Best Practices for Retention (Extended Deadline)

deadline for submissions: 
June 10, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Anthony Dotterman/SAMLA
contact email: 

While university administrators have many ways to assess a program’s or department’s effectiveness, student retention is one of the more controversial measures.  Particularly, retention often seems inherently at odds with our roles as college professors since—fairly or not—issues of retention are conflated with concerns over grade inflation and academic rigor.  Yet, as studies show, universities lose students over the first two years of college for a variety of reasons: financial, the absence of strong academic mentoring and peer relationships, the strains of commuting, as well as family pressures and responsibilities that threaten to derail academic pursuits. Indeed, many academic initiatives which outwardly profess to improve student retention and are based on concrete data—impelling students take at least a fifteen credit course load in a semester, for example—often seem counter-intuitive in that they fail to account for the individual or personal obstacles students face in going to school full time to attain their degree.   The following roundtable to be held at SAMLA 90 in Birmingham, Alabama in November 2018, therefore, invites scholars and administrators to share their best practices for student retention.  Special weight will be given to papers that look at how administration and academic departments and programs can make retention plans collaborative rather than seemingly punitive.  How can universities take a comprehensive and activist approach to university retention while being sensitive to the socio-economic barriers to education our students face outside the university? Please email abstracts of 500 words or less to by June 10th, 2018.