Provost Feinstein’s Message on Student Success Plan

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on May 5, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

For the past year, we have collaborated and gathered information from faculty, staff, students and other experts, to develop a data-driven campus-wide student success strategy with one goal: to significantly increase our retention and graduation rates for all students while improving the quality of their educational experience. Our 57 percent six-year and 10 percent four-year graduation rates, and a double digit underrepresented minority student graduation rate gap are not acceptable. We owe it to our students, their families, taxpayers, employers and our community to improve.

We have developed a plan to accomplish this. We encourage you to review “SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks,” which highlights our process in developing the plan and details of each pillar.

Public universities across the nation are striving to improve graduation rates, and provide an educated workforce. It’s a huge challenge, and now, SJSU is on the road to a meaningful solution on our campus. We look forward to working with you to enhance the success of every SJSU student.

Sincerely,

Andy Feinstein, Provost, and Reggie Blaylock, Vice President for Student Affairs

Provost Feinstein’s Message on Why Students Leave SJSU

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Dec. 11, 2015.

Dear campus community,

As we work toward increasing graduation and retention rates at San Jose State, we have a new report that offers some insights into why some students leave before completing their degrees. The report, “Why Do Students Leave? A Study of Student Departure from San Jose State University,” was conducted during summer and fall 2015 by Dr. Michael Cheers, Dr. Rona Halualani, Dr. Lisa Oliver and Dr. Marcos Pizzaro.

I would like to thank these four professors for their work on this valuable report, the first of its kind on our campus.  The goal of this study was to learn more about the experiences of SJSU first-time freshmen who have either stopped out (meaning they left SJSU with the intention of returning in the future), dropped out or are persisting at a different institution.

The percentage of first-generation students, underrepresented minorities in particular, who left SJSU after attending for just one year was significantly higher than the overall population.  Using telephone and online surveys, and online focus groups, the researchers discovered four recurring factors that influenced students when they made the decision to leave. These factors include:

  • Difficulty in attaining classes
  • Precipitating event or crisis point in a student’s life, and a perceived lack of assistance from staff, faculty or advisors
  • Feeling no connection to the campus
  • Difficult encounters with advisors

The full report are available online. I encourage you to review the data now and attend forums in the spring when the team will further discuss the results of the study.

I invite you to work with us as Academic Affairs continues to collaborate with the campus community to develop a student success strategic plan. The information from this study and your input will be integral in addressing the needs of all of our students.

Sincerely,

Andy Feinstein
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Provost Feinstein’s Message on Graduation Rate Report

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 20, 2015.

Dear campus community,

I am pleased to announce that graduation rates of SJSU undergraduates continue to improve. As you will see, we have both good news and challenges to address. Your input will be important as we move forward.

Six-year and four-year graduation rates

The six-year baccalaureate rate reached 56.8 percent for our fall 2009 freshmen cohort, up five percentage points over last year’s rate.

As with other campuses in the CSU system, graduation within four years remains the exception rather than the norm. Only 10 percent of the freshmen who started in fall 2011 graduated within four years. Few students enter college ready or, for a variety of reasons, cannot take the course load required to graduate within four years. Going forward, summer programming will allow more students to start the fall semester on an even footing with their college-ready peers. In addition, the campus has plans to support all undergraduates by allowing students to increase their average unit load so they can take courses needed to complete their degree.

Transfer graduation rates

At the same time, the three-year rate for transfers from California Community Colleges rose to 58.4 percent this year from 56.9 percent last year, while the four-year rate for transfers held steady at 69.6 percent. Among both freshmen and transfers, SJSU is well on its way toward surpassing the 2025 graduation goals set forth for the campus by the CSU Chancellor’s Office earlier this year.

Underrepresented minority (URM) graduation rates

While we continue to improve graduation rates for underrepresented minority (URM) students (specifically African-American, Hispanic and Native American) with rates up nearly 2 percent from last year, the new data tells us we still have significant work ahead. Although both URM and non-URM graduation rates improved, the rate of improvement was much higher among non-URM students, increasing the graduation difference for URM students from 12 percent last year to 17 percent this year.

Student Success Task Forces

The news about our growing underrepresented minority achievement gap is disheartening. We must work together to reverse this. As a start, the African American Student Success Task Force and Chicano/Latino Student Success Task Force have introduced a number of community-building events and academic activities, including group study sessions with opportunities to meet with an academic advisor, graduate school workshops, and resiliency workshops. This semester, Student Academic Success Services has expanded its early alert system to all underrepresented students to identify and assist those who are struggling in their classes.

Also happening this year, members of the task forces and other researchers at SJSU are studying factors that influence persistence of URM students to better understand why some leave. This in-depth research will help to inform the actions SJSU must take to retain and graduate our underrepresented minority students.

Moving forward

We need to do much more. As a start, we are developing a strategic plan to support student success broadly across the campus. All of the colleges have also developed ambitious graduation rate goals, including enhancements in URM degree attainment rates. The deputy provost has inventoried our existing student support programs, with the inventory available on a Graduation Rate Strategic Plan website, and completed a preliminary degree completion needs assessment. In the spring, we will be presenting findings broadly and will be soliciting feedback through a variety of venues from students, staff and faculty to inform our strategic plan for student success.

As we develop our strategic plan, I welcome your engagement and feedback through the website, where you can share input and review up-to-date information on our progress. We each have an essential role to play in fostering a sense of belonging and empowering our students to succeed. I look forward to our continued work together.

Sincerely,

​Andy Feinstein
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs