Following lunch every Wednesday, administrators from across the university’s departments meet to discuss implementing President Theobald’s signature initiative, Fly in 4. Jodi Levine Laufgraben, vice provost for academic affairs and assessment, said its routine to sit down and discuss the groundwork needed to support the initiative aimed at reducing student debt.
The university reports that 394 students have signed up so far, about 19 percent of those who are eligible. Additionally, Theobald has received positive feedback from the public.
Fly in 4 was announced on Feb. 4 as a program that would offer $4,000 scholarships to 500 students in each incoming class beginning this fall. In return, students are required to follow a four-year track to graduation, that if delayed due to scheduling conflicts, the university will cover the cost of the remaining credits.
There is no limit on the number of students who can participate in the four-year graduation guarantee.
“I am very pleased that a growing number of incoming freshmen are already signing up,” Theobald said in an email. “Since it was announced in early February, Fly in 4 has gotten a positive response from students, parents, high school guidance counselors and state legislators.”
Theobald received praise from state legislators in Harrisburg while lobbying for Temple’s state appropriations in a committee hearing on March 11.
“What you are doing with Fly in 4 will help to ensure that people will have access to a quality higher education,” Rep. Cherelle Parker, a Philadelphia Democrat, said. Laufgraben said a website dedicated to Fly in 4 will be available at the end of April.
“It’s a more fully developed informational site for multiple audiences, primarily prospective students and admitted freshmen,” Laufgraben said. “It will be the primary source of information for Fly in 4.”
To spread the word, the university has held informational sessions for student staff in admissions, financial aid, orientation and the various advising departments across the colleges.
Temple has hired 60 new full-time advisers since 2006 and 10 were added the previous academic year, Assistant Director of Stewardship Communications Ashwin Verghese said.
The Degree Audit Reporting System will be updated in a year to include an academic planner to help students see how they should move through their requirements.
Laufgraben said that in creating Fly in 4, administrators looked into similar programs at the University of Minnesota and the University of Buffalo as models. These institutions have four-year graduation guarantees, established in 1996 and 2012 respectively, but do not offer scholarships as part of their guarantee.
Four-year graduation guarantees have been established at a number of other colleges across the country including the University of the Pacific, Midland University, the University of Nebraska, Ashland University and Juniata College. Indiana University – where Theobald was senior vice president prior to arriving at Temple – incentives students by freezing tuition for upperclassmen on track to finish in four years.
Indiana’s four-year graduation rate was 58 percent for the 2007 cohort, the most recent class studied. Temple’s four year graduation rate is 43 percent, according to the most recent university statistics.
Incoming freshman have until the end of the drop/add period of the fall semester to sign up for the Fly in 4 program. Information on the program is accessible via TU Portal. In addition, the university is promoting the event to incoming freshman at Experience Temple Days.
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @marcusmccarthy6.