TheBatt: On the Problem of Retention 9/9/03

New Position to Aid Student Retention
By Bart Shirley

Multicultural

Services is seeking to fill the position of assistant director, formerly known as coordinator of

student retention, who will be in charge of student success programs.

Student success

programs are efforts by the Multicultural Services office to aid all freshmen in their pursuit of

graduation, said Megan Palsa, assistant director of Multicultural Services. They offer a year-long

program that provides transitional help to new students.

“(The new administrator will)

look at all the data to see where we’re headed, ” Palsa said. Retention has long been a concern for

Texas A&M. Though 16 percent of the student body is composed of minority students, A&M still has

trouble shedding its homogenous image in the minds of prospective students, said Mark Weichold,

associate provost for undergraduate programs and academic services.
“Historically, from retention

and graduation rates, students of color are lower,” Palsa said.

Minority students are

statistically more at risk than white students of never crossing the stage at Reed Arena, Palsa said.

Sixty-five percent of minority students entering A&M eventually graduate, compared with 77 percent of

white students.
“Clearly, there’s no one answer,” Weichold said. “Some of the answers are not

just academic. It’s going to take the collaboration of many offices on

campus.”

Weichold said his office is working to get an indication of students who are

at risk for not returning for their sophomore year. His office is using several assessment tools, such

as the CSI and the NSE, to make that determination. Many programs exist to assist in retention

alongside the Multicultural Services office, he said.

“The Multicultural Services has

been a big part of our retention efforts,” Weichold said.
The discrepancy in student retention is

also one of the reasons for the hiring of the new vice president for diversity, Dr. James A. Anderson,

Palsa said.

“Dr. Anderson will work with Multicultural Services,” said Rodney

McClendon, chief of staff. “He will (also) be working with all colleges in regard to retention.”

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