University of South Florida


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University of South Florida to Receive National Award for Excellence in Student Retention and Graduation Rates

TAMPA, Fla. (July 11, 2017) -- The University of South Florida (USF) will be one of three universities honored later this month with a Retention Excellence Award at a national conference on student recruitment, marketing and retention in Denver, Colo. The award recognizes the university’s student success program that encourages students to succeed and persevere through to graduation. Both the award and the conference are presented by Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a recognized leader in enrollment and fundraising management solutions.

USF was selected for its individualized student success case management program, which identifies and serves at-risk students. The data-informed approach has helped USF raise retention rates to 90 percent for the 2015 cohort and the university is on track to surpass the 70 percent six-year graduation rate later in 2017. These achievements could lead to millions of dollars in additional state funding.

This new award for USF follows the recent recognition by several other national organizations. In 2016, Eduventures ranked USF as the nation’s top performer in “Overall Student Success” and, in March 2017, The Education Trust positioned USF as number one in Florida and number six nationally for eliminating the gap in graduation rates between black and white students.

Paul Dosal, vice president of student affairs & student success at USF

“Our case management approach harnesses predictive analytics and technology to empower a university-wide team of truly caring professionals to offer the right support to the right students at the right time. It is making our large research university seem a whole lot smaller,” said Paul Dosal, vice president of student affairs & student success at USF. “We are honored to have this work recognized by Ruffalo Noel Levitz with the 2017 Retention Excellence Award.”

Two other institutions, Walsh University (North Canton, Ohio) and Southeast Technical Institute (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), will also receive awards for their retention efforts at this year’s conference held July 26-28.

“These recognized programs demonstrate that colleges and universities can truly have an impact on the success of their students,” said Janene Panfil, senior vice president, Ruffalo Noel Levitz. “These programs exhibit some of the best practices currently being applied to student success and will no doubt serve as role models for other institutions."

The Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Awards Program was established in 1989 to honor outstanding achievements in student success by colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. This year’s winners were selected by leading campus-based retention practitioners from 36 applications. For information about the program and the national conference, visit