Updates from the Provost
- Author: Tuesday, January 7th, 2020
Good morning colleagues,
Happy New Year! I truly hope you were able to enjoy your winter break and that you have taken some time to refresh, reflect, and relax.
As we return to the Hill, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of our focus on Student Success. Over the past couple of years, collectively, the Division of Academic Affairs and the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience have put significant effort into a variety of student success and retention initiatives. Many of these focus on student engagement, support services, and financial aid. Through these focus areas and your hard work, we have been able to significantly increase our first to second year retention. In fact, final census data for Fall 2018 freshmen returning in Fall 2019 report a retention rate (attached) of 70.3%, up 2.1% from last year!
As we gear up for the Spring 2020 semester, I would like to add to our portfolio of student success practices a renewed focus on quality teaching - especially in gateway foundation and exploration courses. Data show that success in these courses directly impacts first to second year retention. Through a partnership between the Academic Colleges and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) we will focus our efforts on developing and implementing a set of best teaching practices. Quality teaching is key to the success of our graduates and should continue to be a defining feature of the WKU experience.
As we advance in this work, we must take into consideration data which show that underrepresented minority (URM) students at WKU are not as successful as they should be in our gateway foundation and exploration courses, resulting in lower retention rates (55.4% for URM freshmen vs. 73.9% for non-URM first-year students). In an effort to improve academic success for all of our students through high quality instruction, the Division of Academic Affairs is committed to providing the support needed to provide professional development to improve instruction and the related student experience. A CITL email (attached) was sent last week encouraging faculty participation in a variety of workshops and webinars beginning this month. This is important work that can help more of our students succeed.
On behalf of our students, thank you for the work you do to insure their success!
Have a great semester!