SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

The Three Rs of IU Southeast Success: Retention, Retention, and Retention
By Chancellor Ray Wallace

Good Morning!

First, I would like to formally welcome everyone to another academic year at Indiana University Southeast. While summer school on this campus is always productive, there is something very pleasant about seeing our new and returning students populating the halls and classrooms across our beautiful campus. Additionally, it does my heart good to see the new cadre of faculty and staff that we have been most fortunate to recruit.

It is also hard to fathom that this is actually my sixth state-of-the-campus address, and as I look back over my last five years, I’m amazed at how much the campus has evolved and matured. Before this “red-hot economy” emerged after what can only be called a disastrous recession, we traditionally measured higher education growth in terms of enrollment and credit hours.

However, since then we have used other measures by which we can gauge growth. Specifically, organizations and institutions of higher education can mature through the continued development of curriculum, modes of delivery, services, and infrastructure and these are the types of growth we have experienced here at IU Southeast over the last five years! With such growth, our roots are now stronger and deeper. Basically, we are a much different institution today, with fewer students, than we were five years ago. While not bigger, per se, we are substantially better!

What follows is a quick overview of our strategic accomplishments over the last five years, which focus on new and expanded academic programs; new online and collaborative offerings; new enrollment management strategies and services; updated facilities; a solid budget with alignment of revenue and expenses; and that we are the first regional campus to achieve our bicentennial campaign goal. Again, this will be a quick overview. You will have access to a complete list of accomplishments that will be provided as an addendum to the speech in the online version.

The various academic units and their administrators have responded well to the call for more degree programs, majors, minors, and certificates — at both undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2014, we listed fifty undergraduate and graduate programs in our inventory. Since then we have added or revised 131 undergraduate bachelor degree plans and sub-plans and increased the number of graduate credentials to 52. We have increased the percentage of IU Southeast students taking at least one online course from 20% to 47%. We have added several fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in conjunction with other regional IU campuses. Five years ago, we were at the bottom of the list of regional campuses offering online courses, and we have evolved into a respectable second place. Our faculty have worked hard to become stronger online educators. We now have twenty-six faculty members who have earned Quality Matters certification. We have increased the number of 2 plus 2 agreements with JCTC and developed transfer articulations with Ivy Tech. The campus met the goal of submitting the Carnegie application for community engagement this past year. We successfully completed the HLC Persistence and Completion Academy, and the Persistence and Completion Council continues its work in the area of student success. The Higher Learning Commission visited the campus earlier this week and provided positive and favorable comments in their exit statement. Thank you to all faculty and staff who spent several years preparing for this visit!

In the last five years, the services and opportunities offered by our Student Affairs departments have evolved to meet the changing needs of our students. The demand for personal counseling has increased and through connections with other universities, we have been able to secure additional staffing by offering practicum experiences to graduate students. Through these partnerships, we have been able to fully serve our students. Additionally, we have established a food pantry and emergency grant funding to aid students. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the food pantry – our students are appreciative of this important service. Our students are giving back to their community more than ever, with a 19% increase in total volunteer hours. On-campus housing remains a thriving environment with full occupancy every year. Our student-athletes consistently perform very well in the classroom, averaging a 3.0 GPA and consistently graduating at a higher rate than the general student population. Our Center for Mentoring programs continue to show great success. On average, since fall 2014, students connected to the mentoring program persist to graduation at a higher rate than the general student population. To this end, expansion of the program was established for this current academic year through collaboration between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. We could always use more mentors, if you are interested in serving as a mentor, please let us know.

The various units in Administrative Affairs have been good stewards of the financial, physical, and human resources of the campus. Over the last five years, we have maintained a balanced budget despite a 12% decline in credit hours from 2014 to 2019. We have added two new foodservice concepts in response to student surveys and feedback – specifically, Subway in the Library and Papa John’s in the Commons Food Court. The Ogle Center continues to serve the regional community with top-notch artists, performances, and productions, including many IU Southeast ensembles and groups. Its impact on the community is beyond measure! Over the last five years, we have completed over 60 capital projects totaling 17 million dollars, funded mainly by state capital appropriations. Our buildings and grounds have never looked better! Also, we have implemented sustainable practices and strategies that will help to preserve the environment and reduce our consumption of natural resources. On that topic, the replacement of five 1970s era H-VAC systems has led to an 18% reduction in utility expenditures!

