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October 28, 2010

LA Grad Act agreements approved

Louisiana's Board of Regents approved the LA GRAD Act agreements, which seek to improve the number of graduates and produce a 7 percent increase in the statewide graduation rates in six years.

The act specifies productivity goals, including annual performance measures that will result in important improvements for Louisiana's public universities by the end of the six-year timeline.

"This legislation provides a framework that allows ULM to track its progress. Accountability is key — it sets higher expectations for all of us," said Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Lisa Miller.

The GRAD Act was approved by the legislature in the last session and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal in June. Under the newly created law, the BOR has the responsibility for entering into six-year performance agreements with participating institutions, including the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

According to Interim Provost Eric Pani, ULM's first to second year and first to third year retention rates have been on the rise since 2005.

"In addition, our degree productivity for undergraduates has increased overall since the 2005-2006 academic year," he said. "And, we had our largest graduation for bachelor's degrees in ULM history in 2009-2010."

Added Pani, "These numbers demonstrate that we have focused our current and past efforts on providing services and making the programmatic changes necessary to help us reach the goals prescribed by the LA GRAD Act for quite a while."

Some of ULM's efforts to improve student outcomes include opening a new Clarke M. Williams Student Success Center and implementing innovative technologies, such as FlightPath, which assists students in tracking their academic progress toward a degree. As a result of these efforts, ULM has seen a combined 15 percent increase in the first to second and second to third retention categories prior to this initiative.

Additional efforts to reach students include early/dual enrollment, as well as expansion of distance learning and adult education opportunities.

"In aggregate, these programs have dramatically increased retention rates, especially among under-prepared students," said Pani.

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