Shenandoah University cited for efforts to change campus culture

^ Posted Feb. 3

Daily Staff Reports

Recently, the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment cited Shenandoah University's efforts for creating a student-centered culture that aids in improving retention.

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success Clarresa Morton noted in a news release that five years ago, Shenandoah's student retention remained consistent with national norms, but the school wasn't satisfied with that. Using the Foundations of Excellence model, Shenandoah conducted a self-study to identify areas for innovation an improvement. The model, developed by the John N. Gardener Institute, examines the viability of academic progress and focuses on improving services for first-year and transfer students.

As a result, the university made some changes, including establishment of the Office for Enrollment Management and Student Success, reshaping its Office of Student Life, adding new recreational programs, and refining classes and programs.

Services provided by the university's Wellness Center, Academic Enrichment Center and Writing Center were tweaked to help identify students in crisis and academic advising was a point of improvement, the release states.

The college is seeing results since the overhaul. In the release, Morton states the freshman to sophomore retention has increased from 69.8 percent in the fall of 2007, to 80.2 percent this past fall.

"It's well documented that a college education leads to a higher earned income and better quality of life for graduates," she said. "Our goal is to provide students with access to the programs and services they need to persist to graduation and take their places as leaders wherever they go."

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