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First-Year Student Retention Reaches Record Level


JONESBORO – Chancellor Kelly Damphousse set two important goals for his second year at Arkansas State University, and today at the annual Faculty Conference he was able to announce the achievement of a record-level of first-year student retention.

With less than a week before the opening day of classes for the fall 2018 semester, Arkansas State is on pace to have a 77.1 percent first-year retention rate.  If the current trend is maintained through the 11th day of the fall semester, it will break the fall 2014 record of 76.0 percent.

“All the credit for this first step goes to you, our faculty, and to the staff members working with you, and I am so very proud of what we have achieved together,” Damphousse told the assembly of A-State faculty members.  “It began with everyone pitching in, everyone believing that Every Red Wolf Counts.  We can say yes, here are the results.”

Whether or not all-time record is achieved, it is a dramatic change from one year ago when A-State’s 2016 first-year students were retained at only 72.8 percent in the fall 2017 semester.

Damphousse made special mention of a campus-wide task force that he appointed last fall to attack the retention problem, the Chancellor’s Commission on Completion (CCC).

“Dr. Jill Simons and her group of faculty, staff and administrators have had an impact on our students, and I feel confident that they can lead us to our ultimate goal of 85 percent retention of our first-year students by 2020,” Damphousse said.

Enhancing advising, working to remove obstacles for registration, creating new pathways for students to re-enroll, and creating new opportunity funds to assist with small financial needs are among the strategies identified and pursued by the CCC.

The chancellor’s other goal for the fall 2018 semester – increasing the number of incoming first-time, first-year students – also won’t be known until the 11th day class count.

“It looks promising, and again, I am thankful for each of your individual efforts to improve our recruiting,” Damphousse said.

Last year, Arkansas State set a record for fall enrollment with 14,177 students, but was actually down slightly in the number of first-time traditional students.

Enrollment numbers for most segments of A-State’s student population are looking up.

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