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Kent State president unveils effort to improve graduation, retention rates

By ANDREW bugel | staff writer Published: October 14, 2016 12:27 PM

Kent -- Kent State University is vowing to make sure the correct tools are in place to achieve the highest graduation rate possible.

President Beverly Warren introduced the Kent State Promise, which serves as the focal point to achieving that student success, during her annual State of the University address Oct. 13 in the Kent Student Center Kiva.

"This year, I have been thinking about how we become a more distinctive university through the re-imagination of our university's purpose and how we truly bring to life our vision of bettering society," Warren said.

She emphasized the Kent State Promise is not something that begins and ends just with financial support, but should be a more comprehensive approach to student success and fulfillment.

"The Kent State Promise is about academic quality with access and affordability as a trigger point to make sure that we are accepting students who need a chance to succeed and we are seeing them to the finish line," she said.

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Warren broke down some of the plans in place to fulfill the commitment.

"We must commit to the success of all students," she said. "Beginning this year, we are doing this through an academic program called DEEDS (Dynamic Engagement and Education of Diverse Students). DEEDS is a structure to support students from different cultures and race to be more successful through support structures. We're initiating a completion fund where a student who is in good standing, all they need to do is complete their senior year and we see them to the finish line (financially)."

Warren said the goal is to attend to a climate that helps all students succeed. KSU's goal is to achieve an 85 percent retention rate and a 65 percent graduation rate.

"Another thing we are doing with DEEDS that will be expanded to all students, is the start of this career services preparation in our students' freshman year," she said. "Often times, students wait until their senior year to look for jobs. In this program, we start with career aspirations in the freshman year. We build on that and help them get real-world experience so that by the time they reach their senior year, they are well-qualified and prepared to graduate. Our promise is not just financial. If we admit students, we are saying we have a promise to support them to the finish line. That's more of what the promise is about."

Warren also touched on KSU's "First-Year Experience" mission.

"We really find that if students try to figure out what they want to do with their lives before they figure out the major, they have a much better chance to succeed," Warren said. "What we are trying to do is have students figure out what will give meaning to their lives and motivate them. Then we place a major in that context. It's working already."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or abugel@recordpub.com

Twitter: AndrewB_RC

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