The university also experienced a significant increase in student retention.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s six-year graduation rate reached 40 percent for the 2020-2021 academic year. This is a record high since the university began reporting the six-year graduation rate in 1998. The university coupled this figure with an 81 percent retention rate at the end of the spring semester.
“We are proud to acknowledge this achievement and to recognize the leadership roles that our faculty and staff have played in making this possible,” chancellor Laurence Alexander said. “The diligence of the entire university has allowed us to defy the odds created by a global pandemic and achieve success in our enrollment, graduation and retention goals.”
Since assuming the role of chancellor in 2013, Alexander has prioritized improving student success, according to a news release. Under his leadership, both UAPB’s six-year graduation and overall retention rates have increased from 25.8 percent to 40 percent and from 71.5 percent to 81 percent, respectively.
Additionally, the retention rate for first-time full-time entering cohorts increased from 62.1 to 74.2 percent. In 2016, this focus led to the creation of the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success.
“Achieving the 40 percent mark on our graduation rate is truly a team win,” said Braque Talley Sr., vice chancellor of enrollment management and student success. “Reaching this benchmark is the culmination of goal setting, strategic collaboration, data management, seamless lines of communication and being intentional about our support for students. However, we refuse to rest on our laurels and are committed to further increasing our graduation rate.”
Nearly 270 students earned degrees during UAPB’s spring 2021 commencement ceremony on May 8. The graduating class, comprised of students from the 2015 cohort — which is represented by the number of first-time, first-year undergraduates who completed their degrees within six years — drove the six-year graduation rate to 40 percent.
Rita Conley, director of the UAPB student success center, acknowledged the role of the university’s synergistic approach to ensuring student matriculation and the importance of maintaining this strategy for future success.
“Every academic department and co-curricular unit played an important role in this great achievement, Conley said. “We will continue to work together to increase student success and develop innovative support programs such as our student success workshops, academic recovery programs and our senior completion programs to offer our students the academic and personal support they need to earn their degrees from UAPB.”