TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 9, 2016) – The University of South Florida has earned a national award for its unique approach to effectively retaining first-year college students. The innovative method may also help the university reach “Preeminent” status in the state of Florida.
USF recently received an Eduventures 2016 Innovation Award from the National Research Center for College & University Admissions (NRCCUA), a leading provider of data and analytics solutions to public and private colleges and universities. The 2016 Innovation Award for “Defining and Reporting Outcomes” was given in recognition of the university’s student success initiatives which utilize performance data to significantly improve first-year retention rates. This award comes only a few months after Eduventures, a leading higher education research and advisory firm recently acquired by NRCCUA, rated USF as the top student success performer among all public research/doctoral institutions in the country.
Freshman retention rate is one of 12 metrics used by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) to determine Preeminence. In June, USF was named the state’s first “Emerging Preeminent” institution. USF aims to earn the full Preeminence designation in 2018 and retention rates is a category the university must increase to 90 percent in order to reach the BOG’s benchmark.
“USF’s national reputation is attracting some of the best students from across the nation and around the world,” said Paul Dosal, USF’s Vice President for Student Affairs & Student Success. “Our cutting-edge analytics are helping us to keep them. By intercepting a student at the first sign of an issue, we can get them back on track so they thrive and advance to their second year, greatly improving their odds for degree attainment. It’s an honor to have the NRCCUA recognize these efforts as we continue to pursue Preeminent status in the state of Florida and position ourselves for AAU membership.”
By integrating a data analytics platform, paired with an institution-wide student persistence committee, USF has successfully empowered multiple stakeholders to effectively utilize student performance data. Following a case management model, the committee receives weekly lists of at-risk students, identifies their problems quickly, refers them to appropriate offices and personnel for assistance, and coordinates the delivery of services to ensure student success. As a result of this ongoing process, the university’s first-year retention rate improved from 88.2 percent to the current level of 89.97 percent—the highest in USF history. The effective use of predictive analytics to promote student success helped the university earn the award.
The Eduventures Innovation Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations that share Eduventures’ vision for improved outcomes through innovative programming that supports critical areas of an institution. Selected by a panel of higher education leaders and advisors, NRCCUA and Eduventures showcased this year’s winners during an annual summit in late October.