Marc Musick

(Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Brace yourselves — the freshmen are coming.

University officials have spent the summer months preparing for what might be its largest incoming freshman class on record and what could be the second largest overall enrollment in UT history. By adding more sections, lecturers, advisors and First-Year Interest Group programs, or programs that place freshmen into small groups to support their academic performance, University officials said they are confident that the school is ready for the freshmen class.

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, said estimates for the incoming freshman class are currently around 8,000 students. This is an approximate 900-student increase from last year’s 7,149 students. Currently, the year 2002 holds the title for most first-time enrolled freshmen with 7,935 students enrolled as first-time freshmen and 8,419 students classified as freshmen. The University will not know if it broke its past records until the twelfth class day, when enrollment is officially counted.

“It’s too close to call,” Ishop said in an email, speculating whether this entering freshman class would be the University’s largest. “Our largest prior class was just over 7,900. So it could be.”

Although the University says it is ready for this incoming freshman class, the increased enrollment will place a strain on the University for years to come. Professor William Cunningham, who was president of the University from 1985 to 1992, faced similar issues because of enrollment growth in 1988 when enrollment reached an all-time high. Cunningham compared the problem to a bubble.

“If you have a problem in freshman courses this year, then next year you will have a problem in sophomore courses,” Cunningham said. “So you will have to put some more resources into sophomore courses, but UT officials know that. It’s not rocket science.”

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the University will have to add sections and redirect resources for years to come. This means for returning students and for all students going forward, officials will continue to add sections and lecturers to various colleges and schools as this freshman class moves through the University.

“The reason you don’t make decisions right now about where to put them is because students generally tend to migrate in lots of general directions,” Laude said.

Laude said he has been involved in conversations with the deans across all of the schools, particularly in the professional schools like business, engineering and communication, about the possibility of expanding.

“As that happens and as they take on those additional students, it will be required that we take the money we have available associated with the increased enrollment and create additional sections in the majors they end up populating,” Laude said.

Among the incoming freshmen, certain colleges and schools have been more heavily impacted. Marc Musick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said he noticed the largest increases in the School of Undergraduate Studies, the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Fine Arts.

“I handled orientation for the University, so I can see the numbers we’re experiencing across all the colleges,” Musick said. He was appointed to oversee New Student Services and the large changes made in the orientation program by UT President William Powers Jr. in April.

The School of Undergraduate Studies faces more than a 50 percent increase in enrollment — from 900 students last year to approximately 1,400 this year. Initial numbers in the beginning of the summer indicated 1,574 students were planning on attending UGS in the fall, but since then almost 200 students have decided to not attend.

Incoming UGS interim dean Larry Abraham said when the school first heard about the number of incoming students, their initial concern was actually not about the number of classes offered but whether the school had enough advisors. Assistant UGS dean David Spight said the school has hired three new advisors, who will start the second week of August, a few weeks before students arrive.

Abraham said the school was also concerned about whether there would be enough seats in classes.

“There was a panic mode where students were saying there won’t be enough seats. We’ve never had this many students try to take freshman courses, whether they are signature courses or introduction to biology or whatever,” Abraham said. “The University has responded to that.”

In order to respond to both its increased enrollment and the entire school’s increased enrollment, UGS has added more than a total of 1,300 seats in signature courses to the 2012-2013 school year, bringing the total to 11,300. Signature courses, introduced in 2008, are each assigned a unique topic and aim to introduce the student to the University and its resources. The 1,300 additional seats includes the fall, spring and summer semesters. Patricia Micks, UGS senior program coordinator, said about 8,000 of those seats are the fall semester, when UGS hopes a majority of freshmen will take their signature course.

Micks said UGS did a combination of adding new signature courses and increasing the class size of some already-existing signature courses.

“We were very careful. If we’re going to bump any class sizes, we were sure to strategically select professors who really shine in these large classes,” Micks said.

UGS also increased the number of academic FIGs offered within the school from 15 to 24.

In order to pay for this, Abraham said the provost’s office gave UGS approximately $300,000.

Thanks to the funding provided by the Provost’s office, Abraham said UGS has dealt with advising and seating concerns. Spight said the school is now focusing to ensure students can make a smooth transition to their desired school after UGS.

