This week’s Faculty Conference at A-State featured a keynote speaker who talked about his journey towards a new model for student success. Ann Kenda with Arkansas Public Media reports.
David Laude is a popular professor of chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, which has roughly three and a half times as many students as A-State. He came to A-State this week to talk about student success, even though many years ago he wasn’t a model for that himself.
"The only adults I knew were football coaches and their wives. I flunked out of a graduate school program because I didn’t pass the qualifying exams."
Laude says after getting his PhD and growing as a teacher and administrator, he took on the task of improving UT’s four-year graduation rate, and started noticing the disparity between students who were used to having advantages in life, and those who didn’t.
"A fourth of our students come from economic disadvantage. The New York Times came out with an article that said rich kids graduate, poor kids don’t."
Laude says U-T then created models of success for students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"We didn’t remediate them or back them feel like they didn’t belong. These are the students the university has least taken care of and it needs to change."
Laude’s talk came on the same day Arkansas State announced that it has hit a record high for first-year student retention. With a goal of 77 percent, the retention rate is now at 77.1 percent. Chancellor Kelly Damphousse says he talks to students all the time about why they came to AState but even more so, why they stayed.
"And I say, well why did you stay? And they say because of my professor, because I love my professor and the relationship I have with them. That’s it. They don’t stay because it’s beautiful. They come because it’s beautiful, but they stay because of you, so thank you for that."
Final retention numbers won’t be known until the 11th day of classes. The next goals are 82 percent, and then 85 percent.