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UMM named most effective public, four-year institution in Minnesota

MORRIS – For the second year in a row, the University of Minnesota, Morris has been named the most effective public four-year institution in the state of Minnesota by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact.

MHECI works to improve access to postsecondary education programs in 12 midwestern states while working to maintain affordability and maximizing the return on investment for students and taxpayers.

A recent report, “The Effectiveness and Efficiency of Postsecondary Institutions in Minnesota,” looks at graduation rates and expenditures to rate colleges on their effectiveness and efficiency in serving students.

“We are doing a lot of things right and I think a study like this provides that kind of validation – I am proud of us,” said University of Minnesota, Morris Chancellor Jacquie Johnson.

To measure effectiveness, the report compares institution’s actual graduation rate with their expected graduation rate, which includes factors like the institution’s structure and demographics.

Under this measure, UMM graduates more students than might be expected given the kinds of students served by the university, said Johnson.

UMM is a selective university full of “really smart” students, but also serves a high percentage of students who are the first in their family to attend college and a high percentage of students of color – the highest percentage within the University of Minnesota system, Johnson said.

The efficiency rating compares an institution’s actual expenditures with the expenditures that might be expected from factors like the degrees offered, student-faculty ratio and campus location.

As a small, baccalaureate college focused on the arts and sciences, MHECI rated UMM’s expenditures as low, meaning the institution spends less than might be expected.

Johnson said she believes this is because money spent at UMM is more likely to go directly to services for students unlike money at a bigger, research-based institution like the Twin Cities campus or a private institution.

“We are so focused on the undergraduate mission and so focused on that student experience … that our resources may be modest but they are all going toward the educational experience,” said Johnson.

Going forward, Johnson said she would like to see graduation rates continue to increase for all students. Like many other institutions, UMM still has an achievement gap between white students and students of color, said Johnson.

UMM’s current four-year graduation rate is 50.5 percent, and the six-year graduation rate is 62.2 percent. The university’s most recent strategic plan sets graduation rate goals at 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

“I’m proud of the work that we do, and I like the study because it takes into account that context, but I would like to see those graduation rates go up,” said Johnson.