Focus on graduation gets FIU MVP award

FIU’s Graduation Success Initiative (GSI) has been recognized with the MVP award at the annual conference of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) that took place this week in Washington D.C.

“This recognition celebrates that in the course of two years we increased our graduation rate by nine percentage points,” said FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok.

FIU’s current six-year graduation rate stands at 50 percent, one of the best for minority-serving institution. Many FIU students have had difficulty graduating in the traditional four years because they work and have family responsibilities that do not allow them to dedicate themselves to study full-time.

“We would like to have 100 percent graduation rate but what this award tells us is that we are on the right track,” Wartzok said.

The Graduation Success Initiative, an original program implemented in 2011 at FIU, is supported by 62 undergraduate academic advisors, under the leadership of Dean of Undergraduate Education Douglas Robertson. GSI helps students find the right major early on, make steady progress toward their academic goal and finish on time, which can mean anywhere between four and six years, depending on the student’s ability to enroll full-time.

FIU is the seventh largest university in the U.S., and also the one with the largest percentage of minority students:  61 percent Hispanics and 13 percent African-Americans.

“Our unique ethnic composition puts us in a position to be leaders in innovation for the rest of the nation,” Wartzok said. “We are proud to graduate more Hispanics than any other university in the country and lead in STEM education success for underrepresented minorities.”

FIU’s GSI along with retention projects at Georgia State University and San Francisco State University, were honored for taking great strides toward increased graduation rates. The MVP award, which stands for Most Visible Progress, comes with $20,000, which FIU will invest in the continued success of the initiative.

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