By Jasmine Williams
Florida A&M University’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee recently approved a four-year graduation rate improvement plan.
The plan, recommended by FAMU’s administration to the Board of Trustees (BOT), is to improve the four-year graduation rate in order to strengthen and enhance academic services. The university wants to focus on the students’ financial, academic, policy, and curricular incentives.
“We all collectively last year spent a lot of time developing our work plan, and the board, as our groundsmen, made sure that this document aligns with our strategic plan,” said Dr. Maurice Edington, VP for strategic planning, analysis and institutional effectiveness.
FAMU’s new academic plan will provide full-time professional advisors, expand the number of living-learning communities, enhance tutoring and provide peer mentoring services.
The university has been focusing on a six-year graduation rate, but now they are requiring undergraduates to complete college in four years. They also plan to monitor incoming freshmen to ensure that their academic work is on track. For example, they will implement a summer plan that will ensure that all students are ready for their sophomore year.
FAMU also will work on financial funding for undergraduates. According to the accountability plan structure, the university will increase academic advisement by hiring up to 25 new full-time professional advisors. FAMU plans to increase undergraduate financial aid availability by engaging in land-grant initiatives. Also, there will be financial incentives for students who are not on scholarship but maintain a 3.4 GPA or better to get a full scholarship funded by FAMU.
According to Dr. Carl Goodman, associate provost for undergraduate education, “The administration wants to strengthen the financial literacy program to reduce our student debt.”
FAMU’s administration wants to have everyone on campus involved and onboard with this new plan because not only does it help the students, but it also helps the university overall.
“Our students are very competitive when they realize a lot is at stake. I would suggest that we do something to make sure our students are informed about how their university ranks among others regarding these performance metrics,” said Trustee Dr. Bettye Grable.
Student Government Association (SGA) President David Jackson emphasized the importance of getting students invested in the plan. “I’ll talk to my people with SGA and work with them to create some type of competition between us and other schools so that our students can have that drive to work harder and perform better.”
Dr. Goodman proposed that the financial literacy rate program, which helps students reduce debt, was asked to be strengthened.
According to Goodman, the student loan default rate decreased to 12.6 percent this year; last year it was 18.9 percent and the previous year it was 13.6 percent.
Goodman discussed using academic coaching for at risk students whose grade point average falls below 2.4. Students with a low GPA may be placed on academic suspension, probation or warning.