Retention Exercise and Innovation Grants

October 17, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

You will recall that on Opening Day we worked on the issue of retention, and that many good ideas emerged from the dialogue that day.

I am delighted to report that this work appears to be having immediate impact: Our enrollment numbers for this fall quarter show an increase in the numbers of students who have stayed in their classes through this point in the term. Our on-campus enrollment is now up roughly 2% from last fall.
The raw numbers are only a pale expression of the work itself, in which staff and faculty have been reaching out to students in many ways--providing guidance on course selection, directions across campus, pointers on where to find financial aid, and myriad small gestures that reassure students that we care deeply about their success.

Thank you all. Now the task is to look for ways to broaden and strengthen the work and assist students throughout the quarter and year.

To continue our work, we have reproduced the Opening Day suggestions regarding retention and arranged those suggestions around the several vignettes that sparked the conversation. These may be found at

At the heart of many of these proposals is the idea of taking personal responsibility for the success of students, whatever our role at the college. It might be a custodian reaching out to help a lost student find his way across campus, or a financial aid outreach staff member making sure someone knows they are eligible for help, or a faculty member asking if everything is okay with the student who missed class last week. Each one of us can do this work.

You may also recall that on Opening Day I announced that we had $50,000 available for new and innovative work for increased retention and persistence. At the Web site cited above, you will find an RFP form that invites teams of faculty and staff to propose projects, which in their judgment will improve the success and retention of students.

The guidelines are simple, as is the form. Two caveats: First, please don't ask for funding to expand what we're already doing. We just made a one-time 75% augmentation to every "B" budget on campus (the non-personnel, operating budgets for divisions and programs), so we have money for the expansion of what we do now. Second, please make sure you run your ideas past your dean or manager, to make sure you are not duplicating other proposals (or, to combine forces for similar ideas). I expect that most funding requests will be in the $3,000 to $6,000 range. The proposals are due to Tina Woo by Friday, Nov. 2. Click here for the form:

I look forward to hearing more of your excellent ideas for the retention of our students, ensuring that we at the college can assist them in achieving their goals.

Brian Murphy

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