“Our job is to help them find all the options and set them up for success, but in the end the student has to be successful in their courses and the programs have to be willing to say they will take those students,” Spight said. “That concern is going to be a little bit bigger for us this year simply because there are more students that we are worrying about.”

Spight said there has been increased collaboration between UGS and other colleges. For example, of the nine additional FIGs added to UGS, Spight said a few Natural-Sciences-oriented FIGS were added because a large number of students in UGS had selected the College of Natural Sciences as their first choice.

“We tried to make sure the FIGs that we added addressed those areas of interests,” Spight said. “The courses that were associated with those FIGs, whether it be the signature course topics or the other courses in the FIG clusters, we made sure they were along those lines in the sciences.”

In the College of Natural Sciences, freshman enrollment is expected to rise by about 15 percent. Last year, the college had about 1,835 students enroll, and this year it is expecting 2,152 students. Sacha Kopp, associate professor and natural sciences assistant dean, said the college has seen an increase in freshman enrollment in the past three years and this will be the largest class the college has ever seen.

The College of Natural Sciences has added sections and additional seats to prepare for this class, but Kopp said he could not say how many sections and seats were added since the college is still watching the enrollment numbers and is adjusting accordingly. Kopp said the college is not adding these classes just for students in that college.

And in the College of Fine Arts, which houses many of the courses required to fulfill the visual and performing arts undergraduate degree requirements, enrollment is expected to increase by 400 students, or 20 percent. The college has responded by adding several hundred seats to these courses to accommodate non-majors, said Andrew Dell-Antonio, College of Fine Arts associate dean.

Officials from other colleges are on board to prepare the University for this large incoming freshman class, even if their college is not seeing an enrollment increase. For example, Musick said COLA was adding additional sections.

“We serve students in other colleges as well,” Musick said. “Even though it’s not technically liberal arts students, they are UT students and they do need our classes.”

Senior associate dean for academic affairs Richard Flores said the University added 16 new sections in the College of Liberal Arts. The college is in the process of hiring a combination of nine additional lecturers and assistant instructors. The provost’s office provided the College of Liberal Arts with $306,000 in funding for this increase.

The first day of class is Aug. 29. The official enrollment count will be conducted Sept. 14.

Updated 11:24 a.m.: 1,300 seats, not 13,000 seats, were added to the number of signature courses.
 

With two months until the class of 2016 begins arriving on campus to register for their freshman classes, University officials announced Monday a significant shift toward focus on academics for undergraduate orientation this summer.

University President William Powers Jr. said the increasing emphasis on academics will include making sure students know different pathways to graduation, to reduce the number of students who take more than four years to graduate. No specific programs have been finalized.

“Any time you are on a journey you have to actually sit down and think ‘Were is it I want to go?’” Powers said. “Look at the map and think, ‘OK, so if I want to get to Boston there are a number of ways to get there, but I ought to start out heading out somewhere Northeast.’ You have a lot of students who get to their sophomore year and will report, ‘I started west on I-10, rather than northeast. So we are trying to get people off to a good start [so they] think about what these pathways are.”

Powers said graduating in four years is something parents expect, and without doing so students and parents spend more on tuition, living expenses, and face the additional cost of lost income caused by late entry into the workforce.

Powers said new students will still be able to experience the richness and diversity of opportunities for campus involvement as well as learning the ins and outs of living on their own while becoming oriented.

“What goes on outside the classroom is a major part of what I call the overall education of students, whether they are working for The Daily Texan, or Student Government or a political religious student organization,” Powers said. “That’s a very important part of being integrated onto the campus. It doesn’t mean all that needs to be done in the first three or four days at orientation. It’s not that these other things aren’t important, it’s just a question of when to introduce them.”

Marc Musick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, has been assigned to oversee the office of New Student Services to implement changes to orientation that emphasize academics and improving graduation rates. Musick said while no specific programs have been designed for orientation to emphasize academics, he remained optimistic the work would be done in time for orientation’s start in June.

“I have already had conversations with the New Student Services staff and others around the University about the new direction and have been impressed with everyone’s willingness to work together to succeed in this challenging endeavor,” Musick said. “Meeting the goals that the president put before the University will be difficult, but with the help of students, staff and faculty across the University, I’m convinced we can get there.”

