UMSL students in class

(Photo by August Jennewein)

Improving student retention plays a major role in the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ strategic plan to award more degrees. So it was a pretty big deal when the campus broke its record for first-to-second-year retention this year with 80 percent. UMSL’s continuous retention improvement since 2009 caught the attention of the U.S. Education Delivery Institute.

EDI named UMSL a 2014 IDEA recipient. IDEA stands for Inspired Deliverologist Expert Awards.

UMSL earned the award for successfully integrating the campus community into the Access to Success agenda, which involves leaders from academic and student affairs in actions and routines that improve student retention. UMSL also met or exceeded its annual access and success goals for low-income freshmen and underrepresented minority freshmen and transfer students.

According to UMSL’s strategic plan, UMSL has a goal of increasing graduating students by 20 percent between 2013 and 2018.

“We want to cut the achievement gap in half,” said Judith Walker de Felix, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school at UMSL. “Retention will help us ensure we have enough students in the pipeline to help achieve that goal.”

UMSL grew its retention numbers through increased usages of formal transition programs (Bridge and orientation programs, FYE courses, etc.), academic support services (such as formal study groups and tutoring labs), academic planning and advising, need-based financial aid and work-study programs, and mentoring programs.

“EDI has helped us initially focus our efforts on that singular goal: doing what it takes to retain our students,” Walker de Felix said. “We can then build on our increased retention through additional strategies in our quest to attain student success at UMSL.”

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

Eye on UMSL: Walk about

Oluchi Onyegbula, a psychology major and co-president of the Able-Disable Partnership, leads an accessibility walk Thursday on the UMSL campus.