One recent accomplishment deserves special mention. In June of this year, after five years of visioning and planning, we opened Student Central in University Center South. Student Central is a one-stop service location where students can go for bursar, financial aid, and registrar guidance and assistance. Student Central is located in the space that was previously used for bursar services. This project represents the collaborative work of Academic Affairs, Administrative Affairs, and Student Affairs. It is a tangible example that multiple areas can join together to improve the student experience. I congratulate all involved for this amazing accomplishment!

The Advancement Division has helped to move the institution forward by seeking additional funding and building relationships with a broad range of stakeholders. Highlights of this fund-raising period include major gifts from retired faculty and staff, solid banking and other corporate support from previously untapped sources, and on-going current faculty and staff giving campaigns all continue to grow. We continue to raise impressive giving totals from the two-state region through our annual Chancellor’s Medallion, Athletic, Alumni, and Founders’ Day Banquets, as well as through our discipline-specific fund-raising events. In this campaign, we have attracted our largest single donor gift of $1.9 million, and several million dollar-plus gifts from retired faculty and others. Because of this coordinated effort, we were the first IU regional campus to reach our bicentennial campaign goal, and we did it a year early! We are grateful for the impressive donor support we have received from the community. I must mention that we are planning the first IU Southeast trip to Ireland, which will occur in 2020. Please be on the lookout for our upcoming information sessions. We’d love to have you join us!

We are a better campus today because of the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff – your commitment, dedication, and creativity during my first five years has been truly remarkable and much appreciated! Indeed, this organizational growth that we have experienced in the last five years has prepared us for the next five years, and as your chancellor, I must share with you that the next five years may be one of the most challenging eras in higher education this country has ever experienced.

Most regional colleges and universities, public or private, have seen declines in enrollment over the last decade as our nation’s population first entered and dealt with its disastrous recession and then later joined its subsequent and far-reaching economic upswing. We here at IU Southeast, like many others, have seen continued enrollment declines as students decided that a job in the hand was a better proposition than the promise of a future job in the bush! Frankly, those of us in higher education who follow these trends have been surprised at the rapidity of these enrollment declines, especially this year.

We face a number of “perfect storms” – or new structural realities, if you will – developing on the horizon. We see regional and national demographic trends that point to fewer students interested in four-year degrees, at least what we offer, and how we offer them. Only 64% of high school graduates in Indiana actually even attempt post-secondary education – a relatively very small percentage, so Indiana has a relatively small college-going rate to begin with. We know that the student success rates (defined by graduation and transfer rates) are diminishing at an alarming rate at our feeder community college institutions. Additionally, if more non-traditional students, a population we used to rely on heavily here, are working fulltime, we will see fewer of them considering adding college-going to their already hectic schedules. We know that the longer they stay away from higher education, the fewer of them will actually begin attending at all. We see more students attending who cannot decide on a major and that even those with good college grades lose interest and soon drop out.

We see too many juniors, and even seniors, deciding to “stop out” due to the lure of an immediate job offer – very few of these students will return to us. We lose 40% of our newly-enrolled first-year students in their first year (many often before the first semester is completed)! What’s more, we are beginning to see large dropouts at the sophomore and junior years now.

We know the enrollment “cliff” is coming; it is a statistical certainty due to a sharp decrease in fertility during the Great Recession that the high school graduation trough around 2026 will only deepen. We know that the needed repairs to the Sherman Minton Bridge could create havoc on our enrollment traffic, figuratively and literally, if we do not change our model! We know that our competition, especially new online competitors, are producing new online programs into our marketplace very quickly – sometimes more quickly than we can. Finally, we know that many of our students face financial and academic challenges that make them more susceptible to dropping out.

We are not immune to the transformation that is taking place in American higher education. We are already beginning to see the signs. As of census for the fall semester, our headcount is down 5% and our credit hours are down 5%. Our competition and others in our area are also seeing similar, if not greater, declines in enrollment, and quite frankly, none of us expected a decline of this magnitude. It occurred regardless, despite all of our best efforts, and I’m sharing this information with you, not to cause panic, but to encourage the entire campus community to rally together in a spirit of enthusiasm to embrace our new reality. We must accept the fact that our enrollment is down, despite our best efforts to achieve stable credit hours for the fall semester. We must work together to formulate the necessary strategies to stabilize enrollment and provide the very best educational experience for our students.