Knowing how to best utilize resources to graduate on time is something Ashleigh Fuller, West Sabine High School senior and soon-to-be UT freshman, said she expects to learn during orientation.

“I don’t want to take extra unnecessary classes,” Fuller said. “I don’t want to waste time and money on something I don’t need, especially when I’m planning to get my undergraduate degree and then start a pharmacy degree.”

Policy changes in the College of Liberal Arts will force students to spend more time meeting with advisers before making any changes to their majors or minors.

After March 30, students wishing to change degrees within the College of Liberal Arts will no longer have access to online major change forms and will be required to meet with advisers within the College to make those changes.

This change is specific to liberal arts and ensures that students have the best information before they make the decision, said associate dean for student affairs Marc Musick.

“The College of Liberal Arts advising leadership teams visited colleges around the United States to see how they worked with students and promoted graduation rates,” Musick said.

“Based on those visits, the thought was that adopting this system would be a help to students.”

The extra time with advisers should be a great benefit to students for multiple reasons, Musick said.

“It helps ensure that they have the best information possible, and it also provides advisers the opportunity to meet with students to discuss larger academic and career goals,” Musick said.

David Spight, assistant dean for advising in the School of Undergraduate Studies, said he believes this will help advisers make sure students are choosing the major that is best for them.

“While this creates more work for the student, in the end it compels students to check out their desired major more,” Spight said.

Before the change was implemented, undeclared students in the School of Undergraduate Studies simply had to go to the dean’s office of their desired major and fill out a form, but now students will be required to not only go to the college, but the actual department for that major and have their form signed off, Spight said.

“Ideally all of our students met with advisers in various colleges before making their decision, but this change helps enforce something our advisers originally wanted,” Spight said.

Many students in Undergraduate Studies end up transferring into the College of Liberal Arts because of the large number of degrees offered, so even though this change is only with one school, it’s a good step, Spight said.

Engineering junior Daniel Choi said this change would hold students more accountable for their degree progress.

As a student contemplating adding a liberal arts degree to his graduation plan, Choi said this change is something that will help him in the long run to be responsible during this process.

“Decisions like this are really important, but sometimes we don’t take the time to put in the necessary effort and this makes us do just that,” Choi said.

Printed on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 as: Liberal Arts policy forces advisor aid

Whenever a controversial issue “hits the fan,” it can seem like UT administrators form a task force to confront the issue head on. But faculty members sometimes wonder if these groups improve the conversation, or if they simply sidestep faculty committees.

Standing committees of the general faculty are created by the Faculty Council to revise University policy. Task forces are groups in which members are appointed by administrators to deal with specific issues. Both groups contain faculty and students. Several faculty members mentioned their grievances at the Faculty Council meeting on Jan. 23. A specific concern of some faculty is the forthcoming report from the Graduation Rates Task Force.

Alan Friedman, Faculty Council chair and English professor, said he is concerned about the control that administrators have over the task forces. The committees fall under three main categories — faculty affairs, student services and activities and institutional policy or governance. There is no centralized list of task forces, which creates confusion among faculty. Recent task forces have met for a semester and up to a full year.

“They bypass the governing structure,” Friedman said. “I objected to them on a number of occasions and they do keep coming.”

Friedman said he often hears task force supporters argue that task forces can have appointed members with thorough knowledge of the given issue and can respond quickly to the University needs about the issue.   

“The only part of that which makes sense to me is if administrators want a group that will report only to them,” Friedman said. “Because there’s no reason the committees can’t report back.”

Sociology professor and associate liberal arts dean Marc Musick currently serves on a task force and previously served on the Faculty Council. Although Musick did not serve on the Graduation Rates Task Force, he wrote a report analyzing the time it takes UT students to graduate.

Musick said task forces give the faculty and students appointed to them an opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge on the topic.

“By simply starting the conversations we can facilitate change on campus,” Musick said.

Musick said task forces are meant to create ideas and it is up to faculty to implement those they think are appropriate or to forego them.

“Much of the business I’ve seen is to vet the ideas coming forward,” Musick said. “The faculty have a voice in that way.”
Senate president Carisa Nietsche met with the Graduation Rates Task Force and serves on the faculty’s Education Policy Committee. Nietsche said the task forces bring together the main stakeholders in the issue.

