Welcome to Arkansas State University!

News Article

Chancellor Damphousse Names 17-Member Commission on Completion to Raise Retention and Graduation Rates


JONESBORO – Urging the entire university community to join in with the initiative to raise student retention and graduation rates, Arkansas State University Chancellor Kelly Damphousse named a 17-member task force to spearhead the multi-faceted effort.

The Chancellor’s Commission on Completion is designed to support Damphousse’s commitment that Every Red Wolf Counts.

“The role of the Chancellor’s Commission is to serve as the ongoing university work group to ensure A-State’s steadfast commitment to this simple goal: the retention and persistence of more students at Arkansas State,” Damphousse said.  “In turn, if we retain more students, we graduate more students.”

In his address to the campus at the Reng Student Union Auditorium, Damphousse set the following goals for Arkansas State.

By fall 2020, retaining 85 percent of the fall 2019 freshman class (the Class of 2023)

By May 2023, graduation of 45 percent of the Class of 2023

By May 2025, graduation of 65 percent of the Class of 2023

Currently, Arkansas State’s first-year student retention rate is 72 percent, with a most recent four-year graduation rate of 36.8 percent and six-year rate of 45.6 percent.

“These are audacious goals, but we owe it to our students, their parents and the taxpayers of the state of Arkansas to make every effort to reach them,” Damphousse said.

Damphousse named Dr. Jill Simons as the chair of the 15-member commission.  Simons was recently promoted to associate vice chancellor for retention and completion.

“This will be a data-driven, solutions-oriented working group that meets weekly to create and deploy tactics to achieve our strategic goals,” Damphousse said.  “It will consider research literature, best practices at other institutions, national and local trends and A-State data as they propose policy changes and recommendations.”

One of the inaugural efforts of the Chancellor’s Commission is the launch of a special email account, PackSupport@AState.edu.

“Students that have any question, any concern, can email that address and we will respond by directing that need to the appropriate source on campus,” Simons said.  “This is a one-stop place for students to reach out.”

“From the literature, we know that this generation of students is community based, and we also know that like our mascot, the pack is important to the survival of all,” Damphousse said.  “We want to build persistence and resilience into each member of our Red Wolves pack.  To do that, we will need the all-hands-on-deck effort of everyone.

“This declaration of our intentions today is to rally the entire pack – faculty, staff and members of our local community – toward these goals.”

The commission will also have a web page attached to the Chancellor’s Office home page at AState.edu to track progress and to provide updates to the university community.

 “Student success is measured in many ways, but the ultimate measure of success is graduation,” Damphousse concluded.

Along with Damphousse and Simons, the members of the Chancellor’s Commission on Completion are:

  • Heather Brake, assistant director of residence life
  • Dr. Lance Bryant, associate dean and professor, College of Education and Behavioral Science
  • Dr. Carl Cates, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Communication
  • Terry Finney, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment services
  • Dr. Maurice Gipson, assistant vice chancellor for diversity
  • Dr. Anne Grippo, interim dean and professor, College of Science and Mathematics
  • Dr. Russ Hannah, associate vice chancellor for business and finance
  • Melissa Jackson, director of the Wilson Advising Center
  • Dr. Bud Kennedy, associate dean and professor, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology
  • Dr. Erin Lynn, academic advisor, Wilson Advising Center
  • Dr. Bill Smith, associate vice chancellor for marketing and communication
  • Martha Spack, director of the Leadership Center
  • Dr. Jim Washam, associate dean and associate professor, College of Business
  • Dr. Stacy Walz, assistant dean and associate professor, College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Dr. Karen Wheeler, senior associate vice chancellor, Division of Academic Affairs

# # #