Provost Reports Mason Retention Rate Continues to Improve

Posted: October 17, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

The retention rate for students at George Mason continues to improve, Provost Peter Stearns said Monday at a forum regarding the state of Mason academics held on the Fairfax Campus.

In data from the 2004-05 academic year, the rate for freshmen who returned to Mason was 85.9 percent. That was the sixth straight year of a retention increase at the university.

“We are clearly doing very well,” said Stearns, who added that the rate was around 74 percent a decade ago.

In addition, Stearns noted the retention rate among most ethnic groups at Mason was higher than that of white Americans. For the 2004-05 academic year, the retention rate for freshmen was 87.6 for African American students, 92.7 percent for Asian American students and 87.4 percent for Hispanic American students. The rate for white Americans was 83.1 percent.

“One of the things we do well is handle diverse ethnic groups,” said Stearns, who noted there is no national ranking among universities for such a retention category.

The retention rate for females at Mason in 2005 was 87.3 percent and 84.2 for males.

Stearns added that the graduation rate was 55.5 percent for the six-year window ending in 2000. The rate was 50.3 percent in 1996.

Stearns also reported the following at Monday’s forum:

  • The university now offers 173 degree programs. Six new master’s degrees have been added since 2004 and seven doctoral degrees have been added in the last two years.
  • International partnerships continue to be a strength of the university. For example, Stearns said there are 46 students enrolled this semester through a partnership with the Chinese Educational Association for International Exchange. The university is also involved in student recruitment in South Korea.
  • Two weeks ago, Stearns visited the Ras al Khaimah (RAK) Campus in the United Arab Emirates. He said there are currently about 70 students enrolled at the campus, and about 30 of them are in the English language program. He said construction plans are on schedule to have the first phase of a building project done by July 2008. Students now meet in a temporary location.
  • There was an additional $42 million in Mason’s most recent budget from the Virginia General Assembly, and 38 percent of that went to faculty and staff salaries.
  • Most recent numbers show that about 85 percent of Law School students are passing the bar, which is about 12 percent above the state average.
  • Currently, 75 percent of Mason’s undergraduates are full-time students, and enrollment is up about 2 percent from last year. Stearns added that the university is continuing to construct more on-campus housing for students.

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