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Chancellor Cheek’s White House Initiatives

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek was invited to visit the White House in January 2014 for a summit about increasing college access for low-income students.

In preparation for the summit, participating universities were asked to commit to plans for expanding college opportunity. UT plans to implement three programs aimed at recruiting academically qualified low-income students and helping ensure their success once they arrive:

  • A coaching program for students who face barriers to their success at the university. A retention index will be used to understand potential risk factors that can prevent students from successfully completing their degree. The university will hire professional coaches to help students transition to university life and develop academic and nonacademic success strategies. A pilot program is already under way.
  • A summer math camp for incoming freshmen. The camp will target students who are interested in math-intensive majors but do not have strong ACT math scores. The camp will help students develop the needed math skills or identify majors that interest them but have less focus on math. The camp will launch this summer.
  • Expansion of transfer programs with community colleges. Offering support from both UT and the community colleges, these programs set clear benchmarks for successful transfer to UT. The university will invest in professional staff, including an admissions counselor who already has been hired to work with community colleges, and will develop support materials to enhance recruitment, transition, and retention.

Read the whole story.


Game Change on Graduation (white paper)

Graduation and retention rates have become common success metrics in higher education. These statistics are at the core of a growing political discussion to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.

The current six-year graduation rate for public colleges and universities in the United States is 57%, a percentage that is broadly deemed unsustainable. A post-secondary educated workforce, many argue, is necessary to ameliorate the widening earning gap and resulting hit to the middle class. As more jobs become automated, demand for employees with an associate or bachelor’s degree will outstrip supply, a process that many say has already begun.

In response to these troubling trends, the University of Tennessee made graduation and retention rate improvement an institutional commitment. UT’s success is worthy of investigation at a time when graduation metrics have become part of the public dialogue, but have shown little movement on a national level.

Download the white paper

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

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