CHASS Contributes to High Graduation Rates across Student Groups

By Stephanie Wejbe, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing


The May, 2004 report “A Matter of Degrees: Improving Graduation Rates in Four-Year Colleges and Universities,” issued by the Education of Trust named UCR as one of the high performance institutions in closing graduation gaps between various categories of undergraduates. Of particular attention, was the high graduation rate of Latino/a students compared to peer institutions. CHASS houses the majority of the Latino/a student population at UCR, and represents the university’s highest graduation rate across student groups.

UCR is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse campuses in the nation with a student body of over 14,000 which is 23% White, 22% Latino/a, and 41% Asian. The study shows that UCR graduation rates reflect equal distribution across groups, which is 65% for White/Caucasian students, 67% for Asian students, and 68% for Latino/a students.

CHASS houses the majority of UCR’s undergraduate student population and reflects similar distribution rates among the student groups studied. The College’s Spring 2004 racial and ethnic distribution shows Latino/a student as the second largest student group in the College (26.6%), following 32.93% Asian, with 22.13% White/Caucausian. The College also enrolls 6.92% of UCR’s African-American student population.

According to the Education of Trust report, graduation rates are largely affected by the quality and conduct of the institutions. “What colleges and universities do matters greatly when it comes to student success. Some institutions do an excellent job at making sure as many students as possible learn, thrive, and get their degrees.”

The success of many students in the College goes beyond classroom attendance and completing assigned material. Students who have a faculty mentor and/or work closely with faculty in and outside of the classroom have greater academic success. College faculty demonstrate dedication and invest time in their students by making themselves readily available in the classroom, and through office hours, and by encouraging communication and exchange to ensure that students succeed in their coursework, research, and fulfill long-term educational plans.

The faculty takes effective measures to promote growth in teaching in order to maximize the potential of student learning and success. Lawrence Rosenblum, the 2004-2006 Chair in Teaching Excellence, plans to introduce innovative programs to enhance teaching, particularly in establishing a website forum for CHASS teaching. Besides announcements of teaching workshops and mentorship opportunities, the forum will provide information and links on teaching technologies and teaching strategies. The forum will also provide background information on UCR undergraduates (e.g., upbringing, goals, values, extra-curricular responsibilities) to facilitate more effective teaching styles.

“Excellence through diversity,” has become a key principle of CHASS. The College is committed to excellence and its progression through diversity, by ethnicity and gender. The projection of diversity among student groups is also represented by the College’s diverse faculty. The College’s diverse academic community has led to recruiting close to 130 new faculty over the past four years from all over the nation as well as internationally, making it the largest faculty recruitment in CHASS history. The new faculty members who have joined the College have contributed a broad array of interests, representing significant diversity on the campus. Since 1999, diversity has accounted for over 36% of faculty appointments.

The College’s staff also plays a major role in promoting student progress towards graduation. According to Student Affairs Manager José Beruvides, “Research nationwide has demonstrated that the most positive link with success and progress toward a degree is a student’s choice of major. Recognizing the importance of the major, the CHASS Student Academic Affairs Office strives to ensure that students choose the appropriate major in a timely fashion. At the heart of our effort is the close monitoring of student academic performance and units earned toward degree. By monitoring academic performance, we can determine if a student is pursuing a major in which they will be successful,” Beruvides stated.

The Student Academic Affairs Office advises on college breadth requirements, enrollment and registration, provides answers regarding a student's academic progress, commencement and graduation requirements, and also advises the Pre-Business Program and the Undeclared Programs. The office assists students in academic difficulty, referring them when appropriate to other services such as the Assistance, Counseling & Encouragement (A.C.E.) Program.

CHASS Student Affairs has experienced tremendous benefits from introducing new technologies, simplifying many academic functions for students. The most significant advancement has been the online registration PIN distribution system. It allows students to retrieve their registration PINs conveniently saving students and staff valuable time. This new feature allows students and advising staff to concentrate their energies on matters of substance.

Another technological innovation has been the Student Data Warehouse, which generates reports on various populations of students including those with low or high GPAs, low or high units, and students in specific majors. The needs of these different populations can be more effectively addressed through this system. An e-mail function built into the database allows almost instant communication with students.

Next year, Student Academic Affairs anticipates further innovations in technology. Plans under development include new web modules, an online graduation application, an online major change form, and enhanced data gathering mechanisms. Beruvides added, “Overall, we will continue in our efforts to keep our students focused in a direction in which they will be successful and realize their greatest potential.”

CHASS Student Academic Affairs Office oversees advising for the entire College and collaboratively works with departmental student academic advisors. The office strives to keep departments informed of any policy or procedural changes that may affect their students or advising. The office provides support in the use of the student records system, and when necessary, provides departments with student data that they can use in serving their students.

Students seek their department advisors to be informed about their current status towards graduation. Department advisors assist students who have specific questions or concerns regarding their major and degree requirements. They also provide information for those students whose interests include a double-major or minor in another academic program.

Every member of the faculty and staff at the College is committed to quality undergraduate teaching and learning. CHASS’ diverse and committed faculty, academic programs, and student services such as departmental advising and the Student Academic Affairs encourage students to successfully complete their respective degree program.

To read the Education of Trust report please go to [need link] .If you would like to learn more about Student Academic Affairs services please visit their web-site at http://chassstudentaffairs.ucr.edu/

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