Retention rates and retirement benefits are discussion topics at Staff Assembly

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    TCU’s retention rate is now 90 percent.

    TCU staff gathered in the Brown-Lupton University Auditorium around 3:30 p.m. where Mike Scott, the director of Scholarships and Financial Aid, announced this rate. 

    He defined “retention rate” as the percentage of first-time full-time students who enter TCU their first year and return for a second year.

    Scott said when Chancellor Victor Boschini arrived at TCU in 2003, his four main questions were: “What’s our yield?”, “What’s our discount rate?”, “What’s our giving rate?” and “What’s our retention rate?”

    At that time, TCU’s retention rate was 82 percent.

    “That was dead solid average for a school like TCU,” Scott said. “But of course, [Boschini] wanted to be above average.”

    Scott said the financial aid office researched common retention factors.

    Scott said that a common misconception is that money is the number one reason students leave TCU. He said they learned only a small percentage of students leave TCU because of money.

    The top reason students were leaving TCU in 2003 was failure to connect socially.

    Boschini set a goal to raise the TCU retention rate to 88 percent in five years.

    Scott said within the five years the recession hit, so the goal changed from increasing the retention rate to maintaining the retention rate.

    Since then the retention rate has increased. It has been around 90 percent for the past three years.

    Toward the end of his discussion, Scott said TCU is going to pay off part of graduating seniors’ loans like they did last year.

    “It just makes it different for people that when they look at TCU, they look at the numbers, they see our average debt,” Scott said. “It helps people.”

    Following Scott’s discussion, Sheri Milhollin, chair of the staff assembly, went over the minutes from the past meetings then introduced Aisha Torrey-Sawyer, the co-chair of the University Commission Advisory Committee and director of the Neeley Academic Advising Center.

    Sawyer gave an update on the UCAC.

    She said there was a UCAC meeting yesterday and some of the topics and conversations going on across the university were about the task force called TCU Promise. Faculty, staff and retirees are a part of the task force.

    She said they’ve continued to have conversations on communicating the change that took effect in 2013 for retiree benefits.

    She said the “Group of Six” came out of the task force and is giving insight and recommendations for how UCAC can help assist in the change.

    Many of the attendees did not understand what the “Group of Six” was. Milhollin stood and described the group as a solution to the “findings” of the task force.

    More discussion arose when attendees questioned the results of the task force’s findings.

    Milhollin said the results were in the form of an 84-page document. When first asked, she said the task force would not be able to come to the next meeting because of time constraints but she assured the assembly that she could e-mail them the document.

    “I have been in meetings for probably a year and half,” Milhollin said. “And that’s what we’re talking about… the change in retiree benefits. The task force report has a lot of fact in it but it also has facts that are not in it. The results in there from the retiree survey are almost two years old. The retirees have done another survey and we’re not getting those results.”

    She then said she’d be happy to have someone from the task force come in and present but reassured the audience that the “emotional piece of [the document]” was two years old.

    She said she is waiting to share the findings with the Staff Assembly because she wanted to have the most current information.

    The median age of TCU faculty is 50.

    Milhollin encouraged faculty that had questions about their own retirement to speak with Tracy Thompson, the retirement program manager in Human Resources.

    Among other topics discussed at Tuesday’s Staff Assembly was this year’s TCU Faculty/Staff Annual Campaign.

    Dr. Janine Kraus, the assistant vice chancellor for Annual Giving Programs, said the campaign was extremely successful last year.

    Kraus said 80 percent of TCU’s employees were giving to TCU through the campaign.

    “The campaign is based on participation, because participation is just as valuable to TCU as a particular dollar amount,” Kraus said.

    She announced that faculty could give a gift to any department through April 24 and that those who renewed football season tickets with a scholarship component, will count toward the campaign.

    Janet Martin, assistant secretary and elections chair of the Staff Assembly, said the survey for elections will go out tomorrow and they must be filled out even if the faculty member already holds a position on the assembly.

    She said there were 30 slots that need to be filled.

    Kathryn Schruba, chair of the professional development committee, said Lunch Roulette is scheduled for April 16 and will take place in the multipurpose dining facility.

    Finally, Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair Joael Kelly said they have been working on getting community college access for current employees who aren’t eligible to come to TCU right away. She said a proposal has been put together.

    The meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m.