We are happy to announce that the Student Retention Initiative, providing for lower student/faculty ratios in the lower division curriculum, will be continued in the 2013-14 academic year.
In March 2012, the Academic Deans announced the Student Retention Initiative, supported by the faculty union, that reduced the student/faculty ratio for first-year and lower division programs during the 2012-13 academic year. Core programs (all seats reserved for freshmen) were limited to 18 students per faculty member and lower division programs (a 50:50 mix of freshmen and sophomores) were limited to 20 students per faculty member. This initiative was designed to support the mission of the college and to recruit and retain students.
The 2012-14 Collective Bargaining Agreement called for College management and the UFE to review three criteria to determine whether the initiative would be continued in the 2013-14 academic year. The CBA indicated that the College and UFE would jointly evaluate “if there is sufficient commitment by regular faculty members to participate in first-year/lower division programs, there is evidence that the 2012-13 pilot has achieved meaningful improvement in student retention, and institutional resources have not been materially reduced by budget cuts or enrollment shortfalls.” (Section 7.4)
Provost Michael Zimmerman recently met with UFE leaders to conduct this evaluation, and the parties agreed that while there are some challenges regarding budget and enrollment, regular faculty members participated in the initiative in significant numbers and there was evidence of improved retention between fall and winter quarters for first year and lower division students. The positive factors in student retention and faculty participation were such that the parties agreed to continue the initiative next year.
When this program was introduced last year, Dean Paul Przybylowicz wrote: “We’re hoping that these reduced ratios will permit faculty the flexibility to experiment creatively within their programs and that such pedagogical experimentation will thoroughly engage students.” We are encouraged by the evidence that this may be happening, and in deciding to continue the lower ratios, both the management and the UFE agree that improving student recruitment and retention is vital to the success of the College.