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Duquesne Achieves Near-record Freshman Retention Rate

This fall, Duquesne has achieved the second highest retention rate-88.8 percent-for returning sophomores since historical records have been kept for this critical index of student satisfaction.

The retention rate records the percentage of the freshman class, in this case the students who entered in Fall 2011, who return to Duquesne as sophomores. The highest ever retention rate at Duquesne-89.4 percent, little more than half a percentage point higher than this year's-was recorded for the freshman class that entered in 2004.

The latest retention rate is the result of efforts to identify students who might be likely to drop out or transfer and help them, when possible, to remain at Duquesne. These coordinated efforts are organized through the work of the Undergraduate Retention Committee, a cross-disciplinary group formed by President Charles J. Dougherty and Provost Ralph Pearson in 2010, which is charged with improving the likelihood that undergraduate students remain enrolled at Duquesne through graduation.

Members of the committee were selected from across the University and serve in various professional capacities, thus representing a variety of professional strengths and organizational concerns. According to Paul-James Cukanna, associate provost for enrollment management who serves as chair of the Retention Committee, the highest rates of student attrition occur between the freshman and sophomore years. 

Last year, the work of the committee reached its first benchmark, an 87 percent freshman-to-sophomore retention rate for the 2010 freshman cohort, which is more than three points higher than the national average for private, selective institutions.

"A strong retention rate is important because it can influence our financial profile, credit market ratings from Standard & Poor's and Moody's, public opinion surveys, faculty recruitment and the ways that academically talented, prospective students and their parents perceive us," explained Cukanna. "Our latest retention rate reaffirms that we have correctly focused our resources to meet both the Spiritan mission of service to students as well as a core tenet of the University's strategic plan."

Cukanna said that, due to the Retention Committee's success, Dougherty has challenged them with achieving a 90 percent freshman retention rate within the next several years.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.