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What has made the difference? â€œOur teaching and retention philosophy is â€˜one student at a time,â€™â€? says Fourney. â€œYou must recognize students as individuals who have a great deal to offer humanity. And you need to engage them, as soon as they enter, with classes that have interesting formats and are led by teachers who truly want to be in the classroom with first- and secondyear students.â€? In January 2006, Fourney established this approach through a program called Keystone: The Clark School Academy of Distinguished Professors. By carefully selecting faculty members committed to its goals, the program ensures students the best learning experiences early on and improves student retention and graduation rates. Keystone professors receive a 5`SObBSOQVW\U(6]eb]A]ZdSbVS@SbS\bW]\>`]PZS[ renewable three-year appointAchieving academic success at the Clark School is hard work. ment that includes a salary Two decades ago, the Clark School was losing two of three students increase, discretionary funds prior to graduation, according to Associate Dean William Fourney. and additional staff. Today, in a program that has only become more challenging, nearly The first course to benefit 90 percent of students who enter the Clark School remain enrolled from the program was ENES after the first year. After the second year, 75 percent of students 100, Introduction to Engineering 9Sgab]\S>`]TSaa]`9S\9WUS`e]`Ya remain enrolled. Design, involving formal lectures, eWbVabcRS\ba]\V]dS`Q`OTb^`]XSQb presentations by outside speakers, STUDENT RETENTION RATES and a team project to design and build autonomous hovercraft 100% that are showcased in an end-of-semester competition. Today the program assists seven courses. â€œWeâ€™ve gradually increased the scope 90 of the program and revamped courses over the years to make them 80 more challenging and more standardized,â€? says Fourney. â€œOne of the most important results of the program is that faculty members 1 ST YEAR 70 get to know students. When the students pursue scholarships, 2 ND YEAR jobs and research spots, faculty members are ready to support and 60 3 RD YEAR recommend them. A clear indicator the program works is that many students return to Keystone to serve as undergraduate teaching fellows.â€? 50 Additional factors that improve retention include the sense of 40 belonging that arises from participation in the many student teams and organizations and the schoolâ€™s vibrant undergraduate research 2 00 0
is interested in, we can match him or her with a highly enthusiastic ambassador who has similar interests,â€? explains Berhane. â€œIt makes a difference when a peer shows the pathway from courses, programs and internships to a readiness to improve the world.â€? Brendan Lees, a former civil engineer who teaches engineering courses at Sherwood High School in Olney, Md. notes, â€œOur students are limited in their knowledge of what they can do with an engineering degree. The ambassadors opened their eyes to the different disciplines and the research and study-abroad options.â€? His students now work in tandem with Clark School Engineers Without Borders students to devise engineering solutions for the residents of Burkina Faso. â€œThis exposure has given our students a sense of how engineers can improve lives around the world,â€? explains Lees.