GV celebrates record grads, No. 4 graduation rate

GVL Archive 
President Haas offers a diploma to a graduate during commencement

GVL Archives

GVL Archive President Haas offers a diploma to a graduate during commencement

Samantha Butcher

The record number of graduates that were celebrated during Friday’s commencement ceremony was part of a growing trend for Grand Valley State University, which awarded the largest share of new undergraduate degrees at Michigan public universities in the last decade and now has the fourth-highest graduation rate in the state.

According to GVSU’s 2012 Dashboard Report, 64,429 degrees were awarded to Michigan students in the 2010-11 academic year, a 17.9 percent increase (9,791 degrees) from 2000-01. Of those increased graduates, 2,188, or 22.3 percent, were GVSU students, the largest share of Michigan’s 15 public universities.

“We’re delighted that things have continued to get better in terms of our overall graduation rates, but we’re not where we want to be,” said Bart Merkle, GVSU dean of students.

With a 61 percent graduation rate, GVSU also ranked No. 4 last year in graduation rates, behind the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (90 percent), Michigan State University (77 percent) and Michigan Tech (66 percent). Graduation rates measure the number of first time in any college (FTIAC) students who graduate from an institution within six years.

Merkle said the university has focused on increasing support systems and curriculum availability to help more students graduate on time, coordinating with advising, academic support and housing staffs to provide resources.

“We’re trying to actively engage students and encourage them to be active both inside the classroom and outside of the classroom, and all of those things are things we know … are the kinds of things that can help students be successful,” Merkle said.

In a previous Lanthorn interview, Institutional Analysis Director Phillip Batty said students who transfer from GVSU to other institutions are included in the percentage of non-graduates, while students who transfer to GVSU from other colleges or universities and graduate within six years do not count toward the graduation rate.

GVSU also recorded the second-highest share of enrollment increases with 4,900 students (22.7 percent), behind the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, although Merkle said the university has shifted its focus from enrollment expansion to maintenance.

More than 5,300 students earned GVSU degrees during the 2011-12 school year, a record-breaking number for the university.

To view the GVSU 2012 Dashboard Report in full, visit www.gvsu.edu/accountability.

[email protected]