Bright Spots 2020: CSUMB’s Otter Promise

Today, CSUMB stands as a major success story in the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025, which set ambitious goals for each of the system’s campuses to achieve. CSUMB has already reached its 2025 goals for six-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen, its two-year and four-year rates for transfer students, and is making progress toward its freshman four-year graduation target. The improvement in the rates is the result of a comprehensive, university-wide effort, spearheaded by the faculty, staff, and administrators who have served on the Otter Promise team. Early on, the effort to improve graduation rates benefitted from the streamlining of general education courses, undertaken in 2012, and the centralization of advising and career services into a single office, which made those services easier for students to use. While CSUMB had ongoing efforts toward addressing issues surrounding retention and graduation, the CSU-wide initiative, and the targets it established, helped focus the campus on finding solutions. Higher education research also points to the importance of helping students feel they belong to a supportive campus community as a factor in whether they persist or drop out. Dr. Leslie Williams, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said there has been a renewed effort to make sure students know what services are available to them on campus and how to access them. Attaining the fourth 2025 milestone remains one key area of focus for the Otter Promise team and for the campus as a whole.  The four-year freshman graduation rate is 32.4 percent; the goal is 44 percent by 2025. Beyond that, the campus wants to maintain the same broad-based effort sparked by Otter Promise as the university seeks ever-higher goals.