We believe that every student admitted to the University of South Florida will succeed. The student success movement at USF is built on that simple, fundamental belief. We hold ourselves accountable for our performance, so we have responded well to the new accountability rules and expectations of improved student outcomes.
Since the formation of a Student Success Task Force in 2009-2010, student success has been a strategic priority for the entire institution. We introduced or strengthened a wide range of persistence and completion initiatives, including but not limited to the professionalization of academic advising, course redesigns, and living-learning communities. We saw impressive gains in our retention and graduation rates, but in 2014, the rate of our improvements began to slow down. We had hit a performance plateau that lasted nearly three years.
First-year persistence rates stubbornly hovered around 88 percent, and our six-year graduation rates stalled at 68 percent, both marks just below the thresholds (90 percent and 70 percent) required for USF to qualify as a preeminent university according to state of Florida guidelines. To reach the next level of student success and earn additional state dollars for our performance, we needed to ensure that we retained or graduated an additional 80 students. That’s all it would take to become a preeminent university.