University of Vermont

Student Success and Satisfaction

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Provost's Open Forum to Discuss
Increasing Student Success and Satisfaction at UVM

Tuesday, May 10th - 2:30 - 4:00 PM
Davis Center, Livak Ballroom

(desserts and refreshments will be served)

Background and Context | On-line Feedback Form (now available!)

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the findings of the student retention study, on current initiatives, and on the opportunities and priorities upon which we should focus as we move forward together to enhance the quality of the student experience at UVM. 

Since our time together next Tuesday is limited, we’ll be most productive if, prior to attending, you visit the student success website and review the reports of our retention consultants and the working groups that have been examining various aspects of student success and satisfaction.

For those who are unable to attend, you will be able to provide input by way of an on-line feedback form which will become available here after the open forum.

I recognize that this is a busy time.  We have scheduled the forum during an exam make-up block to minimize its impact on students and faculty.  We will be serving dessert and refreshments during the meeting and hope that if you can, you’ll take a break from exams and join us.

Jane E. Knodell, Provost

Background and Context:

Goal – Enhance the undergraduate student experience in and outside the classroom as measured by improving first to second year retention and persistence to graduation. 

Status–We are doing very well.  From retention consultant’s (Art & Science Group) report:

  • University of Vermont’s retention rates are very good and are holding steady and, among some groups, improving. This is especially impressive given current economic uncertainties and the pressures resulting from UVM’s enrollment growth.

  • Also, current retention rates are remarkable in that UVM enrolls a much higher percentage of out-of-state students than any other public university.

  • UVM’s success is due in large part to successful efforts made over the past several years to improve the quality of admitted students as well as the experience the University provides these students throughout their years at UVM.

Our Challenge–Effectively invest scarce resources to enhance the quality of the undergraduate student experience

Summary of Art & Science Group Findings:

Academic Experiences:

  • Students’ greatest dissatisfaction is with academic factors.

  • Dissatisfaction is greater among upperclassmen and students who have seriously considered leaving.

Social Experiences:

  • Students are most satisfied with non-academic experiences including Vermont, life in Burlington, and the welcoming nature of the UVM community.

  • At the same time, many students have low satisfaction with UVM residential facilities.

Value and Cost:

  • Students express dissatisfaction with the value of a UVM education. 
  • A relatively high percentage of students are under financial stress.

 Academic Advising:

  • Many students rely primarily on friends, students, and family – not their faculty advisor – for advice on academic matters.

  • Students who interact more frequently with faculty advisors have greater overall satisfaction.

  • Students are receptive to upperclassmen providing peer academic advising.

Engagement with Faculty:
Students want more opportunities to engage with faculty outside the classroom and more classes that promote meaningful interaction among students and professors. Students believe these initiatives would have a significant positive impact on their college experience.

Key Sub-Group Differences:

  • First-year student experiences and Senior Year
  • Students of color and White students
  • Out of state students and In-state students
  • Higher GPA/SAT Scores
  • Level of initial interest in UVM

Art & Science Group Recommended Strategies:

  • Campus Awareness Campaign to “Engage UVM”
    • Early touch points
    • Identify at-risk students
    • Peer Mentors
    • Engage with faculty early on
  • Integrate and enhance Career Services throughout 4 years
  • Develop protocols early-on to identify and support “at-risk and non-engaged” students
    • Mid-term warning system too late
    • Peer Mentor tracking
  • Gather info about students’ interests/goals and create touch points early in student experience to get them involved
  • Strengthen students’ introduction and exposure to academic opportunities
  • Enhance shared learning experiences – Current FYE Plans
  • Integrate current initiatives focused on engagement (TAP, TREK, RLC’s)
  • Identify highly motivated students and provide opportunities to engage with faculty – to improve academic quality and rigor

Current Student Success Initiatives & Engagement:

  • First Year Experience (FYE) Advisory Board
    • Adjust MTWL to become an Academic Alert System
    • Pilot Peer Mentor Program in the Fall
    • Offer co-curricular modules in conjunction with Peer Mentor Program
    • Reach out to faculty who teach first-year students to share best practices
      Identify and update first-year initiatives within each school and college
  • General Education Re-Envisioning Undergraduate Education at UVM
    • Foundation for a University-wide vision for undergraduate education
    • Proposal is based on desired outcomes for all UVM graduates
    • The outcomes can be achieved in a variety of ways, not limited to academic courses
    • Focus will be on improving the student educational experience
  • Residentially-Based Learning Communities
    • Revise marketing materials so that students are more aware of the spectrum of residential learning options at UVM
    • Recognize Dewey House for Civic Engagement as the fifth RLC
    • Enhance curricular options and opportunities for faculty involvement in residential communities
    • Increase the number of themed Residential Learning Communities
  • Student Employment
    • Institutional leadership Support for Student Employment
    • Creation of a Student Employment Coordinator Position
    • Program Development and Management
    • Creation of an Office of Student Employment
    • Establishment of a fund to strategically expand student employment


  • Everyone has a stake in providing an excellent education experience
  • Several good initiatives to enhance undergraduate education are already in place
  • We need to work together for visioning, planning, and effective implementation

Last modified May 10 2011 04:27 PM

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