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Work In Progress - October 18

  • Monday, Nov 16, 2015

It is hard to believe the semester is approaching the mid-way point…I fear that our mild weather has not given us the normal cues about the impending change of season, though the shortened daylight and changing colors may successfully serve as reminders.

Delivering on our Promise

We have some outstanding news to report in some preliminary measures of student retention and completion! Final information will be available through the Institutional Research website soon, but some brief nuggets:

  • Our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is at 81%, the same level as it was a year ago and tied for the second highest in school history (82% in 2013). The national average for private institutions with similar selectivity and degree offerings is 76%. We have come a long way from when our retention rate was consistently in the upper-60s/lower 70’s—not so long ago!
  • Our five-year graduation rate is at 60%, which marks the first time in school history we have achieved that mark. That is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 50.5% for comparable private institutions.
  • The College’s most recent 3-year cohort default rate (for graduates in 2012) is 2.3%. That is about one-third of the national average for four-year private colleges (6.3%), and about a quarter of the average for all colleges in Wisconsin (9.2%)!

At a time when student success and completion is an important (though certainly incomplete) yardstick used by students, families, legislators and policymakers, this is tremendous news that we will be sharing generously with our external audiences. And it comes about because of the work each of us does daily to provide a challenging, supportive learning environment that helps our students connect learning, beliefs, and actions. Each of us can take great pride in the impact we’re having on students!

Benefits Task Force Update

You’ve now seen a number of updates in a variety of outlets regarding the work of the Benefits Task Force, particularly as it relates to health benefits. As I’ve shared before, the urgency of addressing that part of our benefit package emerges from the fact that our annual plan year begins January 1. That means that each year at this time we are in the process of finalizing arrangements for health benefits. While the timing of our decision-making is similar this year to in previous years, the scope is (as you know) broader, informed by the work that the benefits task force began last spring.

I continue to be grateful to the members of the task force. Those members—consisting of both faculty and staff--have worked diligently to identify and explore options that meet a difficult set of parameters:  providing high-quality comprehensive health care benefits, doing so at a cost that is financially responsible for both employees and the College, and arriving at a solution that we are confident will be stable for the foreseeable future (3-4 years).

I also appreciate those of you who have attended recent Open Forums to learn more and to express your thoughts. Everyone involved in the process recognizes the personal nature of health care, and the importance of making a decision that provides high-quality and affordable health care for all both today and over the next few years. As soon as a decision is made—within the next two weeks--you will hear next steps from Human Resources.

Strategy Steering Committee Reminder

As indicated in EC Today recently, I’m looking for nominations to serve on a Strategy Steering Committee. For more information about my initial thoughts around strategy, please refer to the paper I shared on the College Assembly website recently. I am looking for individuals who have the trust of their colleagues, work effectively with others, and can see the College as a whole (both now and into the future).

There are many more qualified individuals than I could possibly appoint; I will be seeking to put together a group that brings a variety of perspectives and can work together well to advance this important work. Please forward to Cristie Jacobs by Wednesday, October 21 any nominations you might have.

Predolin Foundation

The College benefits every year form the generosity of the Henry Predolin Foundation. You’ve seen that name around campus--the Predolin Humanities Center, Predolin Scholarships, and the Henry Predolin School of Nursing are probably the most visible expressions of Henry’s support. Each year, the College submits a proposal to that Foundation, requesting support for projects meeting the parameters outlined in Henry’s estate—specifically, capital and scholarships in the areas of business, nursing, and science.

I am thrilled to share that this year, we will receive $878,500 from the Predolin Foundation! Approximately $340,000 will support student financial aid. Another portion will fund a classroom in the new residence hall lower level, designed to meet the instructional needs in the recently revised undergraduate business curriculum.  The balance will be utilized to renovate a Sonderegger LL04 lab and to purchase replacement science equipment.

I am grateful for the efforts of folks in the various academic areas involved and to our staff in institutional advancement and financial aid who work to translate Henry’s generosity and vision into impact on our students today and tomorrow and, of course, to our partners at the Predolin Foundation for their long-standing commitment to Edgewood College.

Did You Know?

By now, you have probably seen the Saint John’s Bible in the CAC.  Did you know that Mary Sambrook has been turning a page every day—which means that each day we get the opportunity to see a new illumination! Remember to stop by and take a look.

The Book is also used in other locations, including classrooms and the Chapel.  In fact, on Sunday, November 22 at 7:00pm, St. Joseph Chapel will host “Illuminated Harmony – The Saint John’s Bible,” a special event featuring several campus choral groups and the guitar ensemble with animations prepared by Isabel Rafferty, OP from the Saint John’s Bible illuminations.