School Presidents Urged to Promote College Completion

By Chris Hassan
Posted February 06, 2013 01:00 PM

College presidents can play a role in increasing graduation rates.
College presidents can play a role in increasing graduation rates.

Over the course of their time in college, most students never cross paths with the president of their school. While this may be the norm at many institutions, there are those in the education sector who believe this needs to change.  They believe school leaders need to play a greater role in ensuring student success.

A Call for Action

On January 23, 2013, the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment issued a letter that called on leading college and university presidents to work toward preventing students from abandoning their studies before they have a chance to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, according to a press release. It is the commission's belief that through an increased focus on retention and completion, academic leaders may be able to ensure that students have better futures ahead of them.

"The strength of America's future depends on the ingenuity sparked by our college graduates," E. Gordon Gee, chair of the commission and president of The Ohio State University, wrote in the letter. "Now more than ever before, our nation needs leaders of higher education to recommit themselves to making college more accessible and, ultimately, more attainable."

The letter lays out several strategies that could ensure greater academic success among the student body. For example, providing credit for past learning, increasing support services for nontraditional students, finding ways to more efficiently deliver courses and creating a student-centered culture may all prove to be effective strategies.

Committed to Change

Many college leaders are serious about sparking positive change on the campuses they oversee. In fact, around 50 of them recently converged on Los Angeles, California, to attend an event presented by the American Council on Education and Pepperdine University, the Los Angeles Times reports. The meeting followed up on many of the points raised in the commission's letter.

"Presidents focus on the inflow but don't pay too much attention to what's happening on the back end," Andrew K. Benton, Pepperdine's president and the vice chairman of the commission, told the Times.

Both Benton and Gee used the meeting to once again highlight how important they feel it is for college presidents to take on a more personal role in transforming campus culture so that all members of the school community understand the importance of graduating.

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