The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has five- and six-year graduation rates that lagsubstantially behind those of other public research universities that we consider our peers.While graduation rates have improved in recent years, our six-year graduation rate, at 51%, isamong the lowest in the Big Ten and (according to
U.S. News and World Report
) the lowestamong the 50 top-ranked public universities.While we have known for many years that our graduation rates are low, and while graduationrates have been a concern to the University, we have not focused on comprehensive andsystematic efforts to improve our graduation rates. We have often excused the situation bysaying that our graduation rates were low because we were an urban institution, because ourstudents have to work more than other students, or because of a host of other reasons. Thisreport examines all of those reasons and argues that none is sufficient to explain why ourgraduation rates trail those of comparable institutions.We argue in this report that the University must make a conscious, focused effort to addressthis problem, for the sake of both the students and the institution. We make recommendationsin four major categories: communicating clear and explicit institutional expectations, makinga commitment to help students stay on track, removing institutional barriers and providingincentives for success, and balancing access with success. Each of these areas has specificsuggestions that will need further discussion by various University policy groups and othermembers of the University community.While we believe that our recommendations are an important starting point, we also want tochallenge others to bring forward additional suggestions. Student success, measured in termsof timely graduation, needs to be a shared priority. We need the commitment and ideas of faculty, staff, and students to move us forward on this important agenda.