Metro State is renewing its commitment to meeting the needs of incoming freshmen with a re-energized First Year Success Program.
President Stephen Jordan and a number of other key administrators held a luncheon April 24 in the Tivoli Student Union to stress the importance of the College making the transition from high school to Metro State as smooth as possible for students. Providing first-time-to-college students an environment of academic and social support, he says, is at the heart of Metro State’s priorities.
“I do not believe there is anything that we are doing at our College right now that is more important than improving the retention, and ultimately the graduation rates, of the students that are coming to us as freshmen,” Jordan said.
Beginning this fall, the First Year Success Program will seek to serve 400 traditional-aged college students through 20 cohorts of 20 students each. The goal, over the next few years, is to prepare the College with the space, personnel and budgetary resources to serve every incoming freshman through the retention program.
Jordan broadly outlined his philosophy on how he and his administration will seek to accomplish the task. “We are going to need to ‘right size,’” he said. “We’re going to have to set some priorities about what is most important to this College.”
Jordan talked about the favorable future for building the Student Success Building in the wake of the recent student vote in support of a new, tiered fee to fund the construction. Located northwest of the Tivoli Student Union, the building will be the first in Metro State’s new neighborhood. According to Jordan, it is slated to house eight classrooms and all the student support services needed to operate the First Year Success Program from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (to read more about the building, go to http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/publish/building_twv6040109.shtml.)
“We have understood from day one that you can’t have a goal of every freshmen being part of a learning community if you don’t have any space,” said Jordan. “ … Two and a half years from now, [Metro State will have enough space so that] it is realistic that we can have first-year success for every freshmen.”
Linda Curran, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, talked about the evolution of the program from its beginnings roughly 10 years ago to its current state of vibrant promise. She also offered kudos to those faculty and staff who had worked hard on the program over the years.
“We are changing as an institution,” Curran said. “The students that we are serving and seeking to serve are also changing. Somehow or another, we have to get this program up and running and off to a strong start. I believe that it is, but we have to keep it going and we have to keep tracking what is changing.”
Curran also echoed Jordan’s commitment to providing the resources to begin and sustain the program.
“Resources are going to flow to this program,” says Curran. “… If there is money available for new faculty lines, it will be allocated with an eye to what is needed to teach general education in the first year. Primarily, that’s the first thing that is going to be looked at when we allocate faculty lines.”
Ultimately, Jordan says he hopes the College community is able to look back five to 10 years from now and see retention rates at 75 percent or better and graduation rates rising towards 60 percent. To strive for less, he says, is an unacceptable scenario.
“First-year success is going to be a core element of what we’re going to be committed to [in the future],” said Jordan. “We must all be dedicated to changing the results and the outcomes for our students. There is too much at stake for our community for us not to do that.”
Editor’s Note: Watch for next week’s @Metro piece for a more complete overview of the program and its many components.
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