- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Southern University is trying to improve customer service and reach out more to students who are struggling.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1zDPbrz ) the efforts, outlined in a recent report to the state Board of Regents, are a direct response to the university’s failure to meet the state’s GRAD Act measures, which are meant to improve student outcomes.

The Board of Regents has vowed to help cash-strapped and academically struggling Southern regain sound footing, though some members expressed frustration that it took the GRAD Act failure for the school to implement the new policies.

Earlier this year, the board learned that three of the Southern University System’s campuses were the only ones in the state that didn’t meet the measures outlined in the GRAD Act, which incentivize performance by giving schools the authority to raise tuition and granting other autonomies.

But colleges that fail to meet the GRAD Act benchmarks have an opportunity to gradually earn back some of their funding if they enter into a contract with the board and build a remediation plan.

“I think even they would say they’ve not done well,” said Board of Regents member Albert Sam, of Baton Rouge. “We know what the solutions are. Do we have the political will to make the solutions happen?”

Southern’s first-quarter update on the GRAD Act remediation plan clocks in at 74 pages for all three campuses.

In the lead-up to the fall semester, Southern’s flagship campus made calls to about 1,200 students who enrolled last year but had not yet enrolled for the current year. It also started requiring students with less than 36 hours - equal to about three semesters - to meet with academic advisers before registering for this semester so they could get additional guidance.

About 900 students who had fewer than 12 hours to graduate - a typical semester of college - were contacted and urged to finish, both so they could get their degrees and the school could increase its graduation figures.

The Shreveport campus purchased new training materials to help nursing students pass their professional exams, and the law school added a new academic counselor, among other efforts.

LeAnn Detillier, assistant commissioner for program administration, said board staff was still waiting for demonstrated results from the efforts. The report says the results will be part of the second-quarter update, which is due in January.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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