Record-breaking retention gives faculty reason to party

Jamie Shearer

Provost organizes success celebration

Stanley Wearden, dean for the College of Communication and Information, can’t remember the university hosting a celebration for student retention in the 25 years he’s been here.

The celebration, which is Sept. 22, is for all Kent State faculty and staff to recognize the university’s improved fall retention.

Provost Robert Frank said the event is for faculty to take a moment “to luxuriate in some really good success.”

Wearden said he’s definitely planning to attend the celebration.

“I think it’s nice that we’re celebrating it,” he said. “When we have successes, we need to take a moment and pause and enjoy them and also reflect on what we’ve done to be successful so that we can continue that success in the future.”

Robert “Yank” Heisler Jr., dean for the College of Business Administration, said his college’s undergraduate office, learning communities and faculty, who’ve made it a higher priority to be more accessible to students, have helped increase retention.

“I think it’s just a combination of things,” said Heisler, who also plans to attend the party. “[There are] lots of good things that have been done to move through the needle.”

Wearden thinks good retention is about creating bonds with the university, and said the College of Communication and Information has tried to do this through a decentralized advising model where the different schools in the college have their own advising centers, rather than one main center. This allows advisers to get to know students better.

“One of the things that we know about retention is that students are more likely to stay at a university if they’ve created some personal bonds with faculty, with advisers, with staff members, with other students, whatever it might be,” he said.

Though the retention rate isn’t official until this afternoon, it’s expected to be in the high 70th percentile.

Frank said the retention rate has fluctuated about half of a point since he’s been here. And this year retention is not only higher than the university’s goal, but “it’s higher than it’s ever been.”

He said this, along with the projected enrollment, has given the university an “indefinable sense of direction and energy.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Jamie Shearer at [email protected].