Rockhurst University Receives Retention AwardJuly 10, 2014

Rockhurst University is one of three schools being honored this week by higher education consultants Noel-Levitz for an innovative effort to consistently improve its student retention rates.

The Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award winners were announced June 30, and the awards presented during the National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing and Retention July 8-10 in Chicago.

The award was given in response to a data-driven program implemented at Rockhurst University to help students stay on track. Using a three-tiered system built on statistics and characteristics for incoming freshmen students, the University developed and implemented a strategy for helping students for whom early intervention would have the greatest impact — those at moderate risk of leaving the University.

To reach the largest number of students, the student affairs subcommittee asked for those who have perhaps the most contact with students on a regular basis — resident advisors — to talk to the students who might need assistance or extra help. Sandy Waddell, M.S. Ed., assistant dean of students and director of new students, retention and access programs, credited Emily Kempf, M.S., assistant director of residence life, with spearheading that effort.

“Emily helped develop this retention intervention,” Waddell said. “Her leadership in implementing this as part of the resident assistant's responsibilities has improved our freshman experience and has deepened the relationships that RAs develop with their residents.”

First-to-second year retention rates have continually exceeded established goals since the first year of implementation, improving from 82 percent to a projected rate of 90 percent in three years. Because of those improved retention rates, four-year graduation rates are also expected to increase.

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