Progression. That is the theme of APSU President Tim Hall’s five-year report covering the changes at the university during his tenure at APSU, since 2007, when he took office.
The report outlines several areas of university growth, from a nearly 20 percent increase in enrollment to the completed and upcoming building projects.
“It used to be that the only people who knew us out of middle Tennessee knew because of our basketball teams. That’s changing,” Hall said. “The thing we are most pleased about is our students’ success. Retention and graduation rates have increased gradually over the last five years.”
In addition to student success, Hall praised APSU faculty for a steep climb in external funding for research since 2007.
This summer, APSU received recognition for being a great college to work for. The list is compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education and Hall explained that APSU was listed in the company of 30 universities like Notre Dame, Baylor and The University of Michigan.
“I think it’s important to students to work at a place where faculty and staff think they’re in a good environment,” Hall said. “I think that makes a difference in the kind of teaching they get and the kind of help they get.”
Regarding the particularly striking increase in enrollment, Hall said he believed it to be in part due to many people moving to Clarksville. But he added that he didn’t see that as the only reason. “[APSU] used to be largely a secret, and now we’ve been covered by The New York Times, Bill Gates mentioned us this past year, so lots of people are hearing about APSU.”
Ultimately, Hall expects that APSU will retain its 12-year foothold as the fastest-growing university in Tennessee as more students see what the Govs have to offer. According to Hall, Tennessee began a new method of funding public universities in the state based on their performance, academic and otherwise. Since the beginning of that program two years ago, APSU has improved its performance and thus its funding more than any other Tennessee university.
Also discussed in the report is Tristan Denley, university provost and vice president of academic affairs, and his internationally-known work on Degree Compass, which works like Netflix or Amazon to recommend classes to students based on their degree.
When asked what is next for APSU, Hall eagerly described a potential change to support freshmen in their first year at school. He explained it as “cohort scheduling”, where students are put in three or so classes together. “So that they’re not a stranger and there’s some people that they know,” Hall said. According to Hall, similar programs have been used at other universities with successful results.
Hall also wants to offer free counseling from an outside company to help the freshmen stay on track and improve the already increasing retention and graduation rates.
APSU began a fundraising campaign two and a half years ago to earn $40 million, and Hall said that the seven year plan may be cut short as they have already surpassed the $31 million mark.