Retention of students is complex and there are many things that can be done to increase retention and success for students at BSU…but let me simplify it for us:
1. Recruiting students who are well prepared for college and providing high levels of support for those who are not results in higher retention
2. Relevant, experiential-based learning (projects, field-based work, hands-on, etc.) where students have input into planning the learning activities and assessing their personal progress results in higher retention
3. High levels of student engagement in clubs, organizations, sports, etc. (co-curriculars) results in higher retention
4. Quality service and cordial treatment of students in all areas of the university results in higher retention
5. Close working relationships between students and faculty members result in higher retention
As complete the first year and a half of the master academic plan, I’d like to remind everyone of a few efforts we have made within academic affairs to insure long term financial sustainability at BSU. These efforts are led by BSU faculty and staff, and we are very grateful for their willingness to do those things that lead us where we need to be. I have pasted in the MAP goal area related to financial sustainability and will insert comments where applicable.
With the upcoming legislative session, MnSCU will seek a $142M funding request which includes another two years of tuition freeze. We need that funding.
Even if that request is granted, we need a small increase in enrollment to meet our next fiscal year budget…in any combination of new student admits, transfer admits, and/or retention of returning students. A flat enrollment or decline in enrollment will not allow us to meet FY 2016 budget needs under our current model.
Therefore, the work to enroll and retain students and to address the below is how we in academic affairs do our part to contribute to the university being financially sustainable. It doesn’t mean that other changes will not have to be made at BSU in the future…other areas at BSU must also meet budget expectations.
In addition to the below, there are several items in the other goal areas that speak to financial sustainability and some hard realities we need to face now rather than later. Not all of this applies to academic areas, but here are some of those realities from my perspective:
1. We need to increase enrollment about 2% a year until we are at about 850 new first year students annually (based upon current retention rates). This can be done by a combinations of ways as well…increasing retention for example.
2. Our class size average needs to be between 23 and 25 (600 SCH’s generated annually by each FTE faculty member). The current 21 to 1 student to faculty ratio helps us reach those levels.
3. We need to keep our majors at 60 credits on average and insure that students can complete a degree in 4 years.
4. We could provide more credit for prior learning, online course sections and programs for place bound adults, accelerated online/hybrid courses/programs for place bound adults, closer articulations with two year colleges, a free MOOC for anyone interested in BSU online programs as an initial path into our programs (and give credit for it), a free ground course for community members that is for credit and designed to ease the fear of university classes for adults…we don’t serve the working adult population as well as we could.
5. We need to continue building out programs at the BSU center we are developing in the twin cities as well as offering more working adult-based cohorts off campus.
6. Our residential campus environment must be exemplary and engage students over the weekends…they need a reason to stay here instead of going home every weekend; and that may include workshops and hands on labs, etc., not just residential life activities.
7. We will need to continue offering more scholarships to potential students (tuition discounting via scholarships), especially to highly qualified students. The campaign will provide us with this ability…already is.
8. We need to make decisions about what we can continue to do and not do…we no longer can afford everything we have done in the past or now do.
9. Smart departments will engage in actively recruiting students to their programs and link with admissions closely on what they can be doing.
There are more…and many have been shared before in blog posts and campus forums. Below are some others:
II.1 Financial Sustainability
Due to reductions in state aid, BSU is moving away from dependence upon state funding and towards increasing dependence on tuition and external funds. Therefore, we must pursue new budgeting models and implement programmatic changes that recognize that reality. To begin that process, we will strategically allocate all future faculty and staff positions in Academic Affairs to support the master academic plan and expect that, whenever possible, future faculty positions be interdisciplinary. We also expect that faculty members hired into those positions are both willing and able to contribute to the liberal education of our students, both on-ground and online. Finally, we anticipate that new faculty lines will primarily come from expanding the 80/20 program model, providing accessibility to BSU programs for new student populations.
II.1.1 Curriculum and Delivery
1. Explore development of competency based programs and expansion of prior learning assessment. WE NEED A DEPARTMENT TO PILOT A CBE MODEL FOR BSU. NO ONE HAS STEPPED UP TO DO THIS YET. WE ARE USING PLA, BUT IT IS ON A LIMITED BASIS. AGAIN, DEPARTMENTS WILLING TO STEP UP AND PROVIDE A MODEL FOR GREATER USAGE OF PLA IS NEEDED.
