Contact: Ralph Derickson
“I think the agreement will strengthen relationships between students and advisers and the administration in the colleges. It’s a tough question to determine who is responsible if a student doesn't graduate on time. This will put the responsibility for timely graduation on all the parties involved – students, advisers and college administrators.”
-- Rachel Watts,
UK Student Government
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 10, 2004) -- For the first time, the University of Kentucky is offering freshmen a “graduation agreement” that guarantees that if the students follow a prescribed “curriculum map,” they will graduate in four years.
The agreement pledges that if the university does not meet its own commitments to enable the student to graduate in four years – such as offering a required course when the student needs it – the university will rectify the situation. The university will choose one of the following three procedures to fulfill its commitment to the student.
- Substitute a different course or an independent study assignment
- Waive the requirement
- Pay tuition and related fees so the student can complete the course later
“The best thing UK can do for parents and students to reduce the escalating costs of higher education is to graduate students in four years,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “This agreement that is being tested in several academic departments at UK is a bold step in that direction.”
“Many students change their majors often in their first two years at the university, making it more difficult for them to graduate in four years,” added UK Provost Michael T. Nietzel. “Participating in the graduation agreement program will necessitate earlier decisions about their field of study.”
Majors and their affiliated colleges participating in the first year of the three-year pilot project are:
Potentially, some 2,000 students in 14 separate programs in the pilot-project departments are eligible to sign up for the first year of the project, said Richard Greissman, assistant provost for program support.
The graduation agreement began as a student initiative with suggestions coming from Tony J. Stoeppel, a student in the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s student representative to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Rachel Watts, a senior in the College of Communications and Information Studies from Shelbyville who is now in her second term as UK Student Government president; and John Weis, a former UK Student Government Senate president who is now working in the Governor’s Office.
“I think the agreement will strengthen relationships between students and advisers and the administration in the colleges,” Watts said. “It’s a tough question to determine who is responsible if a student doesn't graduate on time. This will put the responsibility for timely graduation on all the parties involved – students, advisers and college administrators.”
“This definitely shows the UK administration’s commitment to undergraduate education, which is a major part of our university’s Strategic Plan,” Watts added.
The graduation agreement was modeled after a similar program at the University of Iowa where some 70 percent of the students sign up to participate, Greissman said.
A real key to the success of the program at UK, Greissman predicted, is the ease with which students may register online to participate. By going to www.uky.edu/Provost/gradegree/, students will be guided through a brief form that they can “sign” electronically, Greissman said. The registration deadline for 2004-05 freshmen is May 6, 2005, the last day of the spring 2005 semester.
Students should plan to talk to their academic adviser soon about the Graduation Agreement, Greissman said.