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October 22-23, 2012, Scottsdale, Arizona


Conference Faculty


Hotel Information


EPI’s Retention 101 workshop provides an exclusive resource-rich environment for groups and individuals from institutions of higher education to work with select experts in their field to design solutions around their institution’s current issues in the areas of college access, success, and preparation for the workforce.

Led by internationally-recognized expert Dr. Watson Scott Swail, developer of the geometric framework for student retention (Swail, 2003), EPI’s Retention 101 provides a living process linking pre- and post-institute participation that will convene members to Scottsdale, Arizona at the Embassy Suites. The environment will allow participants to engage in an intimate environment discovering current resources of knowledge, people, and networks connected to evolving best practices.

Why Attend?

Retention 101 will provide a forum to discuss critical issues in higher education that impact student success, including financial aid, educational quality, and the nexus of college admissions and student success. Participants will hear from some of the foremost thinkers and practitioners in higher education and engage in dialogue to propel their thoughts and strategies about how they can improve persistence and graduation rates at their institution and/or system. If you want to learn more about best practices in student services, recruitment and admissions, financial aid, academic services, data, evaluation, and continuous improvement processes, and institutional leadership, you need to be at EPI's Retention 101.

Who Should Attend?
Retention 101 is designed for decision-makers at all levels of higher education, including public, private, and proprietary sectors. While individuals are encouraged to attend, we have found that institutions that bring a team to the event tend to get more out of the experience. Individuals on the team may include VPs, Deans, Provosts, Chancellors, Presidents, faculty members, and staff. By coming together at EPI’s Retention 101, teams can have quality time to discuss and plan for institutional change geared toward not only higher student graduation rates, but a higher-level of learning and engagement of students, faculty, and staff. Participation in Retention 101 makes it possible that everyone can win at your campus.



Dr. Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute, Washington, DC

Dr. Peter Dietsche, Assistant Professor William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto

Ms. Kimberly Landis, Director, Special Initiatives, Educational Policy Institute, Washington, DC



The workshop begins at 9am on Monday, October 22rd and concludes at 4pm on Tuesday, October 23th. The following schedule is preliminary.


8:00am - 9:00am — Registration & Continental Breakfast (included in registration fee)

9:00am - 10:30am — Introduction to Student Retention
The introductory session will look at the impact of student dropout on campuses, the cost of dropout to the individual, institution, and society, and how addressing this issue is an important part of institutional change and continuous improvement.

10:30am - 10:45am — Refreshment Break

10:45am - 12:00pm — A Framework for Student Success
How do we envision the retention process? What is it that matters most to students and institutions? This session will introduce an evidence-based framework for understanding the dynamics of student retention and persistence. Based on a decade worth of research, Swail’s geometric model of student retention outlines a process for institutions to perceive and conceptualize the planning process.

The framework focuses on student cognitive and social outcomes, as they related to five areas of campus services:

• Financial Aid
• Student Services
• Academic Services
• Teaching and Learning
• Recruitment & Admissions

12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch (included in registration fee)

1:00pm - 2:30pm — The Campus Audit
This session will focus on the importance of understanding your campus and collecting detailed information about practices, strategies, and programs on campus. Institutions must audit their efforts in order to find value in what has been done, while also setting benchmarks for future efforts. In this session, participants will learn:

• What should we look for on campus?
• How do we measure success?
• What data are important to collect?
• What do we do with all this information?
• How do we work toward a meaningful campus-wide plan for retention?

2:30pm - 2:45pm — Refreshment Break

2:45pm - 4:00pm — Effective Practices in Student Success (Part I)
The remainder of the day will focus on discussion revolving the various institutional inputs for student retention, including Recruitment and Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Services, Academic Services, and Curriculum & Instruction. Our conference faculty will present information on proven strategies currently used in institutions around the US and Canada, and invite participants to share their experiences and hindsight.

Using the retention framework as a guide, the information presented on Day Two will begin to layout a menu of strategies that can be considered for your retention plan.

4:00pm - 4:45pm — Building an Institutional Plan

6:00pm - 8:00pm — Special Event: TBA



8:00am - 9:00am — Continental Breakfast & Roundtables (included in registration fee)

9:00am - 10:30am — Discussion of Goals and Objectives
Teams and individuals will present their goals and objectives with discussion for all.

10:30am - 10:45am — Refreshment Break

10:45am - 12:00pm — Monitoring Student and Program Outcomes Progress
The capstone session to our conference will discuss the importance of monitoring student success and institutional progress. The ability of institutions to benchmark and continuously collect and review data is paramount to the success of any large-scale initiative. Issues include:

• determining what data to collect
• how and when to collect information
• using data in a progressive manner
• understanding how data can change your plan
• incorporating a continuous-improvement cycle as a model for institutional change

12:00pm - 1:00pm — Lunch

1:00pm - 2:15pm — Working Groups

2:15pm - 2:30pm — Break

2:30pm - 3:00pm — Sharing of Information

3:00pm - 3:30pm — Campus Change, Institutional Leadership, and other Important Factors
Without the buy in of campus leadership, reform is difficult if not unlikely at any postsecondary institution. This session will discuss the importance of campus leadership and how to gain their interest and total support in developing a campus-based retention initiative. As well, leadership only counts if there are those to be led. The involvement and buy-in of faculty and departments will also be discussed.

3:30pm – 4:00pm — Pulling It All Together
This last session will pull all the information together from the past two and a half days. Participants will be given instructions on how to proceed in the planning and implementation process.

4:00pm - 4:10pm — Final Thoughts & Adjournment



Escape to an enchanting desert oasis in Paradise Valley at the Embassy Suites Phoenix - Scottsdale hotel, where the comfort of our guest room accommodations and exceptional location join to produce and outstanding golf resort experience.

Perfect for business travel and exhilarating vacations, this Arizona hotel sets a new standard among full-service hotels in Scottsdale & Phoenix. Delight in magnificent views of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve or the meticulously kept fairways of adjacent Stonecreek Golf Club. The excitement continues just outside our Scottsdale hotel in Phoenix, where you will discover renowned Scottsdale attractions, decadent dining and spectacular shopping options. After exploring this lively area, retreat to the comfort and casual elegance of our Embassy Suites hotel, one of the best options for Scottsdale, AZ hotel.

Embassy Suites Phoenix - Scottsdale; 4415 E. Paradise Village Pkwy South, Phoenix, Arizona  85032; Tel: 1-602-765-5800    Fax:  1-602-765-5890


For our attendees, rooms are available at the discounted rate of $129/night. This rate is on a first come, first served basis and in order to receive the Group rate, reservations must be made no later than September 15, 2012.





until August 15, 2012


Individuals and groups that register for this event will be given a 15% registration discount for the Retention 2013 International Conference on Student Success. Upon completion of your registration for this event, you will be given a code to get your discount for Retention 2013.

Coffee breaks, lunches, and a evening reception will be provided.