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Morris Excels in Effectiveness and Efficiency

Posted by Jenna Ray on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013

While many organizations and policymakers rely on graduation rates to gauge success of American colleges and universities, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) is looking to identify an alternative method of rating effectiveness and efficiency of public postsecondary systems. Earlier this summer the twelve-state, nonprofit higher-education alliance released a preliminary report of its findings, which names the University of Minnesota, Morris a statewide leader in both areas.

In June MHEC released a working paper and state-by-state research briefs from the project, presenting the results of studies assessing institutional effectiveness and efficiency in promoting timely degree completion. Accounting for variation in the attributes of two- and four-year institutions as well as spending on instruction and related services, MHEC derived effectiveness and efficiency scores for 29 two-year and 31 four-year schools in Minnesota. Among public four-year schools, Morris was rated the most effective and efficient (based on the six-year graduation rate).

Morris received an effectiveness score of 13.01 (very high) based on its four-year graduation rate, and a score of 6.05 (high) for its six-year rate. The average score for Minnesota’s public four-year schools was -3.56 (very low). In terms of efficiency, Morris earned scores of 1.76 (very high) based on four-year graduation rates, and 1.51 (very high) based on six-year rates—the state average was -0.14 (moderate).

According to Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson, Morris’s success lies in its ability to graduate a diverse student population at a higher rate than expected. One in three Morris students is minority or international in origin, and one-third are first-generation college students. However, an intimate and supportive campus culture allows the school’s nearly 1,900 students to build relationships with faculty, which are linked to retention and classroom success.

“The University of Minnesota, Morris stands out among the state’s public four-year institutions for generating more grads than expected at a good price,” wrote the Star Tribune in an editorial last week. “The school’s success with that diverse student population warrants examination and imitation.”

In the MHEC findings, institutional effectiveness scores reflect the difference between actual and predicted graduation rates. Efficiency scores illustrate the ratio of effectiveness to educational expenditures.

Founded in 1991, MHEC contributes to the vitality of the Midwest by enhancing member states’ ability to maximize higher education opportunity and performance through collaboration and resource sharing. Additional information, including detailed project methodology, is available online.