Faculty Offer Suggestions To Slow Student Attrition

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Faculty Offer Suggestions For Slowing Attrition

UMass Boston Professors expressed concern at last Monday’s Faculty Council meeting at the erosion in the numbers of new students coming in, known as the freshman attrition rate.

A report by Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Kathleen Teehan apparently had some professors worried and looking to help make sure students stick around for the rest of the semester.

Associate Provost Peter Langer suggested going through the early alert system in the University Advising Center. By the second week of the semester, faculty can see if a student is drifting off target, he said. Langer urged faculty to call the center to immediately allow the staff there to work with the student.

One problem is that when students get lost and by the middle of the semester, it’s too late, Langer said.

Other faculty suggested other ways to help, such as becoming a faculty freshman advisor.

Psychology Professor Steven Schwartz floated the idea of getting faculty to personally call on the student body to improve the number of students brought in.

Student senator Jesse Solomon brought up the prospect of making orientation “more personalized and ice-breaking,” noting that this had come up when several new students were sworn into the student senate last week.

UMass Boston is in the bottom level among its peer institutions when it comes to attrition.

“We are not looking good,” Langer said.

UMass President’s Office May Move

The UMass President’s Office appears to be looking at moving from its One Beacon Street digs to the State Street tower downtown, the Boston Herald recently reported.

“UMass President Jack Wilson’s office is in negotiations to take over a floor of corporate suites at State Street Corp.’s longtime, 33-story Boston headquarters, a spokesman confirmed,” the Herald reported.

The move would place the office at 225 Franklin Street, slightly farther away from its old home on Beacon Hill that’s quite literally down the street from the state Legislature.

UMass spokesperson Robert Connolly told the Herald that while no deal has been made as of yet, the move may in fact save some money.

Earlier last year, former President William Bulger came under fire for his supposedly lavish One Beacon office, as well as its operations. Gov. Mitt Romney put out a higher education reorganization plan that included the elimination of Bulger’s office, which UMass officials contended would hand over all the work to the five campuses, instead of a centralized location.

The State Street location would potentially tie into the search to locate a possible alumni club, similar to the ones at Harvard University and Boston College. But the university is also looking at housing them in two different locations.

“We are still looking for the very best deal for the university and the taxpayers,” Connolly told the Herald. “There are certainly other options.”

Amherst Student Elections To Continue As Speaker Resigns

UMass Amherst is forging ahead with student elections as its student government deals with a raging controversy over photos posted on the Internet.

Former Speaker Patrick Higgins resigned last week after the photos showed him and eight other student representatives drinking in a university office and had a caricature of Higgins as a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, according to the Daily Collegian, the Amherst campus’ student newspaper.

The rest of the “KKK Nine,” as the students are being called, have yet to step down from their positions, despite outcry by some in the community.

“I have a hard time believing that members of the ‘KKK9′ are not resigning. If pictures of them drunk, in a University office with Klan graffiti behind them isn’t enough to shame them into resigning, I don’t know what is,” Jeffrey Napolitano, Secretary of Press Relations for the student government told the Collegian.

Student elections, originally slated for September 29, were postponed due to the controversy and rescheduled for this week.

At a panel discussion held last week, Vice Chancellor of Student of Student Affairs Michael Gargano said expulsion has not been ruled out, but the students’ education is important.

“Sanctions can range from warning to dismissal, but in this world everyone has the right to free speech. We may not like that but that’s the law,” Gargano said, according to the Collegian. The crowd, ironically, booed in response.