I am pleased to share the final report of the Task Force on Retention and Graduation chaired by Chris Haufler, professor and chair of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. I want to thank the members of this task force for their work on this issue that is challenging KU and as well as other universities across our country.
This task force was responsible for assessing current retention and graduation patterns and to consider factors that impact student retention and ultimately student graduation. Almost 80 percent of new freshmen students return to KU for their second year. Other AAU universities with similarly qualified students retain 85 to 90 percent. Our four-year and six-year graduation rates are lower than desired. The goal is to improve both retention and timely graduation. I am impressed with the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the task force in their recommendations for both fundamental changes and instrumental changes to improve these metrics. We know we attract talented students and we need for them be successful at KU.
Fundamental changes to our undergraduate educational experiences will include examining and refreshing the curriculum and redesigning course experiences to address 21st century challenges. The redesign of course experiences need to emphasize more experiential learning opportunities, include expanded roles for students in research, address working and living in a global environment, provide opportunities for developing capacities for leadership and citizenship, and enhance ethical reasoning. I have asked Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor-designate Jeff Vitter to examine the fundamental changes recommended and strategically address issues with the deans and the faculty.
These fundamental changes will be complemented by the specific instrumental changes outlined in the report that provide students, faculty and the university as a whole with tools, policies and practices designed to address specific challenges.
Our success in this endeavor will require the commitment and involvement of faculty, staff and students. I have asked Chris Haufler to serve this coming year as a special advisor to the provost to guide and monitor the implementation of these recommendations.