Improved U grad rates still miss goals

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2012 - 7:36 PM

Official cites progress but tells regents there's work to do.

A bigger share of University of Minnesota students are graduating in four years. But not enough to meet the university's goals.

About 58 percent of the class that started on the Twin Cities campus in 2008 graduated four years later. That's the highest four-year rate the university has seen and a vast improvement over a decade ago, when just 28.9 percent finished in four years.

But it's still lower than the 60 percent goal the university set for the campus years back.

The six-year graduation rate of 73.2 percent also lags its goal of 80 percent. The U beat its goal of having 90 percent of its freshmen stay on: About 91 percent of students who started in 2011 continued on to their second year.

The Board of Regents reviewed the figures at a committee meeting Thursday. The governing board has kept close tabs on the university's work to improve availability of classes and enhance students' experience, through new efforts such as Welcome Week.

"You'll note ... that we have not quite reached the target that you set," Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, told the board. "We have a bit of work to do here, but I think we're getting pretty close, especially with the four-year rate."

"Is it time ... to revisit the goals?" Regent David Larson asked.

"I have mixed feelings on that," McMaster said. "On the positive side, it would continue us to stretch toward improving these rates and improving the undergraduate experience. On the other hand, I don't want to discourage the progress we've made" by raising the goals before meeting them.

Leaders have upped targets for the U's individual colleges in recent years. The Carlson School of Management has the highest four-year graduation rate of the freshmen-admitting colleges. About 78.7 of students who began in that college in 2008 graduated in 2012.

That exceeds its goal of 70 percent.

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168 Twitter: @ByJenna

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