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Enrollment, Retention and Graduation Numbers All Up At Morgan

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2014
Contact:
Dr. Kara Turner, 443-885-3350, or
Dr. Tiffany Mfume, 443-885-3651

University seeing historic highs in student success

Morgan State University is celebrating its success in student enrollment, retention and graduation rates, and in an increase in the diversity of its student body with news that first-time freshman numbers rose to 1,058 students, up by 19 percent this academic year compared with the same period a year ago. The University also saw a three percent increase in new transfer students over last year, an eight percent rise in the number of graduate students,  and a 10 percent increase in both Hispanic and international students. The graduate student enrollment is at an historic high for Morgan.

“This is great news for us because it reverses a recent enrollment decline brought on by changes in the federal Parent-plus loan guidelines,” said Morgan President David Wilson. “The news is even better given the fact that the improvements spread across the spectrum at Morgan brought on by several new programs that we have implemented to not only attract more students to the University but to ensure their success once they get here. In light of what we’re reading about other public universities in Maryland suffering declines in enrollment, and in retention and graduation rates, Morgan is moving in the opposite direction. Our enrollment management staff has done a commendable job.”

“Morgan is an extraordinarily vibrant and exciting place to be right now, and prospective students are recognizing that,” said Dr. Kara Turner, associate provost for enrollment management. “From our new School of Global Journalism and Communication, our award-winning Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies, and our almost-completed $80 million new School of Business and Management building, to our expanding study-abroad and internship programs, we have so much to offer a diverse array of students.”

Jessica Maria Gonzales, a first-year student from Bridgeport, Connecticut, decided to take advantage of those programs and opportunities and says she is happy she did. “I have been introduced to many important people who are supporting, encouraging and admiring my success for the future,” says Gonzales, who is majoring in elementary education.

Morgan has put into place academic coaching and mentoring programs, course redesign initiatives, and something President Wilson refers to as “disruptive intervention” that have helped students like Gonzales. The result has been a marked improvement in the school’s retention rate, up nine percentage points from 67 percent when Wilson arrived to 76 percent today– the highest the University has seen in thirty years, and just a fraction of a percentage point away from the highest retention rate that Morgan has ever recorded. “We’ve worked very hard to put programs and practices into place to help all of our students succeed”, states Dr. Turner.  “Over the past few years, we’ve become ever more proactive in our approach to working with students, ensuring that they take the right courses, utilize the available academic support resources, and remain both academically and financially able to remain at the university. I’m sure that some students may occasionally find some of our efforts a bit overbearing, but these efforts are clearly paying off, and numerous students can attest to the positive impact of our seemingly intrusive actions in ensuring that they remain on track to graduate”.

Among the strategies Morgan has also implemented is the “Reclamation Initiative,” a program which creates opportunities for students who leave the University in good academic standing to return to finish their degree in their fifth or sixth academic year, or what would be considered “on time;” that is, in six consecutive years or less. This has been accomplished with the use of funding designated especially for students who stopped out after earning 90 credits or more but were in good academic standing. Morgan was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for implementing an Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS) technology system. The IPAS technology has enhanced academic advising and provided sophisticated, yet user friendly, tracking and monitoring systems, including Starfish Retention Solutions, to automate the University’s Early Alert and Response System (EARS) for faculty, staff and students. Students immediately receive text alerts from their professors if they miss two-to-three class periods.

Dr. Tiffany Mfume, director of the University’s Office of Student Success and Retention, calls the program a targeted, strategic approach to increasing college completion rates at Morgan. “While Morgan State University has consistently graduated students at the undergraduate level at the expected rates, based on predictive modeling, our vision is to graduate students at higher rates than would be expected, based on students’ pre-college preparation and their financial circumstances,” says Dr. Mfume.

Morgan’s graduation rate has also shown improvement, up seven percentage points, or 25 percent over the past three years, from 28 percent-to-35 percent since 2011.

In addition, the University has seen impressive increases in its international student enrollment. Today, more than 500 students representing over 60 countries call Morgan their home. They hail from Brazil, China, Nepal, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and all points in between. According to Dr. T. Joan Robinson, vice president for international affairs, “Morgan has marketed itself around the world as an attractive and innovative place for students seeking a high-quality college experience and it is working.”

Increasing the opportunities for Morgan students to study abroad has been at the core of the University’s focus over the last three years. President Wilson stated that, “Students today are waist-high in the water of globalization. To be the leaders this nation demands, they will need to speak the critical languages and understand the history of culture and nations different from their own. We do not live in silos anymore.”

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified doctoral research institution offering more than 60 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.

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