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UT Austin’s successful Gateway Program receives 1999 Retention Excellence Award

The University of Texas at Austin is one of seven colleges and universities being honored this week with a Retention Excellence Award from Noel-Levitz for its successful efforts to retain students.

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AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin is one of seven colleges and universities being honored this week with a Retention Excellence Award from Noel-Levitz for its successful efforts to retain students.

UT Austin’s “Gateway Program” assists freshmen who are admitted but who have additional challenges, such as being a first-generation college student or having low SAT/ACT scores. This two-year program of approximately 100 incoming freshmen begins with a special session for parents and students at summer orientation. Program participants receive personalized attention through small class sizes, tutoring, advising with staff and peers, and a leadership retreat the weekend before classes begin. Each student also takes an educational psychology class the first semester, which focuses on the demands of college life.

For the 1997-98 academic year, the university dismissed 4.4 percent of freshmen overall but none from the Gateway program. Also for fall 1998, Gateway students outperformed their peers by earning a 3.2 average GPA versus a 2.82 average GPA for freshmen overall.

“This program demonstrates with measurable results how colleges and universities are helping students build the skills necessary to graduate and move into rewarding careers,” said Lana Low, vice president of Noel-Levitz.

Noel-Levitz, an USA Group company, is a results-oriented consulting firm specializing in higher education enrollment management, financial aid, and student retention.

UT Austin is being honored for its retention efforts at this year’s National Conference on Student Retentionó being held this week in San Francisco. The conference began Wednesday and ends Saturday. Other institutions receiving awards include Brooklyn College; Centennial College of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C.; Kutztown University of Kutztown, Pa.; Missouri Western State College and the University of New Orleans.

The Retention Excellence Awards Programó was established in 1989 to honor retention achievements of postsecondary institutions throughout the United States and Canada. These awards recognize innovative programs and services that impact student retention by promoting student success and satisfaction. Nominees are judged by a panel of seven higher education administrators and consultants on identifiable and measurable institutional outcomes, originality and creativity, use of resources, and adaptability to other institutions. Since the awards program began, Noel-Levitz has honored 28 community colleges, 29 private, and 54 public colleges and universities with Retention Excellence Awards.

“These colleges and universities recognize that student retention is a campus-wide effort,” Low said. “We want to recognize these cutting-edge programs and provide a forum for these colleges and universities to share their knowledge and success with other higher education institutions throughout North America.”

Several of the award winners will present individual workshops on their award-winning efforts at the 13th annual National Conference on Student Retention. This four-day conference features more than 100 workshops led by top retention experts and practitioners.

For further information, contact Sara Murray Plumer of Noel-Levitz, (317) 951-5493.