NEWBERRY, S.C. (courtesy newberry.edu) — In one of the most anticipated statements of the year, Newberry College has announced a record 7 percent improvement in freshman-sophomore persistence.
The College also saw notable retention increases among Pell Grant recipients, African-American males and non-athletes. The announcement comes as Newberry serves the largest student body of its 163-year history.
“This is a testament to the College community coming together to help our students realize their full potential,” said President Maurice Scherrens. “For any college to rise a couple percentage points is a tremendous feat, but to have a jump of 7 percent is off-the-charts incredible. Simply put, it means that our faculty and staff are creating an environment and an experience where our students feel they can achieve self-fulfillment.”
“This high level of retention improvement is a holistic manifestation of all the great things happening at Newberry College, and a testimony to the countless individuals who make them happen,” said Robert Best ’71, chair of the Board of Trustees.
The College initiative to improve student retention has been led by Dr. Sandy Scherrens, associate dean for student success. She has partnered with Credo, a small college consulting firm in Greensboro, North Carolina, and many of the retention strategies have been funded by a generous gift from the Kadilhen Foundation.
“Through this partnership and the generous gift, we have been able to make a concerted and coordinated effort across the campus to better address the issues that have been obstacles to student success,” said Sandy Scherrens. “Our focus is on ensuring that every student feels valued, and that they know we are here to help them achieve their goals.”
In addition to the surge in overall retention, persistence among Pell Grant recipients rose 4.3 percent, African-American males improved 9.5 percent, and non-athletes retained 10.7 percent better.
Last month, Newberry was honored by U.S. News & World Report with the No. 1 spot for Social Mobility among southern colleges. The list measured graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants, available to those with household incomes below $50,000. The College was also recognized for having one of the most ethnically diverse student populations in the South.
“Over the past seven years, I have seen Newberry grow enrollment, balance budgets, increase retention and connect graduates with their dream jobs, all counter to national trends in the liberal arts sector,” said Dr. John V. Griffith, consultant and president emeritus of Presbyterian College. “This is a model for others to emulate.”