To: OSU Faculty and Staff

From: Edward Feser, Provost and Executive Vice President

January 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As we settle in to the new term, I want to take a moment to wish you a happy new year and thank you for all you do to advance Oregon State University’s research, education and engagement mission.

I also want to share some good news in undergraduate education. Last year, our first-year retention rate rose to its highest ever—85.4%—and our six-year graduation rate edged up to 67.1%. While multiple factors account for our steady improvement, I do want to take a moment and recognize that our campus-wide commitment to improving the persistence and graduation of our students is making a difference.

We do continue to see gaps in the retention and graduation of underrepresented, Pell-eligible and first-generation students, when compared to students not among these groups. Continued attention to eliminating these gaps in the daily work of teaching, advising, and mentoring is essential.

As well, many of us have been involved in the pilot Faculty-Student Mentor Program (FSMP), in which underrepresented students, first-generation students, and students with high financial need are mentored by faculty volunteers and student peers. I am pleased to report that the first-year retention rate of students who participated in the FSMP during the last academic year is 7.4 percentage points higher than a matched cohort of students who did not participate, a statistically significant difference. We now have evidence that a scaled-up version of this program will help narrow the achievement gaps mentioned above and substantially increase our first-year retention. I extend my sincere thanks to the USSI Steering Committee for conceiving and implementing this program and to the more than 100 faculty who have volunteered to mentor students new to OSU.

Other activity and progress associated with our Undergraduate Student Success Initiative can be found in the Fall 2019 USSI-SC Quarterly Update. Please join me at our third annual Undergraduate Student Success Summit on March 5, where you can learn more about FSMP, hear keynote presentations by Dr. Leticia Oseguera and President Ray, and view the feature film Unlikely. Our emcee for the Summit is Ms. Alessandra Ferriso, Honors BA student in English and Theatre. We expect to offer several dozen presentations in multiple sessions and enjoy record attendance. You can submit a proposal to present (until Jan. 20) and register here: https://beav.es/Z9V.

Guided by Strategic Plan 4.0, we have many other projects underway this year. In addition to student success, we are placing particular focus on graduate education, research infrastructure, enrollment management, information technology, and international affairs. I encourage you to learn more about OSU’s progress via the SP4.0 implementation page.

Sincerely,

Edward Feser
Provost and Executive Vice President