President’s meeting addresses issues of retention, student life


Matthew San Martin

St. Edward’s University has about an 80 percent retention rate among freshmen students, according to a study done by the university.

St. Edward’s University Administration chairs and Student Government leadership held a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17, to discuss actions the university is taking to ensure students are getting the most out of their college experience. University President George E. Martin, along with several other campus administrators spoke on issues the university is facing and ways to combat them, including student retention and overall quality of life across the student body.

“What I’m asking the university to do is to basically redefine student improvement. When we talk about student improvement, most of the time we think about recruiting new students and recruiting freshmen, and I’m saying no,” Martin said. “We can continue to recruit new students and freshmen, but what we need to do as part of the new efforts is to re-recruit the students that are already here.”

20 percent of freshmen do not return to St. Edward’s for their sophomore year, according to a study done by the university. However, the study suggested that even more students are lost between sophomore year and graduation. To combat this, the university plans to give students a success coach in addition to a faculty advisor / mentor, acquire more internship opportunities for students and offer a new two year on-campus living opportunity for incoming freshmen.

“One of the reasons we are building new buildings is there seems to be a greater need for expansion so that we have the actual rooms and spaces available,” Martin said. “Second is what we’re hearing from students is getting housing off-campus is proving to be more and more expensive so what the university is planning to do is provide housing to address that problem.”

In addition to student retention, the university is finding ways to allow the student body to voice their concerns to campus faculty and administration. The Open The Red Doors manifesto was mentioned specifically as the catalyst that allowed administration to make these strides. Open The Red Doors is a coalition composed of five different campus organizations that formed in March 2018 to, “counter and check the lackadaisical and passive behavior emanated by the upper administration [of the university],” as stated in a petition sent out by the coalition.

“What we learned from Open The Red Doors Manifesto last year is how to bridge the communication gap between the student body and the upper administration,” Vice President for Student Affairs Lisa Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick stated that the effort to get students’ voices heard is currently being led by the Student Government Association. According to Kirkpatrick, the student government approached all of the on campus organizations after their change in leadership and informed them to go to SGA for concerns and ideas that they can present to campus administration. The effort, as Kirkpatrick explained, is to, “figure out how students get to SGA, get their concerns heard, get those things turned into legislation and then bring it forward to the institution.”

SGA urges students to come to them with issues they are facing in the hopes of enacting change across campus.