EVANSVILLE—Academic advising for incoming freshmen will be given greater emphasis at the University of Southern Indiana, President Linda Bennett told the board of trustees on Friday.
USI will launch a program in the fall aimed at helping new students choose a major and keeping them on a path to graduate.
The new initiative will be in Pott College of Science, Engineering and Education and the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Bennett said she hopes funding will be available in two years to take it campuswide.
Bennett said a larger commitment to early advising is vital to producing more graduates.
She said, for example, that USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is among Indiana’s most selective and rigorous programs of its type, and it’s not unusual for students to be admitted and soon decide it’s not for them.
“We want to be there for those students at the front end to help them choose a Plan B,” Bennett said. “There will be something else out there to stir their passion.”
The state has implemented performance-based funding for higher education institutions based on rates of retention and on-time completion.
Figures compiled by USI show that among 2011 graduates who entered the university as new freshmen (not including transfer students), 36 percent graduated within four years, 48 percent graduated in 5 to 6 years and the remainder took seven years or more.
Bennett, while saying USI wants to grow its overall graduates and its on-time graduates, also told the board of trustees on Friday that performance funding formulas don’t take certain factors into account.
A fourth of USI students are older than 25.
“Our students are coming to us from all walks of life in all times of life,” Bennett said. “ … You’re talking about many paths to a degree completion.”
She told the board USI also remains committed to offering dual credit opportunities in area high schools.
About 1,000 high school students are enrolled in such courses.
“Having better-prepared students is a major predictor of on-time graduation,” said Bennett, who is completing her third year as USI’s third president.
In other business Friday, the trustees were updated on the status of campus construction projects.
One soon-to-begin project is a $2.5 million renovation of The Loft, a large dining area in the University Center. The first phase of work on the University Bookstore, costing $600,000, also is about to begin.
The cost of those projects is to come from dining and bookstore reserve accounts.
The board approved a resolution of appreciation to outgoing trustee Steven Schenck, who is not seeking a new four-year appointment to the panel.