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A Leader in Student Retention


August 22, 2007

According to statistics compiled by an independent organization in higher education, Maryville University ranks third among St. Louis universities in the retention and graduation of its students.

During the 2006-07 academic year, Maryville’s retention rate for freshman to sophomore students was 81 percent and its graduation rate was 66 percent. These statistics, compiled by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) indicate the commitment Maryville University faculty and staff place in working with its students so they excel in the classroom.

Maryville trails only Washington University and Saint Louis University in area retention and graduation rates. According to the data, Maryville and Washington University were the only universities in the St. Louis region to report an increase in student retention from the previous year. Washington University moved from 96 to 97 percent, while Maryville jumped four points from 77 percent to 81 percent.

Maryville’s significant increase, according to Jennifer McCluskey, Ph.D., director of retention initiatives, comes from the University’s implementation of programs for undeclared and “at-risk” students. “Our Student Success Team works throughout the year in one-on-one sessions with students, as well as addressing campus-wide issues, said McCluskey.”

Joining Washington University, Saint Louis University and Maryville University in the top seven in the region are Webster University (76%), UMSL (71%), Lindenwood (67%) and Fontbonne University (58%).

Like its retention number, Maryville’s graduation rate has risen steadily over the past three years, increasing 10 percentage points to 66 percent this past year. Again, Washington University (91%), Saint Louis University (75%) and Maryville University (66%) lead the pack. They are followed by Webster University (59%), Fontbonne University (55%), Lindenwood University (44%) and UMSL (42%). Only Fontbonne (four percent) and Maryville (three percent) saw percentage increases from the previous year.

McCluskey commented that it’s impractical to think that any university will ever achieve a 100 percent retention rate. “Situations arise, issues come up and sometimes students leave for personal reasons,” she remarked. “If a student does decide to leave, our goal is to make sure they’re making an informed decision.”

Early intervention has been a key to Maryville’s increased retention and graduation rates, McCluskey noted. The Early Alert program identifies students who need assistance, while the Peer Mentoring program, where older students interact with freshmen and answer questions about specific academic programs, in particular, and the University, in general. McCluskey also credits Maryville’s admissions staff members for recruiting students who are more likely to thrive at the University.

Maryville’s soaring retention and graduation rates are reflective of a University on the move. “Under the leadership of new University President Mark Lombardi, there is a sense of greater enthusiasm among the campus community,” said McCluskey. “This new energy has become invigorating to the campus climate. Maryville is a great place to learn, grow and develop as a student.”

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.


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