Board of regents convene in Price
As the first week in September came to an end, the Utah Board of Regents convened at the College of Eastern Utah to conduct the panel's regularly scheduled business.
The regents visit was of particular interest to campus authorities as local higher education officials are in the midst of an attempted capital expansion and partnership study with Utah State University.
"It's always great when you have the opportunity to show off your campus," said CEU president Mike King during a Monday interview. "I feel the meeting went rather well, they saw all that we have to offer. It's a rare thing to have all the regents on our campus at once and I do think they came away with a much better understanding of what we are about here."
According to King, the regents approved CEU's master plan, but didn't present the report overall during the main session.
"They just moved it through and we didn't get to hear any comment," said King.
The regents ranked the college's proposal for a new fine arts center seventh on their list of proposed buildings and with another review to come from Utah state building board, King is skeptical about anything happening this year.
Last year, the state building board moved CEU's request from sixth on the regents rankings poll to 17th on the overall state list, according to the college president. And with Utah's track record of building no more than four higher educational facilities in one year, King's skepticism is well founded.
As a high note, the regents seemed very impressed with the college's retention data which was presented during the morning breakout committee session.
"Our numbers are well above the national average and it speaks well for our campus, we have a culture of caring here," explained King. "That culture keeps the students coming back."
Historically, the college has enjoyed a relatively high retention rate.
The most recent Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) report indicates a first to second year retention rate of 76 percent for full time students and 89 percent for part-time students," according to college data.
The committee presentation given by Del Beatty, CEU Dean of Students, outlined several initiatives used by the college to foster their retention program, including:
â¢Establishing a formal retention committee to regularly address retention issues.
â¢Continued emphasis on small faculty/student ratios.
â¢Having an engaged faculty consisting of club advisors and programs such as reaching out through food boxes.
â¢A maintained scholarship deferment program.
â¢A new USU partnered advisor.
â¢Encouragement of a more timely engagement in academics through an adjusted withdrawal date.
Beatty brought up defining differences between the college student of today and those of just 10 years ago.
"It's interesting to feel the difference between Gen. X kids of my generation who if 50 showed up to an orientation only two would bring their parents and the students of today who if 50 show up only two do not have their parents with them," quipped Beatty. "For the first time we are dealing with students who have more parents who attended college than did not."
The CEU dean stressed the importance of making a connection with the students, showing them they are not lost in the sea of higher education.
"We are strongly urging students to attend counseling before full withdrawal," said Beatty. "By doing this we have saved seven students so far and that is something we are very proud of."
After showing the regents the college's success he showed them the bill.
"We need money if we are to keep this kind of personal contact going, we are looking at needing anywhere from $50,000 to $65,000 for new personnel."
King who sat in on the meeting had similar feelings toward the college's success at keeping their students in school.
"Our retention rate has been high for several years now," he said. "I think they are staying because it's a good place to be. It's very personal."
And keeping it personal is something King is hoping to do. He reported that he should receive a research report concerning the CEU/USU study withing the next two weeks.
"Our hope has always been that the college will continue to meet the needs of its students. As for the merger it's still too early to tell what is going to be best for this community and the areas the college serves, but that is what we are looking at, what is the best way to meet the needs of those we serve," concluded King.