FLORENCE — The University of North Alabama board of trustees renewed President William Cale's contract for another year and will develop a process to make his evaluation more objective.
Trustees also want clear data on student retention, including why a student leaves before graduating.
Cale is under a three-year contract that is on a calendar year as opposed to fiscal year at an annual salary of $250,908. He has been UNA president since January 2005.
Board trustee Steve Pierce said seven of the nine trustees returned surveys outlining Cale's strengths and weaknesses. He said board members are pleased with Cale's performance as UNA president.
"The surveys were positive on his leadership," Pierce said.
Pierce proposed working with a consultant to help the board develop benchmarks for Cale that would make his evaluation more objective.
"What we do now is subjective," he said.
The benchmarks could become a part of Cale's contract, giving him performance-based goals to meet according to his contract and could even tie bonuses to how well the benchmarks are met.
"We feel like this is a step forward," Pierce said.
Cale voiced support for the proposal.
Pierce said he and others on the board will contact a consultant as quickly as possible in the new year to begin researching the process.
Board members learned Monday that UNA's last measured graduation rate, from three years ago, was 12.3 percent among traditional college students. Tradition students, according to federal government guidelines, are those who enter college for the first time as full-time students.
Andrew Luna, director of UNA's institutional research, planning and assessment, said the federal model that collects the data on college graduation rates, doesn't include many of UNA's typical graduates, who are among transfer students from two-year colleges, or who started college in January as opposed to August, or who fall under other circumstances that would classify them as non-traditional freshmen. Those students make up about 68 percent of UNA's graduation rate, he said.
"Clearly this is something we can improve," Luna said, referring to the 12.3 percent.
Tracking students' success at UNA and retaining them until graduation will be part of the role of UNA's University Success Center. The center will be a group of closely-allied offices and programs dedicated to improving the quality of experience of every UNA student, according to the center's vision statement.
The center's services to students will include advising, academic support and retention data collection that can be reported to faculty and student-support offices on campus.
The hope is that university faculty and staff can step in and help students before they make the decision to withdraw from college.
"I don't think you can really address retention unless you know why they're leaving," board member Joel Anderson said.
Sherhonda Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.