Assessment of Student Retention, Satisfaction, and Graduation

The 1996 Board of Trustees resolutionAggressively Pursuing Excellence in UndergraduateEducation and the 1999 resolution RepositioningUndergraduate Education established excellencein undergraduate education as a core institutionalgoal, determined the broad parameters ofa strategy to achieve this goal, and asked for thedevelopment of measurable outcomes to be usedto assess progress toward this goal.

Since that time, the University has aggressivelypursued excellence in undergraduateeducation and has developed an assessmentsystem to guide these efforts. The University hasused specific assessment methods to monitor andimprove the retention, satisfaction, and graduationof its undergraduate students. Data havebeen gathered by creating and regularly revisingextensive in-house student surveys, participatingin national surveys, and benchmarking progressagainst peer and aspirational peer institutions.These data have been used to drive programmingthat will increase retention and satisfaction andto improve graduation rates and students’ preparationfor life after graduation.

As a result of these efforts, the Universityhas improved the student experience, as demonstratedby improved retention, graduation, andsatisfaction (see Figure 9 and discussed below).The University’s success also has earned externalrecognition, including rising in the U.S. News& World Report rankings of top public researchuniversities from the second tier (51st–115th) in1995 to tied for 19th in the most recent ranking(2012); being cited by Kiplinger’s, the PrincetonReview, and U.S. News as one of the best valuesin higher education; and, in the PrincetonReview’s list of 650 universities, being rankedeighth as having the “happiest” students and 11thfor best quality of life for students