“I typically think of task forces as being more in tune with administrator priorities,” Nietsche said.

Nietsche said task forces can focus on sole issues in a way that faculty committees cannot, due to time constraints and the nature of committees to deal with broader policy matters. She said for the most part, the task forces and committees complement each other in an effort to improve the University.

“I don’t see it as a conflict,” Nietsche said. “I think the committees can have a role in task forces.”

Marc Musick, associate dean at the College of Liberal Arts, prepared a study of the productivity of UT professors.

Two sources of revenue are examined: The first is general support to UT by the State. After determining the total amount to devote to four-year higher education, the Legislature computes individual institutional allotments by formulas based on semester credit hours taught, weighted by subject and the status of the teacher. The second source of revenue is grants obtained by a professor to conduct research.

Musick computes the amounts “generated” by professors of different classes — such as senior faculty, junior faculty, those in science, etc. — and concludes that the highest-paid faculty, as a group, “brought in $218 million in research and formula funding” while receiving total compensation of $107 million. He offers this as support for a conclusion of high “productivity.”

The research funds brought to the University by a professor can correctly be attributed to the professor’s research, but the general state support, while using semester credit hours as a metric for its distribution, can be and is used for any
academic purpose.

If the amount of state support distributed according to the semester-credit-hour formula were applied to specific professors, it would cover only a part of the expenses of providing instruction. Activities not measured by semester credit hours, including the admissions office, President William Powers Jr.’s salary, electricity, library maintenance, must be met. The “generating revenue” analysis offered by Musick would suggest that a Texas university would improve its financial position by hiring ever more senior faculty. Huh?

Francis D. Fisher
Senior Research Fellow, LBJ School of Public Affairs

The University released a second productivity report Friday, continuing its battle of numbers against critics of public higher education.

Authored again by Marc Musick, sociology professor and associate dean for student affairs at the College of Liberal Arts — and now the University’s go-to number cruncher — the report analyzes faculty productivity through the lens of teaching and externally-funded research.

Among the report’s major findings is that the amount of money faculty members bring in through teaching and research is more than double the amount of money the state contributes to faculty salaries and benefits.

The report uses the same subset of data used by Rick O’Donnell — former senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and former UT System adviser — in July to categorize various UT and Texas A&M faculty members as dodgers, coasters, sherpas, pioneers and stars based on their teaching loads and research. It is also the same data used by Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in a report in May that references low teaching loads among UT faculty members as the reason for increases in tuition.

In many ways, Musick’s report is meant to serve as a handy pocket guide for University officials to spew off UT’s faculty box score as they continue to address productivity critics. It does a fair job in identifying the nuances of the University that can be the root of misinterpretation and in acknowledging the shortfalls in using narrow variables to paint the full picture.

However, Musick’s report does nothing to shake the stigma of intractability that hounds higher education institutions.

For starters, while UT and A&M were at the center of the higher education controversy earlier this year, the real targets of criticism were all higher education institutions in the state. Moreover, with elected officials like Florida Gov. Rick Scott praising Texas’ controversy as good for higher education reform and with the Cato Institute hosting a conference called “Squeezing the Tower: Are We Getting All We Can from Higher Education?” this Friday in Washington D.C., this is very much a national debate.

In this way, UT is opting to not start anything that changes the world but rather remain in a stance of self-defense. By withdrawing into report-publishing protectionism and hoping to pass four-year graduation rates as a sign of progression, the conversation remains in the arena of the loudest critics.

A further problem is that higher education — especially faculty members — remains vulnerable to outside criticism. Words such as “clockless,” “overpaid” and “elitist” are tossed out shamelessly at faculty members whose only real protection is the already much-criticized institution.

At the root of this problem is a disconnection between the institution and its faculty members and the most potent force of defense: the community. When the extent of a university’s engagement with so many members of its neighboring community is limited to touchdowns and interceptions on Saturdays, the foundation of potential support for its academic mission is marginalized.

In the end, dancing to the songs of faculty productivity distracts us all from asking the real questions that address what public higher education actually provides to the public. 

On average, University faculty members generate more money than they make with their research and teaching, according to a UT professor who authored a study on faculty instructional and grant-based productivity.

