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Sponsored by the EPI Foundation & the Educational Policy Institute


The Educational Policy Institute’s Retention 101 Certification Workshop is designed for higher education leaders and practitioners interested in learning more about student retention and persistence issues, strategies, and solutions. JOIN US in beautiful Tucson, Arizona at the best resort in the South, where it's hot but feels so good.

The 20-hour certification program provides an exclusive resource-rich environment for groups and individuals from institutions of higher education to work with experts in their field to design solutions around their institution’s current issues in the areas of college access, retention, and preparation for the workforce.

EPI’s Retention 101 is an integrated learning process led by internationally-recognized higher education expert Dr. Watson Scott Swail, developer of the geometric framework for student retention (Swail, Perna, and Redd, 2003). The interactive workshop allows participants to engage in an intimate environment discovering current resources of knowledge, people, and networks connected to evolving best practices. Participants will learn the building blocks for preparing their own strategic plan for student success from this series, including data collection and use, strategies for engaging students, curriculum and instruction, student services, and financial aid, among others.

Why Attend?

If you and your institution want to rise to the next level, EPI's Retention 101 provides a forum to make that happen. In Tucson this spring, we'll 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, 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 and practitioners at all levels of higher education, including public, private, and proprietary sectors and traditional and online education. 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.

What is Included in the EPI Certification?

Participants who complete the above in good standing will be awarded the EPI Certificate of Completion for the Retention Workshop.



WATSON SCOTT SWAIL is President & CEO of the Educational Policy Institute, is recognized internationally for his research on retention of under-represented students in higher education and has published extensively in national journals and publications. He is considered an expert in the areas of college access, financial aid, and college student retention and persistence. He is well published in these areas, including 2003’s Retaining Minority Students in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass) and his new book, Finding Superman: Debating the Future of Public Education in America, released in June 2012 by Teachers College Press. He is currently working on his next retention book and also another higher education book, The Higher Education Arms Race. Prior to establishing EPI, Dr. Swail served as the Founding Director of The Pell Institute and Vice President of the Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, DC. He previously served as senior policy analyst with SRI International and associate director for policy analysis with the College Board. While with the Board, Dr. Swail co-directed the Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports released in the U.S. each fall. He earned an Ed.D. in Educational Policy at the George Washington University, an M.S. at Old Dominion University, and a B.Ed. from the University of Manitoba. He currently serves on the Advisory Boards for AVID for Higher Education, the National Action Council on Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Research, and Student Resource Services (St. Louis).

PETER DIETSCHE is an education consultant and recently retired Assistant Professor and William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). An educator and administrator for over 30 years, Dr. Peter Dietsche has established an exceptional reputation by dedicating himself to improving the educational experience for first-year students at two-year institutions. Dr. Dietsche is a passionate advocate of learning-centered environments where students’ needs and demographics are critical components of the programming process, and has proven himself as a popular faculty member in both the college and university environment. His enthusiasm for students and student learning is infectious and one of the reasons that staff members are the backbone of Canada’s colleges and institutes of excellence.

DOLAN EVANOVICH is the Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Planning at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he is responsible for all aspects of enrollment planning and management for the Columbus and four regional campuses. Mr. Evanovich came to Ohio State from the University of Connecticut, where he was vice president for enrollment planning, management, and institutional research for twelve years. Prior appointments included his service as director of undergraduate admissions at Arizona State University and director of admissions at Eastern Michigan University. He has extensive experience in creating and implementing strategic enrollment plans and developing and managing data-driven financial aid leveraging strategies. His research and expertise on student retention and graduation spans over two decades and is nationally recognized.  He has also been recognized for his leadership in the use of creative marketing and emerging technologies to achieve enrollment goals. Mr. Evanovich is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, and the National Council for Enrollment Planning and Policy. He earned his B.A. in urban planning and an M.A. in geography and regional planning, both from California University of Pennsylvania.

KIMBERLY LANDIS is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at The Educational Policy Institute in Washington, DC. Prior to joining EPI, Ms. Landis served as Executive Director of ACCESS, a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to helping low-income and other disadvantaged youth prepare for, access, and succeed in higher education. ACCESS also served as a GEAR UP site for six years. Ms. Landis is an expert in pre-college programs, community partnerships, K-12 initiatives, and grant writing for philanthropic and federal programs.



