Lone Star College-University Park aims for 50 percent graduation rate by 2021, eyes new instructional arts facility

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Lone Star College-University Park has announced a goal of reaching a 50 percent graduation rate by spring 2021—a 300 percent increase from last year, the college’s President Shah Ardalan said.

The initiative, known as GradUP!, kicked off Jan. 25 and aims to increase the graduation rate of full-time students, or students taking at least 12 credit hours, who enrolled last fall and are attending college for the first time.

The college, located near Hwy. 249 and Louetta Road, has seen overall enrollment increase since its inception as a fully accredited college in 2012, but school officials are now hoping to up the college’s graduation rate as well, Ardalan said. Graduation is defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as students who graduate with an associate degree or certificate within three years, LSC-UP officials said.

“We are putting in a lot of emphasis on student success,” Ardalan said. “We want to really focus on increasing the graduation rate.”

Last fall, 13,328 students enrolled at the campus, which is a 44 percent increase from 2014, Executive Director Chris Cheatham said in an email. Of the total students enrolled in fall 2018, 28 percent were full-time students, and 9 percent were first-time college students, he said.

Graduation rates are also trending upward, school officials said. The graduation rate of the spring 2017 class, or students who enrolled fall 2014, was 16.2 percent. That number jumped to 21.3 percent for the graduating class of spring 2018, which is in-line with the state average and the LSC system, according to LSC-UP officials.

Ardalan said although he aims to improve graduation rates, the numbers do not tell the whole story in measuring student success. Many students transfer to a four-year university before obtaining an associate degree or certificate, according to LSC-UP officials.

“The majority of our students … don’t intend to get a degree. They come here to take some classes, to learn something and go back to work,” Ardalan said.

The initiative aims to increase the graduation rate of the spring 2021 graduating class to 50 percent.

“In time we will know if efforts are successful,” Ardalan said.

LSC-University Park offers various initiatives to help boost graduation rates, officials said. For instance, exising academic support systems include Hot Spots, which combine technology and math and science tutors; and an Early Alert program, which allows faculty to let personnel know when students are struggling. The college is also encouraging students to enroll in more courses every semester so they can graduate sooner, officials said.

New facilities

LSC-University Park is working on the design of a $23.7 million instructional arts building, scheduled to open by late 2020. The instructional arts building will include an auditorium, classroom space, and an art gallery to exhibit framed art and sculpture. It will serve music, fine arts and theatre, according to LSC-UP.

The building is funded by the LSC Bond Referendum, approved in 2014.

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Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.
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