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Hitting the road: NMSU provost reports on university's retention, graduation success

William Flores, executive vice president and provost for New Mexico State University, has been invited to a national media conference to discuss the university's success in retaining and graduating students.



William Flores, NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"NMSU has shown increased success in not only getting students enrolled, but also in keeping them in school and helping them remain on the road toward graduation," said Flores, who has been with the university since 2001. "There remains room for improvement, but I am confident in the measures we have in place to ensure student success."

Flores will be among the featured speakers at the annual Seminar for Higher Education Reporters in Phoenix on Nov. 17-19. The gathering is being organized by the Hechinger Institute on Education and Media Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

The provost will be part of a panel discussing the topic, "Dropping Out of College: Why It Occurs and What Can Be Done." He was selected to address the gathering of higher education writers, editorial writers and editors from large U.S. publications because of his expertise and experience in student retention.

"It is an honor to be selected to speak on this issue which presents an ongoing challenge for NMSU and universities and colleges across the country," Flores said. "This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how other institutions are handling retention, while also sharing how we are finding success in this area."

The retention rate at NMSU for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking freshmen increased almost five percent, from 71 percent in Fall 2005 to 75.6 percent for Fall 2006.

"To have an increase of one percent is a huge accomplishment, so to have such a large jump is a testament to the hard work of the faculty, staff and students," he said. "We are proud of the increase, but there is still more work to be done."

Flores will highlight several innovative programs at NMSU that have improved student retention, including creation of Living/Learning Communities in residence halls and supplemental instruction, which adds peer-led workshops and study groups to certain courses.

"By doing this, we have improved pass rates over three years," he said. "Previously in these courses, 70 percent of students received a D, F or withdrew from the class. Now, 70 percent of students have pass rates of C or better. That's a fantastic improvement."

The university is also currently undergoing a self-study, which is part of the accreditation process from the Higher Learning Commission. Flores said the study is about more than ensuring the university meets standards in areas of teaching and improving student learning.

"This will be a working document, a guide," Flores said. "We are writing this, not just for the HLC, but for NMSU. It's part of our efforts to make NMSU better for the students."

The study also is part of the Foundations of Excellence initiative, a comprehensive, guided self-study and improvement process that enhances the ability to realize goals for learning, success and persistence for first-year students.

"As a land-grant institution, it is our mission to provide higher education for everyone in the state of New Mexico and provide them with the tools and resources to be successful," he said.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/flores_bill.jpg.
CUTLINE: William Flores, NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Victor Venegas, Broadcast/Media Coordinator
November 17, 2006
(505) 646-6528 or vvenegas@nmsu.edu