Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Recruit to Retain to Graduate

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Recruit to Retain to Graduate

By Melissa VitoSenior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment and Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success

Through a series of four special reports, we will provide you with a "sneak peek" of President Ann Weaver Hart's Nov. 22 presentation of the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. In this report, Dr. Vito discusses emerging efforts to evolve our recruitment and retention activities to ensure we’re meeting the needs of changing student demographics by providing multiple pathways to college degree attainment.


By Melissa Vito
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment
Vice Provost, Academic Initiatives and Student Success
November 13, 2013

We need to graduate more college students.

While workforce trends indicate the need for a more college-educated population, we know that geographic, monetary and cultural barriers keep many qualified students from finding their way to, or through, the doors of higher education. Today, only 52 percent of Arizona's high school graduates pursue any form of higher education after graduating, and only 17 percent have a bachelor's degree six years after graduating high school.

To help us meet the goals of producing a more educated population, we will expand our current focus of enrolling outstanding undergraduate and graduate students from around the globe while targeting our efforts in two areas: Arizona community college transfers and online degrees.

Transfer growth will require strong partnership and creative programming with our community college colleagues across Arizona. To foster this synergy, we have established a Transfer Enrollment Team and integrated the Transfer Student Center within that team. This team, in partnership with UA South, will lead an effort to complete UA Bridge agreements with every community college in the state, with a special focus on the highest opportunity programs – those programs that will attract the most students, transfer easily, and provide the types of education most needed in the state.

Growing our online presence will also be key to our success, especially for non-traditional students who will need creative alternatives to achieve their degrees. Our goal is to have 7,500 students enrolled in online programs by 2020. In the past, the UA approach to online program education has been single courses or smaller graduate programs driven by faculty interest in online teaching, resulting in just over 300 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students enrolled in online programs in 2013. To maximize the impact of online education on our enrollment, retention and graduation, we must be strategic in building future online program and degree offerings. Among the activities we'll pursue to expand our online presence will be to:

  • Capitalize on signature programs that have the highest opportunity and interest.
  • Leverage online learning as a way for students to complete unfinished degrees and shorten overall time to degree.
  • Explicitly integrate online learning into overall enrollment goals.
  • Expand online offerings supporting increased transfer enrollment.

The "Real World in Real Time" is what 100% Engagement is all about. The UA goal for this initiative is to graduate future leaders who have the skills to apply their knowledge and solve the world's grand challenges. We will provide a learning experience tailored to individual students' needs and with the experience to integrate and apply knowledge through real-world experiential learning. We know that a successful college experience for both parents and students is marked by the ability to get a good job upon graduation and it is through real-world experiences that students will be able to translate formal academic experiences into applied settings. This opportunity will be available to all undergraduate students in the forms of internships, service learning and study abroad, to name a few. It is equally important that our online students have the same high quality engaged learning opportunities as well. Eventually the engagement experience will be a graduation requirement and all employers and graduate schools will know that UA graduates are real-world ready. In the meantime, all students will have a notation on their transcript that notes their completion of 100% Engagement.

To learn more about the UA's efforts to "Recruit to Retain to Graduate," plan to join President Hart, other senior leaders and me on Nov. 22 when we present the Never Settle Strategic Academic and Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. Details about the presentation can be found in this recent campus memo.

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