CSU sets graduation goals

Despite budget reductions and cuts to academic resources, university officials have proposed plans to graduate more students out of the California State University system with less funding.

The CSU Board of Trustees adopted an initiative Wednesday that would increase the percentage of students who complete four-year degrees.

Trustees stated during their meeting in Long Beach that the long-term initiative would boost the rate of graduates throughout the 23 CSU campuses by eight percent by 2016. At the moment, approximately 46 percent of students graduate within six years of entering college. The goal, according to CSU officials, is to increase the graduation rate overall by 54 percent.

“The goal of this initiative is to not only increase the number of students who complete their degree, but to also help those from traditionally underrepresented communities who may need additional support to finish,” CSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Jeri Echeverria said in a press release.

The initiative also outlines plans for how the CSU will improve graduation rates for traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups.

In an e-mailed response to the initiative, University President John D. Welty said that Fresno State plans to increase the six-year graduate rate for first-time freshmen and transfer students by six percentage points within the next six years.

“Our official goal is 51 percent, but we’re working to exceed that,” Welty said. “An additional goal is to reduce the graduation rate gap between traditionally represented and underrepresented groups by half.”

Several programs will be implemented to reach this goal, according to Associated Students Inc. president Jessica Sweeten.

The graduation initiative at Fresno State, Sweeten said, will include efforts such as: implementing a student success plan; restoring one on one mentoring between faculty and students; mandatory academic advising for students whose grade point averages fall below 2.0; and faculty-student collaboration on research projects.

The Student Success Task Force, a student committee co-chaired by Provost William A. Covino and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul Oliaro, will develop the plan for the campus and focus their attention on this year’s entering freshman.

Board of Trustees member Russel Statham said that the initiative is still in the decision making phase, but he is hopeful that the final proposal will help students graduate.

“I am pleased with [the CSUs] progress,” Statham said. “A number of proven techniques have been explored in a comprehensive fashion and can be a part of the larger solution.”

The initiative to graduate more students corresponds with President Barack Obama’s call for an overhaul of the educational system in the United States in order to remain competitive in the global economy.

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