First, let me say that we all have been working hard as a campus to improve our retention and we have made tremendous progress in the area of student success. We have more than doubled our graduation rates. During the past two years, we have increased our fall to spring retention rate by 3.7 percentage points. The regional campus average is 1.9%. So, our fall to spring retention is almost twice the regional campus average, and 3.7% is the highest among regional campuses. This means we are setting ourselves up to see some positive gains in fall to fall or retention to the 3rd semester. Indeed, last year, we increased our fall to fall retention rate by 3 tenths of a percent. Now, that does not sound like a lot, but it was the highest among the regional campuses. This is hard work. Retention will only come in small increments. However, every point, or every tenth of a point, is meaningful, and behind these points, are real students, real people, real families, real dreams and aspirations being realized. However, given the “enrollment cliff” and the other problems already mentioned, we are going to have to accelerate our advances even more since retention still remains our greatest challenge as an institution. We must redouble our efforts with retention since the stakes just got bigger.

I need to stress this point. Retention must be everyone’s job.

You may be thinking, “It’s not my job to keep students at the university.” However, given our enrollment numbers, and our stop-outs from our various student categories across the campus, I must beg to differ. With the projected declines in enrollment we all foresee, comes the reality that we will potentially see fewer new, first-year students coming to campus. Hence, if we are to keep our academic programs successful, if we are to keep our clubs and organizations healthy, if we are to keep our lodges full and our athletic events well supported, then we all must play our respective roles in advancing these retention numbers. We must do a better job of retaining the students we recruit. This is for our students - so they go on to fulfill their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. And for our community – because as a region we must increase our college attainment rates. College attainment rates are the key driver to increasing household income and propelling economic development. As we look ahead to the next five years, retention must be our core mission. Retention is everyone’s job, and everyone will be expected to help.

We do have some growth opportunities. Working in an IU campus near a large city (Louisville) has its advantages. With Kentucky in our backyard, we can cultivate more applications. With an IU degree on offer, we can sell “quality” more easily, and with increased numbers available to us, we have the potential to improve our situation. Yes, we will see some critical growth through online programs, and some additional growth through the development of more graduate programs.

But the greatest opportunity lies in students who are already here. They have already been recruited, and our number one job should be to retain and sustain them until they persist to graduation! To help students persist, we need to ensure that they stay engaged and continue to work towards their degree.

Simply stated, our single greatest opportunity to overcome these enrollment declines is to improve our overall student retention. In the next ten years, we need to be at a persistence rate of 80% (from our current rate of 60%) in the returning fall semester. Going from a retention rate of 60% to 80% means that we retain 200 additional students every year. That assumes that we keep our incoming class at 1,000 students. So, we retain an additional 200 students in a year. If we take this over a 4-year period, we are adding 800 students to our overall campus enrollment. That is almost a 20% increase in overall campus enrollments and should be sufficient to overcome this demographic cliff by 2025.

To this end, I will be calling together a Crimson-Ribbon Panel on Retention Improvement comprised of a select group of faculty, staff, students, and administrators. Their charge will be to advance current initiatives and develop a series of new actions we can implement as soon as 2020 to improve retention. Together, we need to consider the types of changes needed to ensure more students persist and so our challenge is to create a more engaged environment in which our students can persist. We need to plan and implement this environment carefully, but quickly, so that more of these students will achieve their goals. My role as Chancellor, along with the cabinet, faculty senate, and academic deans is to help navigate and remove – to the greatest extent possible – any roadblocks that may keep us from reaching our goals. We will, of course, have to work within the framework of University policies.

We can do this, but we will need to support the findings of this newly formed Crimson-Ribbon Panel on Retention Improvement at IU Southeast. Retention is everyone’s job and everyone will be expected to help. We are going to succeed in this endeavor if we understand that everyone needs to pull in the same direction.

Thank you.


Advances in Academic Affairs

The academic affairs units have responded well to the call for more degree programs, majors, minors, and certificates—at both undergraduate and graduate levels and marketed them digitally. Emphasis has been placed on new degree programs linked to emerging employment trends, increasing internship opportunities, and more conversations with prospective employers. Our schools have all been quite successful in their discipline-specific accreditations. This week we welcomed the Higher Learning Commission to campus for our 10-year reaffirmation review.

In 2014, fifty academic programs (undergraduate and graduate) were listed in our inventory. Since then:

  • 131 undergraduate bachelor’s degree plans and sub-plans have been added/revised and the number of graduate credentials has increased to 52.
  • The percentage of IU Southeast students taking at least one online course has increased from 20% to 47%.
  • Several fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs have been added in conjunction with other regional IU campuses.
  • IU Southeast has developed into a leading regional campus in terms of emerging online offerings; we started at the bottom of the list of regional campuses offering online degrees five years ago, and we have evolved into a respectable second place.
  • Finally, our faculty have worked hard to become stronger online educators. For example, 25 of our faculty have developed distinct online syllabi, which follow the Quality Matters structure and regulations; a total of 32 IU faculty across all campuses have achieved this important goal.

