Story by ELLEN BECKER, Managing Editor—
The university will be initiating a new student contract that will affect incoming freshmen this fall.
The “Learning to a Greater Degree Contract” will require freshmen to live on campus for two years, instead of the current policy of one year.
Students will also be required to enroll in a minimum of 15 credit hours per semester. Right now, the minimum is 12 credit hours.
The UCM Board of Governors approved the initiative during a teleconference on Feb. 22.
“We’re raising the bar for incoming freshmen,” said President Chuck Ambrose. “By enrolling in 15 hours per semester, students will be able to graduate within four years.”
In return, the university will be offering a 15-to-finish scholarship to reward students’ efforts.
For example, if a student takes 15 credit hours per semester for the first three years, the university will give $1,000 back for the student’s senior year.
“Our goal is to help more students cross the finish line in a timely fashion,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose mentioned that there is a national mandate to focus on student completion rates, and that the requirement to live on campus for two years is a part of that focus. “Out of 1,800 incoming freshmen, 550 typically leave before graduating,” he said. “That’s unacceptable.”
According to Ambrose, about 70 percent of students move off campus. The less students are involved in on campus, the more likely they are to drop out, or move back home.
“It’s our commitment to provide not only an adequate learning environment for students, but an adequate living environment as well,” Ambrose said. “The last thing we want to say is that students shouldn’t have independence; just save it for the third or fourth year.”
He said this new student contract will keep students from falling through the cracks. “It’s like saying to a student, ‘here’s your contract for success,’” Ambrose said.
In a pamphlet handed out at the Board of Governors’ meeting, the contract was reffered to as “a partnership for college completion.”
In the handout, there was a list of requirements for the student’s commitment, as well as UCM’s commitment.
The student commitment list included enrolling in the right 15 credit hours per semester, going to class, communicating with professors regularly, checking in with academic advisors every semester, engaging outside the classroom and living on campus for two years.
In return, UCM will be committed to helping chart students’ college journey with a custom learning plan, enhancing academic advising with eAdvising, providing students with an engagement portfolio, offering a 15-to-finish scholarship to reward student efforts, committing to keeping student costs as low as possible, building a new state-of-the-art residential and retail facility to improve the campus experience, offering programs and support for 24/7 services, and making stronger connections between the value of students’ degrees and their success in their careers and lives.
“We want to provide students with the full college experience,” Ambrose said. “Students need support whenever and however learning takes place, and we’re working to offer that support. We have the opportunity to reshape higher education for the future.”
The initiative will be discussed further during a faculty meeting March 13 from 3:15 to 5 p.m. in Union 240.