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April 4-6, 2016, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri



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The Educational Policy Institute’s Retention 101 Student Success Workshop is designed for higher education leaders and practitioners interested in learning more about student retention and persistence issues, strategies, and solutions. 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.

Our Spring 2016 event is being held at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. The workshop will be an integrated learning process led by internationally-recognized higher education expert 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 St. Louis, 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.

Attendees will work on pieces of their current strategic plan for student success or work towards the development of one at this workshop. A special session on the development of a project logic model will be provided for attendees, in either groups or individually, will make presentations at the workshop.

If this isn't enough, we'll teach you what a Billiken is.

What Attendees Have Said About EPI's Retention 101

People from over 800 institutions around the world have attended EPI Retention events. Here are a few comments from past attendees.

  • Thank you very much for the Retention 101 conference this Monday and Tuesday. Your presentation offered much food for thought – and action!  I appreciate the hands-on approach.  Without question, this is the best retention conference I’ve been to. (Coordinator of Student Success, Arkansas Tech University – Ozark Campus)
  • The retreat exceeded my expectations and provided me with excellent information that is immediately applicable. (Director of Institutional Research, University of Southern Indiana)
  • The program does a lot for student services and support programs. After attending this retreat, we realize there’s more we can do to enhance our program. All of the information provided at the retreat was invaluable. (Director, Indiana University)
  • The retreat was of good value to me and the content is priceless with the possibility to have impact on thousands of students. (President, University of Maryland Eastern Shore)
  • I was surprised to discover how many strategies we already use, but at the same time how much more we can improve. We will now tighten up and evaluate our strategies more frequently. The retreat was a lot to handle in short amount of time, but I am re-focused. (Associate Director, Indiana University)
  • It more than met my expectations. There was lots of great information and support. The retreat was well-organized and provided many ideas. The documents and references were very useful. (Dean of Enrollment Management, University of Northern British Columbia)
  • I was very impressed with the thoughtful and helpful responses to individual questions in this setting. I got a great deal of information from listening to responses to others’ questions. (CPT Instructor/Computer Programmer, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College)
  • This program causes you to think about what you are doing related to retention and immediately gives you new ideas of that you might try. It forces you to think about a framework for retention. (Assistant Dean, The Ohio State University)
  • Great combination of theory and on target presentations. (Assistant Director of Student Success (National American

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 provides a foundation for future success at your institution.

We encourage institutional teams that may include senior administrators (President, VPs, Board members, and Deans), program/project directors, institutional research, academic services, student services, and financial aid. Certainly, there are others that may make more sense for your particular institution. We have had teams of two and teams of 18 attend our Retention 101 events. EPI also conducts private, custom-designed events for institutions. 

What is Included in the EPI Certification?

  • A One-Hour Pre-Workshop Consultation Session for institutional groups of four or more registered people to talk about their particular retention issues. EPI will provide a critical analysis of an institution’s retention strategic plan. The EPI professionals will review plans developed by institutions and provide useful feedback. (1 hour)

  • A Pre-Workshop Session on Logic Models and Organizational Development to prepare for the workshop. Participants will be expected to bring their logic model to the event for sharing and discussion. (1 hour)

  • The Three-Day Retention 101 Workshop at Saint Louis University, April 4-6, 2016. This workshop will provide significant information and opportunities for knowledge exchange between experts and participants. During the workshop, participants will develop or advance their institution plans for student success. (17 hours)

  • A Post-Workshop Webinar will be conducted approximately one month after St. Louis to share lessons learned and to see how groups are progressing. (2 hours)

  • Additional Consulting (fee based) is available for individuals and groups during and after the workshop.

Participants who complete the above in good standing will be awarded the EPI Certificate of Completion for the Retention Workshop. Attendees MUST attend all aspects of the certification workshop in order to receive the EPI Certificate of Completion.




WATSON SCOTT SWAIL, 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 latest book, Finding Superman: Debating the Future of Public Education in America, published by Teachers College Press. He is currently working on his next retention book and also another higher education book, The ROI of Higher Education due in 2016. He also writes a regular blog, The Swail Letter on Education, for the Educational Policy Institute.

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.

Dr. Swail is a recovering middle school teacher, teacher educator, and curriculum developer. 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.

JAY GOFF is Vice President for Enrollment and Retention Management at Saint Louis University.