Advances in Administrative Affairs

Administrative affairs units have been involved in campus maintenance and rehabilitation, beautification and general attractiveness, sustainability, and increasing fiscal and physical efficiencies where possible. To date:

  • 66 capital projects for $17.4 million have been started and/or completed
  • Utility expenditures have been reduced by 18% from FY15 to FY19
  • Two new foodservice concepts have been added: Subway and Papa John’s. Total dining sales exceeded $1 million for the first time in 2017
  • The Commons Food Court was renovated in 2018
  • A balanced budget has been maintained as the campus experienced a 12% decline in credit hours from 2014 to 2019 (2018 budget reduction plan). The net surplus in the general fund from FY15 to FY19 has exceeded $1.5 million
  • Two new financial systems have been implemented (Chrome River, Buy.IU)
  • Grounds work has been successfully outsourced, as both a quality improvement and budget reduction initiative
  • The Bicentennial Trail was created. It will be partially funded from a University Bicentennial Grant
  • A Comprehensive Public Land Management Plan was created in 2017
  • Campus beautification, accessibility, and safety projects were successfully coordinated with the City of New Albany.
  • IU Southeast successfully acquired all remaining residential properties on the northern border of the campus.
  • A variety of sustainable practices and services were successfully implemented (e.g., single-stream recycling, elimination of styrofoam from Coffee Shop, etc.).

The campus ended FY19 with a surplus of $1.6 million. This historic accomplishment occurred in a year when credit hours declined by 2.1%. We were able to save money from vacant and open positions, and find savings in other non-compensation lines such as utilities. This surplus was a one-time event. We have already filled many of the positions that were vacant last year.  While we have worked hard to realign the operating budget, we will have more work to do to get ready for our FY21 operating budget as credit hours continue to fluctuate.

Advances in Student Affairs:

The student affairs units have received several important accolades. These include:

  • A 2016 report from ranking IU Southeast the 12th safest college campus in the U.S.
  • A 2016 report from Credit Sesame, ranking IU Southeast 93rd on the “Best Schools for Your Buck” list among U.S. Colleges
  • A 2016 listing in Niche’s Best College Dorms
  • For two consecutive years, IU Southeast has been recognized as a promising place to work in student affairs by Diverse Issues in Higher Education and was ranked 14th on the list of top 100 universities for students with children by
  • IU Southeast has been ranked with a veteran-friendly designation and a top-ranked safe campus by several publications.

In terms of retention and persistence, we have successfully supported the application and admission for IU Southeast to be a member of the HLC Persistence and Completion Academy. The core group of faculty and staff led campus initiatives to demonstrate our intensified commitment to creating a culture of student success. The formal academy has concluded but the initiatives continue. Additionally, we successfully supported and advocated for a new position to focus solely on student persistence (Student Persistence Coordinator).

Student affairs related grants include:

