Black Hills State University had the lowest retention rate among the state’s public universities in the most recent report, with only half of the freshman class returning the next year.
The report from the state Board of Regents shows that South Dakota State University in Brookings had the highest one-year retention rate among the six public universities. Seventy-six percent of new SDSU students in fall 2005 returned in 2006.
Systemwide, the retention rate was 68 percent. It was 74 percent for students who moved to a different public university after the first year.
Kay Schallenkamp, president of Black Hills State University, said the Spearfish campus has more nontraditional students, a population “that drops in and out” at times.
She said the university will improve its performance.
“That (50 percent) was probably the first number that jumped out at me,” she said. “We’re taking this pretty seriously. … Our retention rate will not be the lowest in the system.”
Tad Perry, the Regents’ executive director, said student retention is one of the areas measured for performance funding, which gives a university extra money if it meets certain goals. An 8 percent increase in retention over four years is one mark that earns a campus extra money.
Retention is key because the easiest students to recruit should be those already in the system, Perry said.
On a more global scale, “we cannot do what we need to do to increase the number of South Dakota residents with college degrees if we don’t keep students in school,” he added.
Retention rates, based on freshmen in the 2005-06 school year who returned to the same school for the 2006-07 year: South Dakota State University, 76 percent; School of Mines and Technology, 74 percent; University of South Dakota, 69 percent; Dakota State University, 63 percent; Northern State University, 56 percent; Black Hills State University, 50 percent.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com
– Associated Press
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