Like many states, North Carolina has struggled to boost graduation rates at four-year public institutions. While the data do show slight improvements in recent years, overall rates are still unacceptably low. For individuals who entered the UNC sytem as freshman in 2002 (latest data available) only 35 percent of students graduated four years later; six years later about 59 percent of the 2002 freshman class had graduated (See: UNC Graduation and Persistence Rates). Nationally, the six-year graduation rate is also about 59 percent.
It may be time for UNC officials to look at Kent State. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) reports 800 faculty members at the Ohio campus will receive bonuses between $2,500 and $2,800 for meeting goals regarding freshman retention, external support and fund raising. The bonuses were negotiated as part of the union contract. Gosh, a novel idea: pay for performance. Hopefully we’ll see more of that.
Earlier this year, UNC President Erskine Bowles suggested UNC funding be tied to retention and graduation goals (See: blogpost). That’s a good idea. Tying faculty pay to performance and institutional goals — such as raising retention and graduation rates — is an even better idea.