The Campus Retention Advisory Committee is focusing this year on First-Year Experience (as well as Gatekeeper/Bottleneck Courses) in a collaborative effort across all the colleges and support units to improve undergraduate student success rates at UK. As part of that effort, a new subcommittee for the First-Year Experience (FYE) has been created to focus on addressing achievement gaps between different demographic groups in the UK undergraduate student population.
The Division of Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and the Office of Institutional Diversity partnered to create an intentional outreach effort for freshmen students who are first generation, an underrepresented minority, or a recipient of a federal Pell grant. Called LINK UP, the initiative leverages existing campus resources to reach out to targeted students.
“Our goal is to help non-scholarship students establish a connection to campus,” Matthew Deffendall, Director of First Generation Initiatives and a member of the LINK UP Task Force, told us. In addition to Matthew, the task force consists of Toni Thomas (CARES), Jeff Spradling (Robinson Scholars), Lydia Wims (Student Support Services), Lauren Goodpaster (New Student and Parent Programs), Grace Hahn (Director of Student Engagement in Student Involvement), JoLynn Noe (Planning and Financial Operations Director in Enrollment Management), Dr. Bethany Miller (Director, Retention and Student Success in UGE) and Dr. Ben Withers (Associate Provost, UGE).
According to Dr. Miller, this fall more than 1,750 Fall 2014 cohort students are members of one of the three targeted subgroups: first-generation college-going (1G), under-represented minority (URM), or Pell grant recipient. The list of 1,750 students was compared against the high school readiness index and college targeted sub-cohorts (the 700); as a result, a distinct group of 384 students were identified for additional outreach via phone calls and intrusive secondary advising through one-on-one appointments, midterm grade checks, and inclusion in programs and workshops previously provided to a limited number of scholarship recipients through the aforementioned programs. Incentives for participation include a book scholarship at the end of the term.
Matthew Deffendall told Dr. Miller about the work of the task force: “If we can help at least one student then our effort was worthwhile because retention is not any one person’s job, it is team effort essential to the culture and climate we create on campus.”