The study analyzes UT System data by breaking faculty down into tenured and tenure-track professors, graduate students and other faculty. The study’s author, sociology professor and associate liberal arts dean Marc Musick, said the results are limited because productivity measurements can’t provide an accurate picture of all the work professors do, especially with the data provided by the UT System.

“The report shows that the faculty are productive, but we can be more productive,” Musick said.

Musick said the UT System data provided faculty salary, benefits, the number of hours faculty members teach and grant expenditures. He said this left out important factors in faculty productivity such as mentoring students.

“Think about how good they’d look if we added all of these things on top of it,” Musick said.

Earlier this semester, Musick released a report on four-year graduation rates that compared UT to other public research universities. The report found that UT ranked 13th out of 120 for six-year graduation rates and second for the number of faculty employed per public dollar. Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, analyzed the data and found that 80 percent of the faculty teach smaller and fewer classes and should increase their teaching loads.

Former UT System special adviser Rick O’Donnell analyzed the same data this summer after he was fired. His report found the University could save $573 million by eliminating 1,784 of 3,000 faculty members that he categorized as under-productive.

Musick said his report is meant to analyze overall faculty performance and does not break data into results for individual faculty members. The A&M System released a faculty productivity analysis last spring known as the “red and black report” that singled out individual faculty performance. The controversial report threatened A&M’s membership with the Association of American Universities, which is an organization of leading research universities.

“It can be broken down, but I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Musick said. “It doesn’t look at all things that faculty do to be productive.”

Musick said the UT System data contained errors that did not properly reflect faculty productivity, which is another reason the data should not be broken down to individual faculty members.

The UT System plans to implement a productivity dashboard that will provide real time snapshots of faculty productivity. Musick said he did not know how it could be done or what it will be used for.

“As we go forward we have to be careful about the data we’re collecting,” Musick said.

Report reaffirms faculty productivity

Marc Musick, associate dean for student affairs, released another report last week analyzing the productivity of UT faculty. The report comes amid controversy surrounding the efficiency of higher education in Texas. The following quotes are from Musick’s report unless otherwise noted.

“There is a common belief that at UT-Austin and other major research universities, professors only conduct research, get grants and teach graduate students. ... The data demonstrates that this belief is simply not true.”

“[The] differences between the expectations and abilities of instructors at different faculty ranks make them virtually incomparable for productivity purposes.”

“[The report] finds, in general, that the 1,988 tenured and tenure track professors at the University of Texas at Austin work very hard for their students and provide an incredible return on investment for the state.”

“We need to be very careful moving forward if we’re going to measure faculty productivity.”
— Musick in response to a question about the UT System’s plan to establish a productivity dashboard that will show up-to-date measures of productivity across the system.

The birth of the MyEdu deal

The following quotes are from emails and documents obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act regarding the UT System’s $10-million investment in MyEdu. The unique partnership, announced Oct. 18, gives the system a 22.5-percent stake in the company.

“John Cunningham is Bill Cunningham’s son. He started this business some time ago, and it has really taken off. I believe Bill has supported it, too.”
— Randa Safady, UT System’s vice chancellor for external relations, in an email to UT System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn, with carbon copies sent to Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and several other system officials on July 5. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Cigarroa said he was unaware of the investment made by former chancellor and UT president William Cunningham in MyEdu but also said he was under no obligation to disclose it and that it was not pertinent to the deal. In all the emails obtained by The Daily Texan, Cunningham is never mentioned or involved in brokering the deal.

“My type of tempo! That is why I like to play fast Flamenco music!”
— Cigarroa in a playful email to MyEdu CEO Michael Crosno on Sept. 7 acknowledging Crosno’s enthusiasm in getting started with the project. The agreement was signed Sept. 13.

“I am pleased to convey that the agreements with MyEdu have been finalized, and now the tangible work of implementation, including all fifteen campuses and UT System Administration, commences.”
— Cigarroa in a Sept. 21 memorandum to all the university presidents of the system. In the memorandum, Cigarroa announces the creation of “a rapid response team” chaired by Pedro Reyes, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and UT professor, and asks all system institutions to appoint a “campus liaison” to “develop their campus action teams to work on implementation.”

Sixty percent of UT students who study abroad graduate in four years, compared to 45 percent of non-participants, according to a study by the assistant director of the Study Abroad Office.

