Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regents Warning Schools: Do Better; They're Pushing College Presidents to Increase Grad Rates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regents Warning Schools: Do Better; They're Pushing College Presidents to Increase Grad Rates

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - Two of every five high school seniors receiving acceptance letters this spring will drop out of the Georgia public colleges they enroll in next fall rather than graduating some time in the next six years, according to state figures.

That 59 percent graduation rate prompted the Board of Regents, which governs the state's public schools through the University System of Georgia, to create a task force. Not willing to delegate the issue to staff, regents Willis Potts, Larry Ellis and Felton Jenkins are meeting individually with every college president by the end of August.

During the March regents meeting, Potts gave the full board an interim report, publicly scolding some of the presidents the committee had already met with and warning those they had not.

"We know all the buzz words. There's not much point in trying to snow us," he said.

The committee aims to push college presidents into devising detailed plans for boosting graduation rates.

"Surprisingly, some of our institutions do not yet consider retention and graduation a clear priority, even though I can assure you this Board of Regents does," Potts said. "I don't want to hear that a president has been taking care of other things but has not yet gotten around to graduation rates."

Legislators have recently raised the matter, too. During discussions about possible budget cuts to the University System, lawmakers complained that the graduation rate was unacceptable.

Administrators from across the South are concerned enough to meet next week in Charleston, W.Va., with legislators and experts. Sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board, the conference will release a report summarizing how 15 colleges boosted their graduation rates.

It's well known in academic circles that colleges with the highest admissions standards have the highest graduation rates. …

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