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Retention & Accreditation Information

Retention Advisory Council

Matriculation Task Force

Persistence & Completion Academy

Retention, Persistence & Completion Data



Retention Plan, Accomplishments, and Updates

2019-2020 KEI Spring 2020

2019-2020 KEI

Retention Plan Executive Summary (PDF)

2018-2019 Retention Plan

2018-2019 KEI

2017-2018 Retention Accomplishments (PDF)

2017-2018 Retention Update (Word doc.)

2016-2017 Retention Accomplishments (Word doc.)

2016-2020 Retention Plan (Word doc.)

GSU Forum Presentation

Open Forum Presentation 10/12/17  Presentation   //  Recording

Open Forum (FYE) Presentation 11/16/17 Presentation  // Recording

Open Forum Presentation 3/2/18 Presentation //  Recording



April 2019

March 2019

Jan. 2019 minutes

Dec. 2018 minutes

Nov. 2018 minutes

Oct. 2018 minutes

Sept. 2018 minutes

Aug. 2018 minutes

July 2018 minutes

May  2018 minutes

Sept. 7, 2017 – May 3, 2018 minutes

Sept. 29, 2016 – Aug 24, 201


The Retention Advisory Council leads and directs student success initiatives to create a persuasive student-centered culture that encourages persistence, retention, goal attainment and timely graduation. The Retention Committee promotes and encourages the full and complete deployment of the Highlands University 2016-2020 Retention Plan priorities and is empowered to sponsor and encourage major retention initiatives designed to improve student success at Highlands.


The Retention Council began its work in December 2016 and will remain constituted until such time as the Interim Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management determines its work is complete. It is expected to provide an opportunity for all functional areas of the college to collaborate in order to improve experiences for current and future students within the context of national retention best practices. Senior leaders in both student and academic services will be expected to monitor, support and encourage the work of the retention committee in order to remove any barriers to the full deployment of the priority retention improvements.

Retention Principles

The Retention Council recognizes the following retention principles are essential to the retention improvement process:

  1. The ultimate goal of a retention effort is improved holistic student success and educational experiences for students, rather than retention, per se.
  2. Improving the quality of student life and learning is a continuing and important priority for all institutions of higher education.
  3. Engaging in a quality of student life and learning (retention) improvement process should provide an approach to organizing a systematic effort, while at the same time enhancing overall institutional quality, effectiveness and student success.
  4. Increases in retention rates are a function of the current state of efforts to improve the quality of educational programs and services.
  5. Improving retention is a complex task; retention and attrition are multi-variant phenomena and are not subject to “quick-fix” strategies.
  6. Retention tools, systems, staff development activities, computer software and professional consultation can make a significant contribution to an organized retention effort.
  7. Retention strategies already in place can serve as an excellent foundation for developing an ongoing, more systematic approach to improving the quality of student life and learning (persistence).
  8. Retention is a key component of a comprehensive enrollment management program.
  9. Some attrition is inevitable and acceptable.
  10. Dropouts are expensive, and improvements in retention rates can add to the annual operating budget.
  11. Attrition is a problem for which there is a solution, and retention is one aspect of an enrollment management program over which an institution can exert considerable influence and control.
  12. Single, casual factors of student attrition are difficult to ascertain.
  13. Some attrition is predictable and preventable by focusing special efforts on selected target groups of students.
  14. Effective retention strategies focus on improving campus programs, services, attitudes and behaviors and result in quality educational experiences for all students.
  15. Educational programs and services cannot compensate for the absence of competent, caring and conscientious faculty and staff.
  16. Key to improving the quality of student life and learning (persistence) are student-centered policies, procedures, and programs.
  17. Persistence depends upon the extent to which an individual has been integrated into the academic and non-academic components of the campus environment.

Organization & Progress

The Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management will review these appointments annually and will be responsible for providing leadership for this committee. The facilitator will be responsible for developing agendas, facilitation, scheduling meetings and encouraging deployment of actions necessary to implement priority strategies. Additional ground rules including meeting time, frequency of meetings, length of meetings, evaluation methods and other details will be developed by the committee.

