Monday, September 23, 2013

Dr. Faulkner: Discontented

This past week the Tennessee Board of Regents held their quarterly meeting at Austin Peay State University (APSU).  As is the custom, the host school gives a presentation on Friday morning before the board convenes.  APSU President Tim Hall did an excellent job of telling the story of the exciting things that are happening at the university.  He talked much about the variety of efforts to increase student success.  I was gratified that most of the things he talked about are also initiatives we are implementing at Vol State.

President Hall concluded his remarks by revealing that many discontented people work at APSU.  He used a quote from Thomas Edison.  Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”  His point was that despite the gains at APSU, they are not content with their progress.  They want to increase student success even more.

With that in mind, here are some things with which I am discontent:

·         I am not content with the number of students that are not retained from semester to semester.  We made some great progress this year.  The percentage of students that returned from Spring semester to this Fall increased by 5.4%.  It appears this is mainly due to the calling project in which many of you participated.  This is good, but I’m not content with a 5.4% increase.  I want more.

·         I am not content with the number of students that enroll at the college and end up earning zero credit.  They withdraw or fail in every class.  Could we save them all?  Probably not.  Could we save many?  Absolutely!

·         I am not content with the health science “wanna-bes” that don’t get accepted into a program and don’t finish a degree.  I know there are many limiting factors that control the number of students we can accept, but there are scores of good students that should be re-directed to other programs where they can earn a degree and enter a fulfilling career.

·         I am not content with the number of students that have financial aid problems because they don’t make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) or they exhaust their benefits before reaching a degree or certificate.  Our financial aid office does a great job of working with our students but we have to help students get on track sooner and stay focused on their goal.

These are some of the things that make me discontent.  I hope you feel the same and that we can together harness our discontent to make even more progress in improving student success.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

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