Group annotations on this page
gpgabbard on 2010-08-19Can You Hear Me Now?
August 19, 2010
That is the logic Georgia Gwinnett College employed when it decided to offer its more than 300 full- and part-time faculty members cell phones and encouraged them to respond to any calls or texts from students within 24 hours.
Under the program, professors are offered a state-of-the-art smartphone and a Sprint data plan that includes the most sophisticated wireless Internet coverage. It is part of a several-tier effort by Georgia Gwinnett — a public, four-year, noncompetitive-admissions college founded in 2005 — to defy the historically low retention rates typical of colleges that set such a modest bar for admission (Georgia Gwinnett admits any Georgia high school graduate).
And so far, they say, it is working. The retention rate for returning sophomores at Georgia Gwinnett stands at 75 percent. That is about double the average rate for noncompetitive-admissions colleges in Georgia, according to Tom Mundie, dean of the school of science and technology at Georgia Gwinnett, and on par with many public institutions that have competitive admissions. In engagement surveys, Mundie says, students have reported “feeling that faculty care about and are accessible to them.”
These plaudits and retention numbers are not driven solely by invitations to call or text professors and expect a reasonably swift response, Mundie says. Other aspects of the college’s retention effort probably contribute as well, including small class sizes and a mentoring program that arranges for professors to advise students on academic, career, and personal matters. But professors and administrators at the college seem to believe there is a substantial correlation between the cell phone program and the young institution’s impressive retention numbers -- enough that the college, which has grown its student body and faculty by leaps and bounds since its founding five years ago, is preparing to spend $350,000 on faculty cell phones and data