Southeast Selected to Participate in Missouri Completion Academy


by News Bureau on Monday, Jul. 22, 2013

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 22, 2013 – Southeast Missouri State University has been selected to participate in the Missouri Completion Academy Sept. 10-11 in St. Louis.

The Academy will provide Southeast and other participating institutions and their leaders with strategic planning support as they work toward large-scale, high-impact strategies to improve completion on their campuses.

The Academy is an intensive, two-day event to support internal planning and share best practices in important areas, such as reducing time to complete a degree, tackling developmental education and implementing flexible strategies for ensuring student success. Complete College America subject matter experts and facilitators will assist campus teams.

“The Missouri Completion Academy will be a valuable tool to help the state increase the number of citizens with a postsecondary degree or high quality certificate,” said Dr. David Russell, commissioner of Higher Education.

The Academy is supported in part by funding from Complete College America and organized by the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Complete College America is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to working with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students, says the Missouri Completion Academy is important as a part of a larger nationwide effort to increase the proportion of Americans with high quality degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year degree is 38.7 percent. However, 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2020. To reach the goal by 2025, the nation must produce 62 million high-quality degrees and credentials over the next 12 years, she said.

Below added that between 2008 and 2018, new jobs in Missouri requiring postsecondary education and training will grow by 86,000 while jobs for high school graduates and dropouts will grow by 34,000. Between 2008 and 2018, Missouri will create 898,000 job vacancies both from new jobs and from job openings due to retirement. Of these job vacancies, 523, 000 will be for those with postsecondary credentials, 287,000 for high school graduates and 88,000for high school dropouts, she said. Fifty-nine percent of all jobs in Missouri (1.8 million jobs) will require some postsecondary training beyond high school in 2018.

Southeast was selected to participate in the Missouri Completion Academy after submitting a campus self-assessment application last spring. The Missouri Department of Higher Education used the self-assessment to evaluate the University’s readiness and capacity for implementation. In the self-assessment, the University outlined its completion goals, data used to evaluate student progress, existing strategies to retain and graduate students, and the institution’s commitment to improving completion rates, Below said.

Southeast aspires to retain 75 percent of its first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students, to graduate 50 percent of this cohort within six years from Southeast, and to graduate 60 percent of the cohort within six years from any Missouri public institution, she said.

“Southeast is very close to meeting these aspirational goals and is committed to helping students reach their goal of earning a college degree,” she said.

Below is chairing Southeast’s team participating in the Missouri Completion Academy. Other team members are Trent Ball, associate dean of students and director of student retention; Dr. Wayne Bowen, professor and chair of the Department of History and director of University Studies; Dr. Chris McGowan, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture; Michele Tapp, director of Academic and Career Advising; Karen Walker, director of Financial Aid Services; Dr. Bruce Skinner, assistant vice president for student success and director of Residence Life; and the assistant provost for institutional research and academic assessment.

Team members will finish the Academy with a written action plan. Participating teams will be given opportunities in subsequent months to discuss progress in implementing their action plans, Below said.

The need to improve completion on college campuses is compelling, according to Complete College America. Between 1970 and 2009, undergraduate enrollment in the United States more than doubled, while the completion rate has been virtually unchanged. Progress has been made on giving students from all backgrounds access to college, but the all-important job of helping them achieve a degree has not been finished, according to the organization. Counting the success of all students is an essential first step. The organization says the country must move with urgency to reinvent American higher education to meet the needs of the new majority of students on college campuses, delicately balancing the jobs they need with the education they desire.