​​​​​​​​​​​With the California State University laser focused on bolstering completion rates of first-time freshmen, transfer, low income and underserved students, the Chancellors Office announced today that it is tapping the expertise of two seasoned internal campus leaders to help advance the new Graduation Initiative 2025 completion targets.  Sue Rosser, Ph.D., provost at San Francisco State University, and Dave Dowell, Ph.D., recently retired provost from California State University Long Beach, are joining the Chancellor's Office team this month to help guide systemwide graduation efforts.

CSU graduation rates are at a 10-year high with the average time to degree for first-time freshmen at 4.7 years. Through data-driven decision-making and smart programmatic investments, the CSU is closing in on the Graduation Initiative 2025 targets.  As a result, system and campus leaders, under the guidance of Loren Blanchard, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, are working this summer to revise the 'stretch' completion targets to make them more realistic and ambitious.  The new targets will be presented to the Board of Trustees for review, discussion and approval at the September 20-21 meeting.

"While we acknowledge our collective success in raising completion rates, the state of California and the  CSU are at a critical inflection point.  To meet the state's​ projected college degree deficit, we need to produce more graduates by leveraging and scaling best practices and making investments in the programs and services that support retention, persistence and completion," said ​Blanchard. "We are fortunate to have an abundance of home-grown talent within the system – experts like Dr. Rosser and Dowell.  I am delighted they will be joining my team, and I look forward to working with them and our system and campus colleagues to fast forward our completion plans."

Rosser, a scientist and former senior program officer at the National Science Foundation, will concentrate her efforts on expanding under-graduate research opportunities – a key area of investment for the CSU that supports retention and student success.  She will also be among those working to craft new onboarding practices for new provosts and vice presidents of student affairs. 

"We have a number of new academic and student affairs leaders across the system. For us to reach our new 'stretch' targets, we must benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of colleagues.  New onboarding practices will support the success of these new campus leaders and ensure continuity in our shared efforts," Blanchard added.

Dowell, who initiated CSULB's Highly Valued Degree Initiative, led campus efforts to dramatically increase retention and completion rates among underserved students.  He also was an early architect of the famed Long Beach Promise program.  With his expertise in crafting and leading student success initiatives, he will work with system and campus leaders to create student success plans to achieve the new Graduation Initiative 2025 'stretch' targets.  He will also support the development of Board-related items and reporting pertaining to the new completion goals. 

The California Department of Finance has outlined new reporting requirements tied to the CSU's state budget allocation.  Dr. Dowell will help system and campus leaders systemize Graduation Initiative 2025 reporting, so that the university is better poised to keep state leaders and local communities informed about the system's collective progress to date.

"I look forward to this new chapter in CSU history, and the good work that we will do together to support timely degree completion for our students," Blanchard added.