January 18, 2018
Letter from the vice provost for undergraduate studies
This is my second quarterly update for the 2017-18 academic year.
At the conclusion of 2017, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences issued a report on the future of undergraduate education in the U.S. The report stressed the paramount importance of educational quality — "making sure that all students receive the education they need to succeed, that they are able to complete the studies they begin, and that they can do all of this affordably, without mortgaging the very future they seek to improve."
K-State is making progress in all of these areas. Over the past five years, we have rapidly improved persistence and graduation rates and are now positioned halfway to our ambitious yet achievable K-State 2025 goals. What's more, we are beginning to close untenable achievement gaps.
According to the new and most recent report from the University of Oklahoma Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange, K-State has above-average persistence rates for all comparative surveyed ethnic groups except Asian students, although it is also true that K-State's Asian student persistence rate increased from 73.9 to 86.5 percent between 2014-15 and is, in this study, only a whisker below the comparable national average.
Likewise, this same study documents that African-American students at K-State earned a similar increase in first-to-second year retention, from 64.1 percent in 2014 to 79.1 percent for the 2015 cohort, while Native American students enjoyed the greatest jump, from 75 percent to 94.1 percent. The report also shows that K-State has moved up significantly vis-à-vis other land-grant universities and self-selected peer institutions, especially ranked by first-year retention and average GPA. Kudos to K-State First, our first-year experience program, and its many essential partners.
We know, too, that K-State's first-generation students have experienced encouraging increase in persistence and graduation success. Thanks are due to the leadership provided by the First Scholars Program, led by Rebeca Paz, and to the on-going support of the Suder Foundation, which provides considerable philanthropic support for our efforts. K-State looks forward to further supporting first-generation success in the years ahead, and will participate in the growing national dialogue via the Suder Foundation and the Suder-funded NASPA Center for First-Generation Student Success.
Every instructor who provides challenge and support in the classroom and via co-curricular learning — every tutor, R.A., coach, advisor, administrator and student life professional — make vital contributions. Charlie Nutt, NACADA's executive director, shared that K-State sent more faculty, staff, and student leaders to NACADA's most recent national meeting than any other university. We had never previously cracked the top five! Likewise, the fifth annual K-State/NACADA Winter Academic Advising Institute enjoyed record participation. There is great energy for student success.
This spring, we look forward to piloting midterm progress reports through use of the Student Success Collaborative, or SSC, strengthening of K-State 8 (including the "Human Diversity in the U.S." area), Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol and Developing Scholars Program Symposium (red letter days both), graduation of our first class of First Scholars, and a new look for our nationally recognized Honor and Integrity System. The laudable success enjoyed by University Honors students, nationally competitive scholarships participants, pre-law students, undergraduate researchers, and many others, signals K-State's unwavering attention to undergraduate quality.
On behalf of everyone in Undergraduate Studies at work on behalf of student success, very best wishes for a pleasant and productive new year.
Steven P. Dandaneau, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies