as founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven educational experience marked by academic innovation and exemplary service, and dedicated to transforming students into tomorrow’s professional leaders. As a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) with campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online, Tarleton engages with its communities to provide real-world learning experiences and to address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, leadership, excellence and service.

Cecilia Jacobs, News & Information Director
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A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of more than 15,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, A&M RELLIS at Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity, and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.