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Follow-up email from Community Gathering


Thank you to everyone who took the time to join us in the Underground or online last week for the Community Gathering. If you were unable to join in person, a recording is available for you to watch online. Click the “On Demand” tab and you will see the event recording listed on September 25, 2018. Also, we have posted the slides from the presentation online for you to view. All the information about the Working Groups can be found on MyBethel under the Human Resources tab. From there you will see a channel for Cabinet Information that includes links to various resources.

During the question-and-answer time, a question was asked about retention and graduation rates for students of color and Caucasian students. More specifically, Professor of Education Danny Swensen asked what Bethel is doing to address the gaps between the rates.

Chief Institutional Data & Research Officer Dan Nelson has pulled together data on retention and graduation rates for students of color (based on self-identification) to better answer this question. There is a noticeable improvement in the retention rate of students of color starting in fall 2014. There are also early signs that the graduation rate for students of color from the 2015 class will improve significantly. It is worth noting that the data is based on six-year graduation rates, which is the standard used in the industry for government reporting.

  • The retention rate (percentage of new first-year students who return for the second year) for students of color who entered in fall 2017 is 81.9%, which is three points below the overall retention rate (84.9%). From 2010 through 2014 that gap averaged over 11 points.
  • The most recent six-year graduation rate (entering class from 2012) for students of color was 57.4%, compared with an overall six-year graduation rate of 75.1% (a gap of nearly 18 points). 
  • 75.8% of all students of color who entered in fall 2015 are still enrolled this fall (or have already graduated), compared to 76.9% overall. This does not guarantee a higher four-year graduation rate, but does imply that a much higher percentage of students of color will finish within six years. 

Intentional efforts in the last few years to improve graduation and retention rates for students of color include opening the Cultural Connections Center and starting Act Six. In addition, as part of the Moving the Needle project, Bethel implemented the early alert system to help the retention rate for all students.

Another question asked last week by Christine Osgood, director of the Wellbeing Center, related to ways faculty and staff could help in this time of challenge and transition. I answered with the reminder that we are all part of the admissions process at Bethel. If you know someone who would make a great addition to the Bethel community, I encourage you to fill out the Refer-a-Royal form so someone in our admissions office can contact him or her.

I appreciate those who attended last week’s Community Gathering and the questions you asked. While we are in a difficult season at Bethel, the dedication of our faculty and staff community to our students, to one another, and to Bethel will help us move through these challenging times.

Serving together,