First- to second-year retention rates increase, provost introduces new initiatives

A student walks in front of Cherry Hall on Feb. 22.

Cassady Lamb

Retention rates of freshmen enrolled in the Fall 2018 semester to the Fall 2019 semester increased from last year’s rates, according to an email sent out by Cheryl Stevens, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, on Tuesday morning.

The current WKU fall-to-fall retention rate is 70.3%, a 2.1% increase from 2017’s retention rate of 68.2%.

Underrepresented minority students had an 18.5% lower retention rate than non-minority students, according to the email. 

The retention rate for freshmen minority students was 55.4% compared to 73.9% of freshmen non-minority students. 

In the email, Stevens pointed out the disparity in underrepresented minority student success in foundational courses which impact retention. In an effort to improve retention across the board she expressed a commitment to providing professional development to improve instruction. 

“Our portfolio of student success practices a renewed focus on quality teaching – especially in gateway foundation and exploration courses,” Stevens said. “Data show that success in these courses directly impacts first to second year retention.”

Stevens announced a partnership between the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and WKU’s Academic Colleges to primarily focus on teaching practices. 

“Quality teaching is key to the success of our graduates and should continue to be a defining feature of the WKU experience,” Stevens said.

Ogden College of Science and Engineering had the highest freshmen Fall 2018 retention rates of any other first major college at 76.6%. This was followed by Potter College of Arts and Letters with a 73.6% rate. 

News reporter Cassady Lamb can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @lambp0p.