Mesa State board eyes freshman retention rate

DENVER — The Mesa State College Board of Trustees on Thursday approved goals in a performance contract the college entered into with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in 2005.

The contract set goals in areas such as retention and graduation in an effort to increase the number of Colorado students pursuing a post-secondary education. The contract said dispute resolution with the commission may be necessary if the college fails to meet the contract.

The contract assumes Mesa State can fulfill the contract with state funding at least at the level it was for the 2003-04 fiscal year. Funding levels have fallen since then, however.

The contract set a goal for the college to increase the percentage of first-time freshmen retained by Mesa State or any Colorado school from 70 percent to 72 percent by Dec. 31, 2008. Mesa State met the goal in 2006 but failed to meet it in 2007.

The number of first-time freshmen who stayed at Mesa State, however, increased from 2006 to 2007.

“We were kind of in a downward spiral there for a bit with competing with the oil and gas industries,” said Carol Futhey, vice president of academic affairs.

Futhey said she thought the college had “turned a corner” with retention and that the slumping economy would encourage students to stay in school.

Mesa State instituted a number of initiatives to increase retention in areas such as advising and tutoring, Futhey said.

The college exceeded its goal to increase its six-year graduation rate from 30 percent to 34 percent.

Mesa State gained first-generation and high financial need students but lost those gains in 2006 and 2008, which it attributed to increased availability of energy-industry jobs, according
to the contract.

The contract said Mesa State maintained a quality faculty, and students had high pass rates on licensing tests, particularly in teacher education with a 100 percent pass rate in math, social studies and science, and a 98 percent pass rate in English.

“Three out of every four credit hours taught is delivered by full-time faculty at Mesa State,” said Patrick Doyle, vice president of finance.


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