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International Student Recruiting and Retention in Post-graduate STEM Education

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Graduate Recruitment and Retention

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Andres Alejandro Herrera University of Arkansas

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Andres Herrera served as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Arkansas College of Engineering where he focused his efforts on engineering outreach and undergraduate recruitment. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Engineering and M.S. in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas.

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Eric Specking University of Arkansas Orcid 16x16

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Eric Specking serves as the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment for the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas. He directs the engineering recruitment office, most of the College of Engineering’s K-12 outreach programs, and the college's summer programs. Specking is actively involved in the Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management divisions and is the current Chair of the ASEE Diversity Committee. Specking received a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas and is currently working on a PhD in Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas.

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Richard Ham University of Arkansas

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Dr. Richard Ham is a seasoned transportation executive with 36 years of experience in security, safety operations, program administration, compliance and enforcement.
Dr. Ham retired from the United States Air Force after a distinguished career, serving as a senior air traffic controller, airfield manager, security executive, and commander of the command and control school. After his retirement, Dr. Ham worked for the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA), holding positions as the senior executive responsible for regulatory compliance and managing the official enforcement automated data systems as well as the world’s largest K9 explosive program, general aviation, regulatory enforcement and regulatory risk management..
Dr. Ham began his career at TSA by serving as an Assistant Federal Security Director for Inspections. In this role, Dr. Ham was responsible for the day-to-day management of TSA personnel conducting screening activities, regulatory inspections, law enforcement, administrative, and budgetary functions for all airports in Arkansas. Additionally, Dr. Ham provided technical assistance to TSA management on five major national investigations involving violations of Federal criminal laws and regulations.
As the General Manager of the Compliance Program for the Office of Security Operations, Dr. Ham set policy for 2100 inspectors and established the TSA Surface Training Academy. While in this position, Dr. Ham established policy to train Senior Executive Service leaders, inspectors, Federal Security Directors, Federal Air Marshals, international students, and other TSA personnel in mass transit safety, operations, equipment and technology, and other modal-specific security strategies and data-driven processes. He also developed, delivered, and approved curriculum for web-based, online, video, virtual and traditional classroom modalities for security, operations and leadership courses. Additionally, Dr. Ham was a key contributor to several studies on security gaps and staffing models.
While serving as the Assistant Federal Security Director at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Dr. Ham managed the entire TSA regulatory program, including operational K9 units, at the agency’s fourth busiest airport. In this capacity, Dr. Ham also oversaw the merger of American and US Airways, forming the largest air carrier in the world.
Dr. Ham currently serves as the associate director of the largest graduate program at the University of Arkansas. He is a recognized academic professional and practitioner, teaching graduate courses on homeland security, unmanned aircraft systems, leadership, global competition, aviation Security Management Systems (SeMS), automation tools, enforcement theory and transportation security. His research interests are in the areas of global supply chain, security, SeMS, compliance theory, risk management, project management and security optimization models.

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International students bring a different set of characteristics and challenges to college recruiting. Graduate Programs receive several applications from international students despite reduced international recruiting efforts. In order to evaluate retention of international students, it is relevant to analyze the process international students used from application to matriculation. An analysis of the recruiting funnel and program features provides a better understanding of the application and admission process for international students and their persistence in graduate education in the U.S. This paper examines the flow of students through the recruiting funnel by performing a regression analysis, which assists with evaluating the relationships among different variables in the recruiting process. It is hypothesized that the analysis will reveal possible areas of improvements through the recruiting funnel that may lead to an increase in the retention of the student from application to matriculation. Once these relationships are established and evaluated, a set of recommendations will be given to increase international recruitment, improve the allocation of resources and boost features of the program that are appealing to prospective students.

Herrera, A. A., & Specking, E., & Ham, R. (2018, June), International Student Recruiting and Retention in Post-graduate STEM Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30708

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