TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 4, 2017) – The University of South Florida has been named higher education’s “Institution of the Year” by the Washington D.C.-based publication Education Dive. The honor was announced today as part of the 2017 Dive Awards for Higher Education. USF earned the recognition for using data analytics to eliminate the graduation rate gap between race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, as well as improving student retention rates.
USF's use of predictive analytics has eliminated achievement gaps by race and ethnicity to the point that the university's black students now graduate at a rate 6.2 percent higher than white students and Hispanic students graduate at a rate nearly 3.6 higher, a significant difference from the national trend of white students graduating at higher rates.
“At USF, we believe that every student can succeed if given the opportunity to do so,” said Paul Dosal, vice president of student affairs & student success. “This recognition comes as the result of our decade-long institutional commitment to student success and the programs, initiatives, and technology implemented in support of that commitment.”
In 2014, USF partnered with student success company Civitas Learning to develop unique insight into the student experience through the use of predictive analytics. Equipped with Civitas Learning’s platform, student support personnel were able to intervene and coordinate timely, tailored support – such as advising, tutoring, counseling and involvement opportunities – to help students get back on a successful path to graduation. Early in 2017, USF extended this work with a case management model and integrated technologies to better leverage the data and orchestrate personalized student interventions by a cross-campus team.
“The University of South Florida is one of the finest examples of a university committed to the success of all students,” said Mark David Milliron, cofounder and chief learning officer at Civitas Learning. “Their willingness to move from relying on best practices to an integrated analytics platform that catalyzed some important design conversations on institutional policies and outreach practices has been inspiring to watch. These are some tough-minded, dedicated educators.”
Providing these programs and services to all USF students has resulted in noteworthy gains. USF’s six-year graduation rate recently reached 70 percent – climbing 19 percentage points since the student success initiatives kicked off in 2009 – and the university’s first-year student retention rate now tops 90 percent. Simultaneously, achievement gaps by race and ethnicity have been eliminated to the point that black students at USF graduate at a rate 6.2 percent higher than white students and Hispanic students graduate at a rate nearly 3.6 percent higher, a significant difference from the national trend of white students graduating at higher rates. This achievement also earned USF recognition earlier this year by The Education Trust as the number one university in Florida and number six nationally for eliminating these gaps.
USF has nearly eliminated the achievement gap by socioeconomic status. USF students who receive federal Pell Grants graduate at a rate of 69.7 percent, while non-Pell grant recipients graduate at 71.2 percent.
Story by Renee Hunt, USF Student Affairs Communications and Marketing