In 2016, after the Office for Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) and an Interim Vice President of SEM was hired, the university contracted with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, who assisted the Advisory Council with institutional data analysis and facilitated a retention summit, a one-and-half-day planning retreat held on November 3-4, 2016 that was facilitated by Dave Trites, Ruffalo Noel Levitz senior associate consultant. After completing a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis (see Appendix J of 2016-2020 Retention Plan), NMHU planning summit participants (listed in Appendix B of 2016-2020 Retention Plan) reached consensus on several sub-populations and strategies they believed represent the best retention improvement opportunities to focus on during upcoming Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles. Goals for each of the identified sub-populations were afterward formulated by the Retention Advisory Council. Strategy teams were created for each of the five strategies identified at the summit (see appendices D-H of 2016-2020 Retention Plan). These teams immediately began strategizing to make improvements in the specified areas. Some of these were above and beyond the outlined Retention Plan strategies, and the accomplishments and updates for these additional strategies are recorded in the 2016-2017 Retention Accomplishments document. These teams keep targeted intervention plans for each strategy (see below) that are incorporated into the yearly Retention Accomplishments document, and meet regularly to ensure timely progress. Other strategies are addressed and progress monitored by particular offices, including any advisory council members associated with specific programs or offices. On a yearly basis, team progress is assessed to determine if the strategy teams are still needed and new strategy teams are formed if necessary.

Retention Strategy Team Intervention Plan Progress Reports AY 2016-2017

Fully Prepared for the First Day of Class (Excel doc.) — Created Enrollment Success Contrast, now being implemented by the Office of Academic Support (focused on students with <2.935 HS GPA or admitted <34.5 days from the start of classes).

Assure Opportunities to Apply Classroom Learning Through Internships, Practicums, & Campus Employment (Excel doc.) — Created student employment pay scale matrix and common definitions of campus employment types, now being utilized in Human Resources. Proposed campus employment organization chart and the job description for a Student Employment Coordinator position, which has been requested in the Human Resources and Career Services budgets. Collected data on the nature of internships across campus, and produced a matrix of on-campus student employment and majors. Human Resources developed a policy requiring campus departments to develop job descriptions for al student jobs and to post openings online. A taskforce of stakeholders across campus was convened by Human Resources to streamline the student hiring process. This initiative is now being implemented by a collaboration between the Dean of Students, Career Services, and Human Resources and is reflected in the President’s priority for establishing 21st Century career services.

Academic Roadmaps (Excel doc.) — Collected course scheduling and enrollment data from the last five years to give each academic department for use in revising roadmaps in spring 2018. The team is also collaborating with University of New Mexico’s Institute of Design Innovation project for course scheduling. As Academic Affairs and the Registrar focus on academic roadmaps, this team is focusing more closely on the needs of University Studies students for the 2017-2018 retention intervention cycle.

University-Wide Service Culture (Excel doc.) — In collaboration with the newly created Power of Service team, surveyed Highlands’ staff and faculty to determine topics that should be covered in the newly-implemented training series that began September 28, 2017. Implemented staff training for the new Banner query program called Snapshot, which allows staff members a quick look at student information to better serve students without referring the student to other departments unnecessarily. A high-traffic department meeting was also held prior to fall 2017 at which departments shared their most-important information with other departments in order to allow staff to be able to provide intra-departmental information to students. Facilitated, in conjunction with Campus Life, ITS, University Relations, and Athletics, a synchronized calendar system that allows students to view all campus events via mobile devices on the Ellucian GO cellular phone application. The Power of Service team was created and has taken over this initiative.

Academic Advising (Excel doc.) — Collected data to identify advisor assignments, which was communicated to the academic deans so they can reassign advisors in the Banner system. Transfer students were assigned an adviser and Transfer Student Orientation was created and began summer 2017. The Office of Academic Support is providing advisement and technology training for students at orientation. The Officer of Academic Support is providing faculty sessions on how to use Degree Audit for advising purposes. A Student Success Planner was created and distributed to students that outlines important areas to address or accomplish each year as a student progresses toward graduation. Also, with the assistance of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, freshmen completed the College Student Inventory (CSI) and met with their advisers about their individualized reports, which contributed to efforts for improved advising. The HLC Persistence and Completion Academy team was created and has taken over this initiative.

Retention Strategy Development Teams AY 2017-2018

These teams are focused on the identified subgroups that are shown to have lower retention rates at NMHU and which were selected for intervention by the campus community at the 2016 Retention Summit.

Academic Roadmaps (team continued from previous year), focused on University Studies students — Led by Juan Gallegos

Support of Native American Students — Led by Julia Geffroy

Support of African American Students — Led by Yvette Wilkes

Support of students who come from farther than 93 miles away — Led by Kim Blea

Support of students with less that $4,254.50 in non-repayable financial aid — Led by Brenda Wagoner

Support of non-traditional and transfer students — Led by Buddy Rivera

Support of returning students — Led by Casey Applegate-Aguilar


The Retention Council’s goals, priority strategies and action plans will be stated in the 2016-2020 Retention Plan that the Retention Advisory Council is expected to update on a continuous basis.

