USM president to focus on retention

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders wants more freshmen at her school to stay around to get a diploma.

Saunders says retention at USM is about 70 percent; she would like to get it up to 80 percent.

Saunders will bring educators and others to USM to discuss retention issues at a summit Nov. 20-21.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Retention in higher education refers to the number of freshmen who don’t drop out, but return for their second year of college. Saunders said those who do are more likely to graduate.

She says freshmen drop out for many reasons, from math struggles to financial woes.

Students without a major are at risk of dropping out, but Saunders said USM does a good job with “undecideds.”

Saunders said private schools do a good job of holding on to a student once they get him or her, Saunders said.

She says about half of new students at USM are transfers, most from community colleges.