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Summer workshop addresses importance of student retention

by Nancy L. Hedlund, Ph.D.

On August 12, HPU’s Educational Effectiveness Planning Committee hosted its second campus-wide summer workshop on the Hawai‘i Loa campus. The topic of the day was student retention. Nearly 150 faculty, students, and staff participated in activities designed to inform the University’s strategic planning process. The workshop was part of HPU’s formal planning process to set long-term University goals and define the actions need to reach those goals.

Morning and afternoon sessions opened with panel presentations by students, staff, and faculty. The morning session addressed the challenges associated with student attrition by presenting overall perspectives that could frame discussions conducted in break-out sessions. Afternoon panelists were students who spoke eloquently about the concerns of students and a range of things the University could do to increase student retention.


Morning and afternoon break-out session assured a high level of participation including the opportunity to submit a “response sheet” with each participant’s ideas. The morning and afternoon sessions ended with reports from the group sessions that highlight the rich array of ideas discussed. Examples of “good ideas” for solving system problems, included creating a help desk or a “hotline,” increasing flexibility in general education, creating learning communities to foster student engagement, and “one-stop” access to student support services.


A report to the University community is being prepared. It will share a summary of participants’ ideas about problems and solutions to retention issues. The information will be used by staff and faculty units to address specific issues. In addition, the Educational Effectiveness Planning Committee will propose specific actions to President Wright that are designed to increase student engagement and retention.
Student retention is one of a number of strategic priorities defined by the committee. One example of a strategic priority is to promote discussions about “Global Citizenship” and foster student commitment to developing personal definitions of global citizenship.This has led to the Student Symposium on Global Citizenship being planned for November.
Another strategic priority is to develop HPU “gathering places.” So far it has led to the new downtown campus Sea Warrior Center on Fort Street Mall.
Dr. Nancy Hedlund is associate vice president of Planning and Assessment, and professor of psychology at HPU.


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