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K-State Today

March 30, 2015

Letter from the vice provost for undergraduate studies

Submitted by Steven Dandaneau

Dear Colleagues:

I offer a quarterly update from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Previous updates are available online.

K-State has achieved record high first-to-second year retention, 83.27 percent, and six-year graduation rates, 59.5 percent. The three-year trend is encouraging, from 80 to 83 percent and from 56 to 60 percent, respectively and with rounding. This means that our K-State 2025 goals — 90 percent retention and 70 percent six-year graduation — are within grasp. Put differently, we need to retain roughly 250 additional students from their first to their second year of study, and graduate 380 additional students annually.

Like retention and graduate rates, undergraduate research is a benchmark measure in K-State 2025. A course-based undergraduate research recognition and measurement system was recently approved for expedited use by colleges and departments. When employed, the impressive extent and admirable quality of faculty mentoring and student dedication and creativity in undergraduate research will appear more consistently on transcripts and will be measured universitywide with greater accuracy. This will help K-State gauge progress and garner additional national recognition in undergraduate research.

Inspired and supported by rigorous and enriching course work, faculty mentoring, and expert advising, our undergraduate students continue to set the pace vis-à-vis nationally competitive scholarships. Since 1986, K-State ranks ninth behind Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Duke, Brown, Chicago, and MIT — and just ahead of Cornell — in total number of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater and Udall Scholarship recipients. K-State is therefore first nationally among all public universities — ahead of Arizona State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UVA, Penn State, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, UW-Seattle and Georgia, in that order.

Nationally competitive scholarship success is typically built, at least in part, on high-quality undergraduate research experience. It is therefore noteworthy that K-State and the University of Washington, Seattle, are the only two universities nationally to host six or more prestigious National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate, or REU, programs as well as the prestigious National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate Programs. These federally funded programs, and others very much like them, reflect our faculty's nationally recognized scholarly expertise as well as their abiding commitment to expanded access to undergraduate research opportunities.

Of course, there is more to undergraduate education than research experience. Each unit in Undergraduate Studies — K-State First, Honor and Integrity System, University Honors Program, Pre-Law Advising, Nationally Competitive Scholarships, as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry — is pursuing strategic plans, collaborating across units, cultivating resources, and, needless to stress, working directly with and on behalf of thousands of K-State undergraduate students. The Residential CAT Community Initiative, a collaborative effort between Housing and Dining Services and K-State First is significantly expanding K-State's living/learning communities, is one such initiative. I expect to include several more of equally exciting prominence and significance in my next update.

Let me conclude by underscoring two upcoming events. The University Advising Committee is preparing the third annual Kansas State University/National Academic Advising Association Summer Undergraduate Academic Advising Institute, May 20-21, which will feature keynote addresses by Ruth Darling, former National Academic Advising Association president and assistant provost at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Shane Lopez, distinguished psychologist and Gallup senior scientist. Additional information, including a registration link, is forthcoming in K-State Today.

Finally, if you are interested in learning more about first-generation students, please consider attending a talk by Eric and Deb Suder, the founder and co-founder of the Suder Foundation. Having provided the gift that supported the establishment of K-State's First Scholars Program in 2013, the Suders' will address their mission to support first-generation students at K-State and at other nationally prominent public universities. Join us from 4-5 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in Town Hall at the Leadership Studies Building. A reception will follow from 5-5:45 p.m. All are welcome.


Steven P. Dandaneau, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies