Following a year of uneasiness and uncertainty centered around budget cuts and the restructuring, UCM’s 2013 Contract for Completion appears to be doing its job.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education recently released its Performance Measure Results for fiscal years 2015-2017, showing that UCM leads the state in degree completions per full-time equivalent student. This is one of three priority measures for the Department of Higher Education and helps determine state funding for universities.
Mike Godard, interim provost and chief learning officer, said the state provides more credit for degrees that are in the STEM or health-related areas.
“So, you get 50 percent more credit for graduating students in those areas, and then the other area that’s weighted is the students that are Pell eligible, as well,” he said. “So, when you weight those two out, the University of Central Missouri was the highest completions per FTE for public universities across the state. And so that’s kind of what that means, is how good of a job are we doing making sure our students cross the finish line and graduate.”
UCM saw a 7.6 percent increase in degree completions from fiscal years 2014-2016 to fiscal years 2015-2017, increasing from 42.9 to 50.5 percent with a state benchmark of 25 percent.
UCM has its eyes set on a number even higher.
“This means that we aren’t satisfied, even though the next closest institution to us is the University of Missouri System at 40.4 percent,” Godard said. “We need to continue building on our strengths and making sure that we look at that pathway for success for our students and ensure that we take down as many barriers as we possibly can to ensure that even more students complete their degree, preferably within four years.”
The Contract for Completion, better known as the Fifteen to Finish initiative, was created to help students graduate on time.
“We’ve been very intentional on making sure that students stay on that path and that they’re taking those right 15 credit hours, and they’re meeting with their success adviser every semester, or at least encouraging students to do that,” Godard said.
The university also received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education last fall to enhance student success initiatives across campus.
“It’s a five-year grant to allow us to do an even better job of what we’re doing right now,” Godard said. “A lot of that is embedding even more peer coaching or mentoring into the Success Advising Center and other areas across campus, enhancing our tutoring services to ensure that those support services are there for our students. So, we want to continue to build on those, but certainly the redesigning of the student success continuum is key for us as move through the rest of this year and into the future years, as well.”