Learning to a Greater Degree

| March 29, 2013
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The University of Central Missouri has implemented a “Learning to a Greater Degree Contract” with its students.  Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with UCM President Chuck Ambrose:

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The Board of Governors approved the new plan March 21st.  The purpose is to help more students complete their degrees in a timely manner.

One of the initiatives is a second-year residence requirement.  Ambrose said this has been shown to improve graduation rates by eight percent.

“There’s an academic component that we know really can help students be successful and stay in school and graduate.  There’s a co-curricular, an engaged learning component that, we know if you get involved in college outside the classroom, the more likely you are to stay in school and get you degree.  And then there’s this full experience.  The cumulative effect of those two things coming together,” said Ambrose.

The changes will take effect with 2013’s Freshman class.

Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend one of two campus forums on the contract.  Those will be held Wednesday, April 10th from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in Hendricks hall and Tuesday, April 16th from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. in Elliott Union 240.

Press Release from the University of Central Missouri

WARRENSBURG, MO (March 22, 2013) – Signifying a further commitment to a quality higher education experience focused on graduating more students on time, the University of Central Missouri is implementing The Learning to a Greater Degree Contract.

The contract concept, which includes among many initiatives a new second-year residency requirement, was presented by UCM President Charles Ambrose and approved by the Board of Governors when it met on campus March 21. It becomes effective for the fall 2013 semester for entering first-time freshmen.

“The concept is simply a partnership for degree completion that outlines specific commitments by students and commitments by the university that helps ensure a student’s ability to finish a baccalaureate degree on time,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “Serving as a tool, the contract includes curricular, co-curricular and institutional initiatives that are directly aimed at student success. These initiatives will also greatly further enhance the value of a UCM degree and benefit students the rest of their lives.”

Speaking about a campus-wide focus on student success, the president noted that progress toward degree attainment depends on students who are committed to taking an adequate number of college credits each semester and maintaining regular class attendance, which national research shows is a strong predictor of their ability to complete a degree. The Learning to a Greater Degree Contract incentivizes students to average 15 credit hours per semester, follow a more focused course schedule for at least the first two semesters, and regularly attend class.

Proactive advisement is also essential to student success. While students will be expected to see their academic advisor at least once a semester, the university’s commitment to students includes ensuring advisor loads are reasonable and consistent, implementing eAdvising, obtaining additional tools that complement advising, creating an advisement infrastructure that fosters strong communication with students, and also helping students to enter majors as early as possible.

Co-curricular initiatives will enhance the student experience at UCM. The university will provide opportunities for students to be engaged in a variety of experiences outside the classroom so they graduate with a student engagement portfolio that details their involvement in campus organizations and service opportunities that further enhance the value of their UCM degree.

“This concept enables UCM to reaffirm its commitment to providing students with experiences that go well beyond the classroom and promote their personal and intellectual growth,” said Deborah Curtis, provost and chief learning officer. “Paired with this UCM commitment to students is an expectation that students will demonstrate their own sense of responsibility to engage in the actions outlined in the contract. This will better prepare our students for a lifetime of service.”

Considering national research indicating strong retention and academic performance by students who live on campus, UCM will extend its residency requirement from one year to two years. According to the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International, there are more than 90 public and private colleges and universities across the United States that currently have such a requirement, including five Missouri public and private colleges and universities.

Institutional initiatives will create a university environment that supports a growing campus student population. Among such efforts, the university will build a new 320-bed state-of-the-art mixed-use residential and retail facility, which is expected to open in the fall of 2015. It will commit to providing more opportunities for students on campus that include dining, recreational, and other experiences that are suited to a “24/7” student population, while also keeping tuition, room and board costs as low as possible for students.

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