UO President Schill: 'We need to focus on timely success and graduation'

Michael Schill discusses tuition and on-time graduation with City Club.

EUGENE, Ore. - University of Oregon President Michael Schill argues student retention and graduating in four years should be the school's current focus, not tuition hikes.

The president delivered his speech on the same week that students and the campus provost debated the latest UO tuition plan for the fall. Schill told the city club that the focus on tuition rates is misplaced.

"We have not, to be honest, met our full potential," Schill told club members the UO is running a slow race for student achievement. Only half of full-time UO students graduate in four years. One third can't graduate in six years.

Now students have a new concern, a threat of raised tuition.

"I believe this focus is misplaced. Instead they and we need to focus on timely success and graduation," Schill said.

Schill said he hopes a new program will keep more students on track to finish on time.

"So the Oregon Commitment is a $17 million investment with a goal of improving our graduation rate by 10 percentage points," he said.

He expects the goal will be met by 2020. He said these steps will help cut student costs.

But still, student leaders are upset about the prospects for a tuition hike this fall. The raise could increase the cost of attending school by up to 4.5 percent.

"My main concern is that the dialogue with the students isn't quite there," said Kevin Dobyns, ASUO senate member.

The ASUO senate proposed a compromise to only increase tuition by 3.5 percent. Dobyns says he hopes the administration listens.

"That would be a more manageable increase. Obviously we would love to see tuition remain the same," he said.

The UO board of trustees will hold a final vote on the tuition package in March.

Meanwhile, Shill said progress is underway for a major, $2 billion campaign at the UO to fund academic programs and research.

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