  • ICHE Grant to support 21st Century Scholars in 2015 ($245,000). We funded 10 tutoring vouchers per semester for each 21st Century Scholar and engaged them in additional programs on study skills, financial literacy, and increased occurrences of mentoring from upper-class students. This grant also provided this population with additional career readiness programming and funded a study lab with state-of-the-art computers to assist with this population’s perpetuity
  • Indiana Scholar Corp/AmeriCorps ($17,500 living allowance, $2,000 programmatic funds for member)
  • Student Health 101 by Floyd Memorial Hospital Foundation ($4,800 program subscription)
  • Office of Violence Against Women grant ($300,000 over three years)
  • Indiana National Guard ($20,000)
  • ICHE School and Community Partnership grant ($10,000)
  • Career Development Partnership Program (IU Grant) ($10,000) – consisting of the following initiatives: Employer to Employer Best Practices for Hosting an Inter event, 5 Career Excursions for students, specialized career fairs and resume writing workshops
Campus Involvement/Community
  • Co-Curricular Transcript: Grenadier Central Collegiate Link launched (2015). A platform for students to get connected and log their involvement on-campus and with community volunteer organizations
  • Developed and financially supported HPER Scholar program to assist with the maintenance of intramural participation
  • Awarded two Peer Prevention Scholars to implement over 13 programs (18-19) to address campus climate related to sexual misconduct
  • Advocated for and supported the first annual Multicultural Student Graduation Celebration.
  • Added community agency partnership award to Campus Commitment to Student Learning Awards luncheon. The first recipient was the New Albany Housing Authority for their partnership with the School of Nursing and the School of Education
  • 2016, 2017, and 2018: On average, 65% of students who responded to the Graduating Student survey indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with opportunities to engage in activities on campus and with community service
  • Began the tradition of the high-five line at Induction Day
  • Bystander Intervention one-credit class was offered fall and spring semester with about 12 students for each class
  • Increased AmeriCorps ScholarCorps presence in volunteering opportunities and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service event to new sites: American Protection Association, Autumn Woods Health Campus, Clean Socks Hope, Green Valley Care Center, Harbor House, Morgan Elementary School, Norton Children’s Hospital, Our Place, St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Charities, and Mustard Seed
  • In 2018, 69% of new students attended a campus activity (72% in 2017); and 83% of new students identified/joined a student organization (80% in 2017) after the fifth week of the fall semester
  • A total of 14,354 volunteer hours were reported (19% increase), compared to 12,104 hours for 2017-2018
  • Greek Life added 57 women and 43 men, both increases. Greek Life volunteer hours increased by 14%. Academic achievement also improved across group averages
  • Our fraternity and sorority members reported over 11,101 hours of community service this year (14.4% increase) compared to 9,703 from last year
  • The Adult Student Center partnered with the Family Scholar House, MensWork, UniKids, Hosparus, and Watersteps for service-learning initiatives
  • Children’s Center enrollment increased by 21%, 53 to 64. Usage hours increased from 18,682 hours to 26,804 hours or a 43% increase. Increased enrollment in CLC was due to promotion of On My Way Pre-K state program referrals, leading to increased hours usage.
  • Dean of Students created a marijuana use self-screening brochure to be handed out by Resident Assistants, IUSPD Officers, and conduct officers to address harm reduction for students who smoke off-campus.
  • Steady increase of student organizations, with 2019 ending with 156 organizations
  • Housing has had full occupancy since fall 2014.
  • 2019 integrated the use of Custom Viewbook for recruitment
  • Since 2015 have highlighted student successes at the pre-commencement gathering of the university administration
  • We have consistently had an increase in campus visits. The overall campus visit structure has been updated to improve the visitor experience. This includes different options and length of visit (meeting with faculty, etc.)
Student Services
  • Since fall 2014, over 200 registered internship opportunities with Career Development
  • The demand for personal counseling has increased every year since fall 2014. Through connections with other area universities, we have been able to secure additional staff
  • Expanding by providing practicum experiences to graduate students. This has allowed us to maintain a high level of service to our students for a very minimal budget impact.
  • Helped champion the creation of Student Central, a one-stop-shop for students related to billing, financial aid, registration and records
  • Supported restructuring to hire a Scholarship Coordinator
  • Established food pantry and emergency grant funding
  • Students who participate with the Center for Mentoring on average, since fall 2014, persist to graduation at a higher rate than the general student population. To this end, expansion of the program was established for 2019-2020 by allocating additional funding.
  • Student-athletes consistently perform very well in the classroom, averaging a 3.0 GPA and consistently graduate at a higher rate than the general student population.

Advances in Advancement and Community Involvement:

Advancement units have several updates:

  • A vice chancellor for advancement was hired in 2014. She hired a director of development to complement a small support staff.
  • A fundraising target of $14 million was set by the IU Foundation to be reached by 2020. IU Southeast was the first IU regional campus to reach our goal. The goal was reached a year early, and IU Southeast continues to attract impressive donor support from the community.
  • Highlights of this fundraising period include major gifts from retired faculty and staff, solid banking and other corporate support from previously untapped sources, and on-going current faculty and staff giving campaigns all continue to grow.
  • We continue to raise impressive giving totals from the two-state region through our annual Chancellor’s Medallion, athletic, alumni, and Founders’ Day Banquets, as well as through our discipline-specific fund-raising events.
  • In this campaign, IU Southeast has attracted our largest single donor gift ($1.9 million), and several million-plus gifts from retired faculty and others.
  • A new alumni director and a grants coordinator were hired who in turn have helped add to our fund-raising totals, with academic grants success at an all-time high.
  • One IU Alumni trip was led to central Europe. We are planning the first IU Southeast trip to Ireland (2020). We work with our IU Southeast alumni group on several programs each year.
  • The total dollar amount of grants since FY 2015 is $1,893,486, considerably more than we were tasked to raise.