As SLU's chief enrollment officer since August 2011, Vice President Goff oversees Undergraduate and Graduate Admission, Summer Studies, Student Financial Services, Student Educational Services, TRiO programs, International Services, Enrollment Outreach and Territory Development, Pre-College and Access Programs, and the Office of the University Registrar.

With more than 20 years of experience in university enrollment, strategic planning and communication programs, his mission-centric approach has achieved record enrollment, retention, diversity and graduation rates. Goff has focused on building a team-oriented and data-driven division that stresses service-focused student success plans.

Mr. Goff is an active member in the global enrollment management community.  As an active member of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) in Washington D.C., he has served as the coordinator of AACRAO's Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) conference for four-year colleges and universities since 2008. The Missouri AACRAO chapter honored his leadership and contributions to the field with a professional service award in 2008.

Mr. Goff has served as the Missouri representative to the ACT testing services board of directors since 2004 and was a member of ACT's national education advisory board. He is also on the advisory boards of the National Student Clearinghouse and the Educational Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Mr. Goff is frequently asked to share his expertise at national and international forums focused on strategic planning and student success. In 2011, he delivered the keynote address on using data to improve enrollments at UK universities for the University and Colleges Admissions Service Conference in London, England.

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.




The retreat will start on Monday, April 4 at 3pm and concludes on Wednesday, April 6 at 12:00 noon. The following schedule is preliminary and is subject to change.



3:30pm — Introduction to Student Success (Swail). This introductory session will provide an overview of issues related to the challenge of student attrition, persistence, and success. Swail will provide a variety of data points on retention and graduation rates, as well as other indicators related to student success. He will also talk about the important of improving student retention and success in postsecondary education, why it matters to all stakeholders, and why everyone has to be involved.

5:00pm — The Campus Audit: Setting and Meeting Retention Goals (Goff). 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.

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.



8:00am — Retention Primer and Case Study: Building A Roadmap for Meeting Institutional Retention Goals (Goff). 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.

10:00am — Framework for Student Retention (Swail). In the 1990s, Swail created a geometric framework for student success as part of his studies at The George Washington University. His work continued to grow, and now the framework is used by institutions and individuals around the world. This session will provide a précis in understanding student departure and success.

12:00pm — Lunch

1:00pm — Best Practices: Understanding Your Campus to Identify What Works (Swail/Goff). 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.

2:30pm — Building an Institutional Plan for Student Success (Goff). In tandem with the dialogue about campus change and leadership, putting the plan together is important for future success. This session 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



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

11:00am — Campus Change, Institutional Leadership, and other Important Factors (Swail).
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.

11:30am — Monitoring Student and Program Outcomes Progress (Swail).
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.

11:50am — Final Thoughts & Adjournment



The Hotel Ignacio is a boutique hotel across from Saint Louis University. Located in the vibrant midtown area of Saint Louis, The Hotel Ignacio provides all the comforts and convenience of home in an intimate setting, combined with extraordinary personalized service delivered by a friendly, professional staff.

According to the hotel's website:

Hotel Ignacio offers 49 well-appointed guest rooms and two suites. Designed by the award-winning Lawrence Group, the smoke-free hotel features distinctive, unique room themes — Fine Art, Performing Arts, Architecture, and Music — that showcase its location in the arts center of Saint Louis.

Relax in our lobby living room with its cozy fireplace, or linger in the Lobby Gallery to view a priceless art collection. Tour the local scene on our house bicycles or three-wheel taxi. You can also check in at the business center and enjoy a workout in the exercise room.

Each guest room is equipped with an ergonomically designed desk chair to spare you from backaches and fatigue. You’ll sleep on a Tempur-Pedic mattress — the most highly recommended in America — and enjoy the highest quality comfort with premium bamboo sheets and towels.

In addition to providing extraordinary comfort, our bamboo linens are also good for the environment, one of many eco-friendly amenities at Hotel Ignacio. There are many green-certified products used throughout the hotel, along with recycling stations, ultra-high-temperature steam cleaning, hepa filters on all vacuums, and minimal use of paper.

Stay up-to-date while in your room with internet access and an Avaya media hub, a fully interactive media solution. You’ll have up-to-the-minute access to stock quotes, weather and travel conditions, and local attractions and events with just the push of a button. Hotel Ignacio is one of the leaders in this revolutionary way to stay connected — we’re one of only six hotels across the nation with Avaya hubs available to every guest!


For our attendees, rooms are available at the discounted rate of $155/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 February 15, 2016. To reserve a room, please call reservations at 314-977-4419 and ask for the EPI Retention 101 room rate.




until February 15, 2016


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