UVU receives $2.2 million grant to help raise low graduation rates

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To support Utah Valley University’s mission to raise below-average graduation rates, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $2.2 million Title III grant. UVU’s graduation rate for the last two years – for freshmen that earn a degree within six years, excluding those that leave for military service, religious missions or other approved exceptions – was 24%.

The grant, “Strengthening Engagement and Completion Utah Valley University,” will be awarded over six years and will be used for programs that encourage students to graduate. The Office of Engaged Learning will accept project proposals from across campus. All proposals must show how the project will be engaging and increase student marketability, completion likelihood or ability to get into graduate school.

“Clearly, we had a need for improving the completion of student graduation rates at this university,” said Dr. Richard Tafalla, associate vice president of scholarship and faculty development at UVU.

Nationally, students that began school in 2006 and graduated within six years was 59%. Utah’s rate for students that began school in 2004 and graduated within six years was 46.9%.

Research will be done to see where the biggest gaps in completion rates for UVU are. Tafalla says the concerning gaps are gender gaps in STEM and lower retention rates with underrepresented minorities. The OEL will do further research to find other gaps.

This is the second Title III grant that the Department of Education has granted to UVU. The previous grant, received in 2005, applied to programs for first-year retention.

“This is a great honor for the university. It does really show the commitment this university has to students. It’s a good recognition in how the university is progressing,” said Tafalla.