Campus: CSU Stanislaus -- September 28, 2005

National Study Rates University High For Student Success

California State University, Stanislaus is one of 12 campuses cited in a national study for creating a campus culture that has helped improve student success and resulted in higher than predicted graduation rates.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), working with the National Association of System Heads and the Education Trust, identified aspects of campus culture and leadership that resulted in CSU Stanislaus and 11 other universities reporting high graduation rates.

Singled out in the national study along with CSU Stanislaus were Clemson University in South Carolina, City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, Louisiana Tech University, Montclair State University in New Jersey, Murray State University in Kentucky, Northwest Missouri State University, Truman State University in Missouri, University of Northern Iowa, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse and Virginia State University.

"This peer-review assessment speaks to the high quality of our educational offerings," said Dr. Hamid Shirvani, President of CSU Stanislaus. "Retention and graduation rates are key elements of success for a university committed to teaching and learning. This is the result of our committed faculty and staff."

The Graduation Rate Outcomes Project study found that what sets these campuses apart, and well above average, is the presence of a campus culture and leadership that values student success. Campus culture at these universities reinforces the belief that the students can and should succeed and projects a prevailing attitude that what is now being done can be done better and conveys mutually high expectations for students as well as faculty and staff, the report noted.

"The Graduation Rate Project adds significant new insight and understanding about student success," said Constantine W. (Deno) Curris, President of AASCU. "Improved graduation rates are possible when there is strong academic leadership and a commitment to student success is integrated into the campus culture."

Successful student retention factors noted in the study as part of a close and mutually reinforcing network of campus ties include residence life, frequent student-faculty contact and a rich range of extracurricular activities. Faculty-supported initiatives designed to create a learning community academic atmosphere and provide mentoring and support were singled out for contributing to student success at CSU Stanislaus.

"California State University, Stanislaus is honored to have been recognized by our peers nationwide for our work on student success," President Shirvani said. "We pride ourselves on our commitment to helping all students achieve, co-curricular efforts to engage students on campus and strong links between students and faculty."

Stacey Morgan-Foster, Vice President for Student Affairs, said the University enjoys a culture that encourages communication and joint problem solving in the area of student success.

"Faculty and staff genuinely care about students," she said. "Development of lifelong learners is a core value that permeates all levels of the University."

In its report, the nine-person AASCU study team described CSU Stanislaus faculty and staff as highly motivated and determined to "do what it takes" to succeed. Commitment to access, especially for first generation students at the culturally diverse university, contact with faculty and student connection to the campus through organizations and activities were cited as major components of the success at CSU Stanislaus.

"The result of campus culture, leadership initiative and organizational focus is that CSU Stanislaus has been well positioned to respond to system incentives to improve graduate rates and retention in ways that reinforced its mission," the report noted.

The six-year graduation rate for CSU Stanislaus students entering in 1996 (which was the year selected for study for all cohorts) was 51%, the third highest in the CSU system. The system-wide average that year was 41.6%. Furthermore, the campus recorded one of the highest graduation rates in the CSU for students receiving Pell Grants, typically indicative of the most financially needy students, with 51.9% graduating within six years for the 1996 cohort.

Overall, CSU Stanislaus consistently has placed in the top half of all CSU's in terms of freshmen graduation rates and overall retention rates. In 2004-05, the six-year graduation rate for students entering in 1999 was 51.1%; the freshmen to sophomore retention rate was 80%.

The Graduation Rate Outcomes Project was designed to determine why the 12 selected institutions were successful and to use this information to help other campus leaders develop formulas for improved student success. The study was conducted by teams representing more than 90 state colleges and universities.

AASCU is a higher education association that includes more than 430 colleges, universities and systems of public higher education throughout the United States and its territories.

Contact: Don Hansen, (209) 667-3997

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