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USF Graduation and Retention Rates Garner National Recognition

In an analysis of 1,100 schools, USF ranks first nationally in student success.

TAMPA, Fla. (July 7, 2016) - The University of South Florida ranks as the nation’s top performer in “Overall Student Success” among public research and doctoral universities in the 2016 Eduventures Student Success Ratings. A leading independent higher education research and advisory firm, Eduventures analyzed graduation and first-year retention data—two key indicators of student success—from 2004 to 2014 from more than 1,100 colleges and universities in the United States to develop the ranking.

“Over the last ten years, USF has significantly improved its six-year graduation rate from 47 to 67 percent and First Time in College student retention rates from 81 to 89 percent, a rate of growth that few institutions can match,” said Paul Dosal, vice president of Student Affairs and Student Success at USF. “These gains are the result of a thoughtful and deliberate culture change as the university transformed the way we approach the student experience and committed to improve graduation and first-year retention rates. We created a student success movement designed to embed the responsibility of our students’ success in every individual on campus.”

“As a result of these efforts, USF also has eliminated the achievement gap between racial and ethnic minorities,” added Dosal. “Black and Hispanic students graduate at rates equal or superior to the rates of white students. The same is true for limited income students.”

As part of the institutional focus on student success, USF has implemented numerous programs and initiatives in recent years, including: adding academic advisors with focused assistance to students who may be struggling; redesigned gateway courses; created a SMART Lab and increased library hours, expanded study spaces, writing and tutoring assistance and created Living and Learning Communities.

To build on its successes, last year USF began utilizing real-time predictive analytics to identify students who may need immediate support to stay on track and ensure timely graduation. With the help of sophisticated analytics that examines over 300 variables each week, a retention committee made up of staff from student involvement and engagement, first-year experience, residential life and education, financial aid, university data and research, and academic advising review potentially “at-risk” students offering the appropriate interventions needed to ensure timely degree completion.

“We are honored to be recognized as the top performer in overall student success by Eduventures. Ensuring that our students achieve timely degree completion and are well-prepared to successfully compete in a global environment remain central to our mission and vision at USF, and aligns with the goals established by the Florida Board of Governors,” said Ralph Wilcox, provost and executive vice president at USF. “While we have made incredible progress over the years, our pursuit of excellence continues.”

Recently designated as an emerging preeminent research university by the Florida Board of Governors, USF has set a goal to achieve full preeminence in two years, opening the door to further national prominence and eventual eligibility for AAU membership. The Florida Preeminence program, written into state law three years ago, rewards high-performing state research institutions based on 12 metrics. Meeting nine of 12 preeminence benchmarks, USF is only two metrics away from full preeminence – which requires meeting 11 of 12 metrics.

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