The fourth and final candidate for vice provost of undergraduate studies, Cher Hendricks, presented in Slawson Hall on March 5 with hopes of diversifying the student body and increasing retention rates at the University of Kansas.
Much of Hendricks’s presentation was based on analytics, as she aimed to answer the overarching question: What is the University's dream state, and how does the University overcome challenges to reach that state?
“The first thing I need to do is figure out where things are. I need to look at data and see what the priorities are,” Hendricks said.
Susan Klusmeier, currently the interim vice provost of undergraduate studies, was the most recent candidate to share a presentation in her bid to fill the vacant position.
The beginning of her presentation featured data she provided about the University's successes and areas of improvement — here Hendricks particularly emphasized the need to diversify the student body.
Also, Hendricks noted that the University’s retention rate is 82% for freshmen after three semesters, and the graduation rate is 62%. As she began to focus on each average over time, Hendricks said there has been a 6.1% increase in retention among freshman over the past 10 years — the retention rate is up 6.6% among white students, 11.7% among hispanic students, and 11.7% among black students.
“[I] always look at the data that I have access to. And from there, I should figure out what the priorities should be,” Hendricks said. “If I were in this position, I would probably align it to the strategic plan.”
To create her strategic plan, Hendricks said she would enlist a group of faculty to brainstorm what the University’s dream state is. Included in this would be a list of guiding questions to aid the strategic plan, she said.
Hendricks listed different ways the University would be able to work to fulfill this vision; through looking at curricular complexity and degree maps, the dream state would be attainable.
“I really appreciate the way she's bringing in a lot of data and encouraging programs and faculty in departments to look at the big picture of their curriculum,” said Director of Center for Teaching Excellence Andrea Greenhoot.
Following Hendricks’ presentation, the audience moved into a Q&A session. One audience member asked how a four-year degree map would differ for some groups — first generation students or transfer students — compared to the typical college student.
The first vice provost candidate, John Augusto, presented for the position on Monday, Feb. 24. Augusto focused on student retention and diversity in his speech.
Hendricks said the University should focus on making changes that could increase the success of all students and narrow achievement gaps among different types of students.
“Georgia’s model was never about a particular group of students. It was about what we can do across the board for all students that would increase success,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks was associate vice president for academic initiatives and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of West Georgia before she became the vice provost of for academic initiatives at the University of Idaho.
Hendricks received a doctorate in educational research and measurement from the University of South Carolina, a master of education in educational psychology from the University of Houston and a bachelor of arts in theatre arts from Baylor University.
If selected for the position, Hendricks said she will use her prior experiences at the University of West Georgia and University of Idaho in the University's vice provost role.