To document the progress towards the Retention Plan, the Retention Advisory Council distributes a yearly list of accomplishments to the faculty, staff, students, administration, and Board of Regents. Retention Accomplishments can be found below:

2016-2017 Retention Accomplishments

To refine their strategies for the next academic year, the Retention Council creates a yearly updatewhich provides more context, clarification and alignment of past goals, new goals, and plans for the upcoming year. The Retention Updates can be found below:

2017-2018 Retention Update

Current Membership

Vice President, Strategic Enrollment Management

Lee Allard, Director, Institutional Research

Reyna Alvizo, Community College Outreach Coordinator, STEMfast

Kimberly Blea, Dean of Students, Student Affairs

Leon Bustos, Interim Director, Highlands Undergraduate Enrichment

Susan Chavez, Director, Financial Aid

Craig Conley, Associate Professor, Forestry

Inca Crespin, Assistant Registrar, Registrar Office

Jim Deisler, Associate Athletic Director, Athletics

Margaret Gonzales, Director, Campus Life

Rebecca Moore, Professor, Social Work

Benito Pacheco, Director, Student Success Center

Jesus Rivas, Associate Professor, Biology

Buddy Rivera, Director, Farmington Center

Maria Sena, Executive Administrative Assistant, Strategic Enrollment Management

Julie Tsatsaros, Associate Professor, Forestry

Ian Williamson, Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs




May Minutes 

April Minutes

March 2018 Minutes

February 2018 Minutes

January 2018 Minutes

November 2017 Minutes

Sept 27, 2017 Minutes

Sept 20, 2017 Minutes

Sept 13, 2017 Minutes

Aug 30, 2017 Minutes

January – August 2017

Fall 2016


The Matriculation Task Force is responsible for reviewing Highlands processes that affect prospective students from inquiry through the enrollment phases and develops more efficient and effective interdepartmental communication process to support students from inquiry to matriculation.


The Matriculation Task Force began its work in October 2016 and will remain constituted until such time as the Interim Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management determines its work is complete. It is expected to provide an opportunity for all functional areas of the college to collaborate in order to improve recruitment and enrollment experiences for prospective and current students. Task Force members in both student and academic services will be expected to collaborate closely to identify and reduce barriers to student enrollment in addition to monitoring, supporting, and encouraging communication between departments/offices/divisions to increase enrollment, retention and graduation of Highlands students.


The Interim Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management will be responsible for providing leadership for this committee including facilitation, scheduling meetings and encouraging deployment of actions as determined by the members. Agendas will be developed based on recruitment and enrollment issues identified by the task force members and when actions are identified the affected stakeholders will be invited to the meetings for their input and approval.  For those matters (actions/strategies) the task force does not have authority, recommendations will be provided to the administration for their review and approval.




March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020


Advising to Retention and Student Success forum April 17, 2018 Presentation // Recording

Academy Overview
Summary of Academy Participation (PDF)
The purpose of the academy is to “provide participating institutions a structured, mentor-facilitated, four-year program aimed at evaluating and improving student persistence and completion rates. The academy is structured in cohorts, where a group of institutions progress through the four years together.  Each institution is assigned a Mentor and a Scholar that provide assistance and feedback to their assigned institution based on project information each participating institution provides on the Collaboration Network site.  The Collaboration Network also allows institutions in the Academy to build connections and maintain dialog with other institutions in the Academy and share strategies and ideas to improve their persistence and completion initiatives.

On November 18, 2016 NMHU applied and was accepted to participate in the Persistence and Completion Academy.

On March 31, 2017 Brandon Kempner and Edward Martinez attended the Persistence and Completion Academy Introductory meeting in Chicago.

On May 15, 2017 the Persistence and Completion Academy Mentor, Dr. Susan Wood, visited NMHU and met with administration, faculty and staff.

On June 19 and 20 members of the NMHU Retention Team participated in the Academy Round Table in Oak Brook IL.

At the Welcome Back Breakfast during Professional Development Week, August 2017, faculty, staff, and administration completed a survey designed to gauge the status of how advising is defined at NMHU.

The team is currently collecting and organizing a variety of data to be presented at an open campus forum for discussion in spring 2018 (see year 1 of Summary of Academy Participation (PDF)).

Persistence and Completion Academy team members include:

Theresa M. Law, Interim VP of Strategic Enrollment Management

Gloria Gadsden, Criminal Justice Professor

Peter Buchanan, English & Philosophy Professor

Kimberly Blea, Dean of Students, Student Affairs

Benito Pacheco, Director, Student Success Center

Lauren Fath, English & Philosophy Professor

Lee Allard, Director, Institutional Research

Leon Bustos, Interim Director, Highlands Undergraduate Enrichment

Ian Williamson, Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs

Caroline Montoya, Student Success Coach, Student Success Center

Maria Sena, Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of VPSEM



February 2020

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

January 15 2019

December 18 2018

December 4 2018

October 9 2018

September 25 2018


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