In higher education policy circles, a lot of emphasis is placed on increasing graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. With good reason. A great deal of inequity exists in post-secondary education, and the students who can afford it least are at the highest risk for dropping out. It's important, however, that our search for better outcomes is not reduced to a numbers game. Learning and thinking should remain at the center of our work, Further, as a public access institution, we have made a social contract to advance democracy and equity. Just as we cannot expect retention and graduation rates to climb if we do not put effort toward that end, we cannot expect that students will pick up on the habits of mind that lead to fulfilling, prosperous lives if we do not cultivate them.
At the heart of our work is thinking across disciplines; integrating real word experiences, past and present; building community; cultivating awareness of historical, political, and social contexts; and communicating orally, aesthetically, and in writing. While our central work is not aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates, we employ a number of strategies that have been shown to increase these outcomes.