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University Freshman Retention in North Carolina

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Two-year Institutions Help Fill the STEM Pipeline

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1400.1 - 25.1400.11



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Paper Authors


George D. Ford Western Carolina University

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George Ford is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management at Western Carolina University. Ford worked for more than 15 years in the corporate world in plant engineering and environmental engineering positions and managed numerous construction projects as a Plant Engineer in the paper, plastics and rubber industries including warehouses, manufacturing buildings, and utilities infrastructures.

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Robert Elliot Steffen Western Carolina University

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Robert Steffen, Ph.D., P.E., joined the Construction Management Department at Western Carolina University in 2011 after working 10 years in the civil engineering, engineering consulting, and manufacturing profession. Upon completing the Georgia Tech civil engineering graduate school program, Steffen worked as an Assistant Professor in the University of New Hampshire Civil Engineering Department.

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Robert Wayne Ford Western Carolina University

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Robert Wayne Ford spent his first 37 years working in numerous trades, but always managed to move into leadership positions after a short period of time. After his father's death in 1997, Ford ended his career on the road and accepted a supervisory position with a local manufacturer in Arkansas. In 1999, Ford was given an opportunity through the NAFTA agreement to get a degree from the local two-year college. During his endeavors at NPCC, he was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and received the George O. Bierkoe Distinguished Member Award for his contributions to the Garland County Foster Parent Association. In May of 2002, Ford received his A.A. degree from National Park Community College and he was offered a scholarship to complete his undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas. Ford participated in the honors program on the TAMU-C campus and was the first from his department in 12 years to be pinned on stage at graduation. Because of his dedication to the college the president offered him one-year in state tuition towards a graduate degree and he completed all 36 hours of graduate studies in 12 months with a 4.0 GPA.

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Student retention in the North Carolina University SystemAbstract- The North Carolina University System is composed of sixteen individual, publicinstitutions located throughout the state. The current economic situation prompted anexamination of student retention and graduation rates at each of the System’s sixteen institutions.Administrators at each institution have been charged to review the status of student retention attheir institution and to take the necessary measures to improve retention rates to set goals.Taxpayers want to know their tax dollars are well spent. In North Carolina, retention of students at theUniversity of North Carolina campuses is of utmost importance for institutional administrators to ensureefficient stewardship of taxpayers’ funds. Retention of students is becoming a fundamental considerationfor all university faculty and staff at North Carolina higher education institutions.Initial examination indicates that some campuses have lower average freshman retention ratesthan other campuses due substantially to the level of freshman high school preparation asreflected by Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. Student performance on the SAT is aprimary indicator of first year student success, but other factors may also influence retention andprovide opportunities for faculty and administrators to improve retention rates above expectedlevels as predicted by the SAT alone. Student advising, student support services and studenteconomic status are among the other factors considered to potentially affect retention.This paper examines student retention at one institution and provides a comparison of retentionrates to the other fifteen institutions. After comparing SAT scores and retention rates at thesixteen state institutions, a regression model was built to predict expected retention rates whichwere compared to recent historical retention rates. Recommendations to improve retention ratesare provided. The citizens of North Carolina demand high quality education at a reasonable cost.Keywords: student enrollment, student retention, scholastic aptitude scores

Ford, G. D., & Steffen, R. E., & Ford, R. W. (2012, June), University Freshman Retention in North Carolina Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22157

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