2. Insure that all BSU liberal education requirements can be fulfilled for BSU online students by offering an adequate number of online BSU liberal education sections each semester. WE DO HAVE ENOUGH COURSES ONLINE TO MEET ALL GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS, BUT ADDITIONAL SECTIONS OPENED WOULD FILL. WE DO NOT OFFER ENOUGH TO MEET STUDENT DEMAND.
3. The size of all BSU majors will be limited to 60 semester hours unless state standards, accreditation rules, or data from the assessment of student learning justifies exceeding 60 semester hours. The intent is to ensure that majors are large enough to address intended student learning outcomes, but small enough, when feasible, to allow students to earn additional credentials. THIS HAS BEEN WORKED ON BY SOME DEPARTMENTS, AND WE ARE CONTINUING TO REVIEW PROGRAM SIZE.
4. Graduate and undergraduate programs will become as financially sustainable as possible. The following indicators will serve as evidence of financial sustainability. These indicators are goals that will also become part of the five year program review process:
a. A minimum of 25 students FYE per faculty member. WE REDUCED THE STUDENT/FACULTY RATIO TO 21 TO 1 LAST YEAR FROM 23 TO 1 THE PREVIOUS YEAR. 21 TO 1 IS COMPARABLE TO OUR PEER INSTITUTIONS.
b. Average enrollment = or >15 in upper division major courses (*exceptions-private lessons/independent study courses); average enrollment = or >12 for graduate courses.
c. Number of annual graduates within a major, or within a stand-alone minor: minimum UG of 10; 6 Grad.
5. Whenever possible, graduate programs will be delivered under the 80/20 budget model (see definitions page) and graduate programs, residential or distance-based, will need to demonstrate: THIS IS NOT BEING DONE FOR ALL GRADUATE PROGRAMS. THE MBA IS UNDER THIS MODEL
a. Financial sustainability based on class size, number of graduates, and cost study data.
b. Attainment of learning outcomes for graduate students.
c. Graduate programing that meets University and HLC standards that require 50% of courses in a graduate program be designed specifically for graduate work (6000 level or above less the thesis, research paper, or capstone credits).
d. Quality of instruction in undergraduate classes taught by graduate assistants.
6. Move from the current 16 week semester to a flexible 15 week semester for class scheduling. Doing so will promote the following: WE HAVE DONE THIS
a. Additional time for engaging students in field work outside of class.
b. Additional time for faculty collaboration, planning, assessment, and course/program revision.
c. Additional time for professional development of faculty and staff.
d. Increased time for interim period experiences for students such as short courses, education abroad, etc.
e. On campus contractual duty days will not change for faculty or staff.
7. Expand the number of BAS degrees articulated with technical colleges and explore the development of a College of Applied Technology. SINCE WE ARE WORKING MUCH MORE CLOSELY WITH NTC, THIS IS MORE OR LESS ON HOLD AT THIS TIME.
II.1.2 New budget models
1. Explore moving the College of Business, Technology, and Communication to a responsibility centered budgeting model (see definitions). THIS WAS TALKED ABOUT LAST SPRING, BUT AGAIN, WITH OTHER PRIORITIES AT THE MOMENT IT IS ON HOLD.
2. Increase the percentage of institutional funds allocated to instruction, linking growth to such increase over the next 3 years. This will include a careful assessment of staffing needs. REDUCING THE STUDENT TO FACULTY RATIO AND FILLING MAP GROWTH POSITIONS FOR YEAR ONE HAS HAPPENED.
3. Implement new partnerships that jointly fund new initiatives and programming for the university. THIS HAS HAPPENED LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY, AND THERE ARE SEVERAL EXAMPLES.
1. Organize a Strategic Enrollment Management Planning Committee made up of academic affairs and student development faculty, staff, and administrators. The committee will be charged with: updating and implementing the existing strategic enrollment management plan, providing recommendations for data-driven enrollment planning, and providing recommendations for recruiting, retaining and graduating students. COMMITTEE IS WORKING ON THE FINAL DRAFT OF THE SEMP.
II.1.4 Reducing costs, recognizing service, and providing flexibility
1. Reduce costs to students for textbooks and related learning materials by 50%. MOVING ALONG WITH THIS VIA SEVERAL OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS.
2. Recognize exemplary service to students by faculty and staff. NOT FORMALIZED, BUT INFORMALLY WE ARE DOING THIS.
3. Promote and support increasingly flexible course scheduling for students. This will include four year course rotations in ISRS for all academic programs. WE ARE CLOSE TO HAVING THIS IN PLACE.