The Southeastern Promise prepares for its first trial in fall 2017

Zachary Araki

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As a new program, unanticipated challenges may follow the Southeastern Promise. Once the Promise is in action, administration plans to assess the program to see if it met its goals and if any changes are necessary. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

The Southeastern Promise has received a positive reception as it prepares to be implemented in the fall. Since its announcement in April, no changes have been made to the Southeastern Promise.  

“I’ve had a lot of feedback from parents and from students who are either entering freshmen, are considering Southeastern or are graduating who have said this is gonna make a difference at Southeastern,” said Dean of College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dr. Ann K. Carruth. “This is gonna make a difference in my child’s life to be able to come to Southeastern. We can budget, and we know that this is gonna motivate our child to get finished in a timely manner, become an emerging adult and transition to the real world. I’ve had absolutely no complaints. I’ve had no one say anything negative about it. It’s been overwhelmingly positive in the community and among faculty here at Southeastern.”

A primary feature of the Promise is a guarantee not to raise the tuition for committing freshmen while they work towards their degree. The 2015-2016 fiscal year annual report from the Controller’s Office listed student tuition and fees as making up about 92 percent of operating revenues and almost 62 percent of operating and non-operating revenues. With cuts made or considered for higher education state funding, universities rely more on tuition. 

“While there is an obvious financial risk, we believe that this risk can be offset through enrollment increases realized by improvements in both recruitment and retention,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Sam Domiano. “Our aim is that this unique offering will attract new students who previously may not have considered attending Southeastern as well as increase student retention and progression, which could have a positive impact on revenues in both self-generated revenues and state support.” 

According to the Office of Institutional Research, first year retention rates have been on a general decline since 2011, dropping from 67.2 percent to 62.6 percent in 2015. The Southeastern Promise is one way to try reversing that trend. 

“Southeastern is always looking for ways to help our students succeed,” said President John L. Crain. “Several new endeavors, including a revamp of our freshman success course SE 101, launch of The Mane Event, a co-curricular program developed jointly by the divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, implementation of academic checkpoints for faculty to provide students with their grade status one-quarter and one-half way through the semester, and continued hosting of focus groups of the Provost’s Office to gather first-hand information on what students feel the university can do better to help them be successful, are just a few things to look for this fall.” 

The future of the program and any changes will depend on an evaluation of its success once implemented. Described as the first of its kind, the Promise may yield unanticipated challenges.

“As with any new program, you have to start somewhere,” said Crain. “Since this program requires an upfront commitment by both the university and the student, the obvious initial group to include was our incoming beginning freshmen. As we assess the program and monitor its success, we will be better positioned to consider opportunities to expand the program moving forward.” 

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