UT-Arlington embraces Cigarroa’s framework with efforts for grad rates, enrollment

Posted on: September 15th, 2011 by Teddy Wilson No Comments

When University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa laid out a broad framework for increasing accountability and improving graduation rates in August, he put much of the responsibility for implementing the plan in the hands of the system’s nine universities.

Professors and officials at the University of Texas at Arlington, which has the system’s second-largest student population, told the Texas Independent they were encouraged by Cigarroa’s plan, but in many ways, UT-Arlington is already addressing the issues the chancellor raised.

Kristin Sullivan, Assistant Vice President for Media Relations at UT-Arlington, said that Cigarroa’s framework was about “expectations and goals,” and that “a lot of what we do here at UTA already speaks to increasing efficacy.”

Sullivan also praised the university’s increased enrollment. With “progressive recruiting and an aggressive campaign to raise awareness about the university,” she said, the university saw an increase in enrollment of about 27 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen. It’s a 25 percent increase since fall 2008, up to a record 33,449 students this fall. Sullivan credited several factors to the increased enrollment, including the economic impacts of the recession and the school’s aggressive recruiting.

Dan Formanowicz, a Professor in the Department of Biology at UT-Arlington and a member of the UT System Faculty Advisory Council, said in an email that Cigarroa’s goals “address the major points of contention in the Higher education debate that is occurring not only in Texas but across the country,” issues he said UT-Arlington was already working on.

Formanowicz pointed to the development of UT-Arlington’s University College, which helps advise incoming students and, he said, will eventually help boost graduation rates.

“The impact on our campus is pretty straight forward,” he said. We simply need to continue our commitment to increasing student success and creating research opportunities for faculty.”

Formanowicz said Cigarroa’s plan “certainly” is a response to the Seven Breakthrough Solutions for higher education unveiled by Gov. Rick Perry in 2008. “The major difference is that the framework has been constructed using expert analysis of actual data and information about higher education in Texas by individuals who have a more complete understanding of and experience in the workings and the goals of higher education.”

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