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UTC has the lowest retention rate of first-time freshman students in the UT system, according to a UT board academic affairs report.

In 2008, the retention rate at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was 60.8 percent, in contrast with UT, which had an 83.6 percent retention rate, and UT Martin, which kept 70.9 percent of its freshman class, according to the report released Friday.

"The bottom line I want to make is that we are seriously concerned with the retention rate at Chattanooga," said Dr. Roger Brown, chancellor at UTC, who faced questions from board members.

Dr. Brown said UTC currently is pursuing strategies to reverse the poor retention rate on the campus. Much of the decline in retention rates of first-year students has been due to UTC's rapid growth and its shift from being a commuter school to being more of a residential college, he said.

"We did not at the same pace keep up with student support services," said Dr. Brown. "We are putting resources in that direction now and we are starting to see results."

Phil Oldham, provost at UTC, said officials have begun contacting first-time freshman students that miss more than two classes.

"We believe that makes a major difference in having students realize they have to put out more effort," said Dr. Brown.

Dr. Oldham also said the school has created a position in the provost's office to deal with issues of retention and formed a campus-wide task force to discuss the issue.

"It will take a concerted effort over a period of time, but I think we are seeing progress," said Dr. Oldham.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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