Presentations and dialogue will be clustered around the following topics during the event:


Pre-Event Workshops

WORKSHOP A. Using Logic Models and Strategic Planning Methods for your Student Success Plan (Swail). This session will illustrate the use of basic strategic planning techniques, including use and development of logic models to direct your institutional practice. Participants will be asked to bring their knowledge and interest to the event and work on a logic model that meets their needs.

WORKSHOP B. Using Data to Direct your Student Retention Planning Efforts (Dietsche). Data is the king of student success planning. Only the prudent use of empirical data can navigate an institution through the complex issues regarding student success. Join Dr. Peter Dietsche for an illuminating session on appropriate use of data, student and institutional surveys, and administrative data to guide your efforts. Bring your data and your questions.



The retreat will start on Monday March 17 at 1pm and concludes on Wednesday March 19 at 12:00 noon. The following schedule is preliminary and does not include all aspects of the tracks.

MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014

9:00am — 12noon — Pre-Event Workshops A and B



1:30pm — Brief Review of Webinar/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.

2:30pm — Break (Refreshments provided)

2:45pm — Creating a Campus Student Profile: Identifying Student Characteristics for Retention and Success (Dietsche). The foundation of improved retention begins with knowing the, who, when, and why of attrition on each college campus. This session will present and discuss a research methodology that can highlight the unique set of factors, both student and institutional, that influence college student retention and success.

4:15pm — Adjournment

6:00pm — Reception. The evening reception will provide an opportunity for participants to get to know one another and share their experiences over heavy hors d’oeuvres.



Breakfast is included in your negotiated EPI Hotel Room Rate. You may dine at your convenience prior to joining us for the R101 workshop.

8:30am — Retention Primer and Case Study: Building A Roadmap for Meeting Institutional Retention Goals (Evanovich). The featured case study model is structured to provide a review of fundamental strategies and tactics that need to be incorporated into most retention plan's assessments, programs and policies. This session will cover a sample model for developing a campus retention philosophy, committee structures and operational plans.

9:45am — Break

10:00am — Best Practices: Understanding Your Campus to Identify What Works (Dietsche). We all know there is no retention 'silver bullet', but what can colleges do to wisely invest scarce dollars and achieve the largest impact? The answer is to not only look for best practices in the research literature but to also examine what is taking place on their own campus. This session will focus on where to look.

11:30am — Lunch

12:15pm — The Campus Audit: Setting and Meeting Retention Goals (Evanovich). This session provides an opportunity for institutional leaders to discuss how data collection and coordination between offices is fundamental in analyzing institution-specific retention issues. The session is designed for institutions starting, or re-evaluating, their student persistence plans. Core retention benchmarks and assessment activities will be covered.

1:30pm — Building An Institutional Plan for Student Success (Swail). In tandem with the dialogue about campus change and leadership, putting the plan together is important for future success. Dr. Swail will provide a model for student success that can be used to help guide institutional planning.

3:00pm — Independent Work Session

Evening On Your Own



Breakfast is included in your negotiated EPI Hotel Room Rate. You may dine at your convenience prior to joining us for the R101 workshop.

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

10:15am — 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.

11:00am — 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.

11:30am — 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.

11:45am — Final Thoughts & Adjournment


Hotel and Reservations

The JW Marriott Starr Pass Tucson Resort and Spa is nestled against the saguaro-covered foothills of Tucson Mountain Park. The Resort blends seamlessly into its tranquil yet animated mountaintop setting, as natural as the surrounding desert itself. Our resort in Tucson merges surpassing luxury and personal service with ample family-friendly recreation, an incredible array of dining options, three nine-hole desert golf courses, entertaining traditions, free Wi-Fi in the lobby and patio, supreme indulgences such as our Hashani Spa, and over 81,000 sq. ft. of event space. With spectacular views, and laced with nature trails throughout for hiking and biking, plus exciting activities for the entire family, you'll make memories that will last a lifetime. And complementing the surrounding landscape, our fabulous array of multi-level swimming pools, waterslides, lazy rivers, and dancing fountains, fun for all ages. Immerse yourself in our AAA Four-Diamond luxury golf resort in Tucson.

The Educational Policy Institute has negotiated a $199 room rate for this fabulous resort. To register, please contact reservations at 1-877-622-3140 OR register at Please mentioned the EPI Retention 101 Room Block.




Coffee breaks, an evening reception, and one lunch will be provide with workshop registration.







Workshops A/B*


*Workshops are simultaneous so individuals must choose one.