Student Success and Retention

Students attend class on the Mall at UMaine

The transformative power of education to shape lives and create opportunity across generations starts with the success of a single student. The Harold Alfond Foundation grant provides $20 million for student support initiatives and challenges the University of Maine System to leverage $25 million more to establish a student success culture and programs that improve outcomes through connection and engagement.

For the University of Maine System, we believe every student will have the opportunity to pursue their dream, to shape their identity and sense of purpose through education that prepares them to understand and contribute to the solutions needed for the 21st century. Post secondary education, once one of the paths to a successful work life, is now requisite for most new, value-added jobs and the chance to have an impact within a community and across a career.

The growing opportunity divide is leaving too many behind, contributing to workforce challenges, and personal economic uncertainty

We believe that public higher education must lead the way in bridging this gap, devoting its resources and reach to providing everyone with the credentials, skills, and access to lifelong learning required to advance careers and seize new opportunities.   

At the University of Maine System we obligate ourselves to and center our culture on the success and retention of our students through graduation and into meaningful careers – or as Bates College’s former President Clayton Spencer would say, “purposeful work.” Making the learning and success of our students our primary focus and determining how to assess it will reshape national thinking on how higher education can engage students, starting where they are, with the educational access, flexibility, support, and relevance they need to succeed.

The UMS TRANSFORMS Student Success and Retention initiative is led by University of Maine Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost John Volin and University of Maine at Fort Kent President Deborah Hedeen. This work, carried out by three campus-wide working groups is focused on the following:

  1. Research learning experiences that introduce students to discovery and knowledge creation early in their college careers;
  2. Redesigning curriculum of gateway STEM courses and engaging proven approaches to learning to help students succeed in courses that have traditionally been a barrier to academic progress; and,
  3. Reaching new levels of relevance between the educational experience and career success with a pathways to careers program that expands access to credit-bearing internships with employer partners and experiential learning.

Each working group is tasked with addressing best practices, cultural change, authentic and inclusive learning, advising and mentoring, and assessment.