A University task force, assembled by President William Powers Jr. in July is looking for ways to increase UT’s 51 percent four-year graduation rate, according to a separate study by associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Marc Musick.

At an open forum about the task force last month, Musick said some people think study abroad hinders the amount of time it takes students to graduate, but he said the study by Heather Barclay Hamir, director of the Study Abroad Office, shows that it has the opposite effect.

“This is a common perception, that it slows time to [earn a] degree, and what she found is that’s just not true,” Musick said.

Hamir said the study is quantitative research, so the results do not explain the reason for the results, but there does appear to be a correlation between graduating in four years and participating in programs like study abroad.

“When students participate in these enriching educational activities, it deepens their educational experience, and that causes students to stay at that university,” Hamir said.

According to Hamir’s study, differences in the likelihood of graduating from UT were not attributable to motivational factors or differences in academic performance.

“What my research shows is that there’s something about study abroad different from academics that’s keeping them at the University until graduation,” Hamir said.

She said the cost of many study abroad programs include expenses that students would also have living in Austin and attending UT. Hamir said scholarships are available for students who want to study abroad, and there are a variety of study abroad programs that range in cost.

“The more flexible you can be about where you go, the more options you’ll have so you can fit it into your financial comfort zone,” Hamir said.

She said it takes planning for study abroad to be integrated into a student’s four-year degree plan.

“We’re trying to reach freshmen so they have the information in order to plan,” Hamir said.

Advertising junior Casey Lewis studied abroad last summer with the Hong Kong International Advertising Maymester. Lewis said she understands the study’s results because the study abroad process takes planning.

Lewis said she and her classmates on the Maymester created an advertising campaign geared at Hong Kong culture. She said she is developing similar advertising campaigns in her classes this semester and said the experience in Hong Kong translates to these projects.

“I feel like I’m more prepared for my classes,” Lewis said. “I think it was harder over there because it was a totally different culture, but I’m doing it for my own culture so it seems easier.”

She said the trip further sparked her interest in completing her degree on time so she can travel to Asia again when she enters the workforce.

“It definitely lit the fire,” Lewis said. “When you’re in school you’re tied down, but when you graduate you’re able to do whatever you want and go wherever you want.”

Printed on Monday, October 17, 2011 as: Study abroad found to improve graduation rate

Randi Diehl, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, speaks at the forum for Liberal Arts Studies. Diehl discussed different ways to increase percentage of students that graduate in the recommended four year time frame.

Photo Credit: Kiersten Holms | Daily Texan Staff

[Updated on Sep. 28 at 12:58 a.m., corrected graduation percentages]

In order to obtain student input for the task force working to increase the four-year graduation rate, the Liberal Arts Council and Senate of College Councils hosted an open forum at the University Teaching Center on Tuesday evening.

Using discussions and various polls of those who attended, the videotaped forum invited students to offer their opinions on what should be done to raise the four-year graduation rate, currently at 52 percent, to associate dean Marc Musick and dean Randy Diehl, the task force chair.

“Student support is imperative for increasing four-year graduation rates,” Diehl said. “Any successful initiative begins with listening, and that’s what this forum is about. I hope students will share their ideas about what motivates them to achieve a four-year degree and the barriers that may be standing in their way.”

Several topics were discussed at the event, particularly how to balance the ‘cultivation of the mind’ desired by President William Powers Jr. in reaching the four-year goal. Some were surprised, then, when many of the activities often associated with more time spent in college correlated with earlier graduation, such as the fact that students who studied abroad were statistically seven times more likely to graduate in four years, Diehl said.

“A lot of what they were talking about was about being innovative, and I’m really interested in getting a follow up of Musick’s research,” said international relations sophomore Kolby Lee. “What stood out to me was the correlation between study abroad and less time spent in college.”

The task force, which has been meeting twice a week since the summer, is composed of 10 faculty members from various colleges and five student representatives. Up until this point, the task force has been meeting with expert witnesses and student leaders to obtain a better understanding of the problem of graduation, Diehl said.

Ultimately, the task force hopes to develop a plan that will work for Powers’ goal to have an 70 percent four-year graduation rate in five years, Diehl said. The deadline for their proposal is currently set for December.

“The conclusions are that students that are integrated in their university socially and academically will do better,” Musick said. “What we want to do is change people’s minds about how they view the campus.”