Captain Skyhawk is shown during the grand opening of the UT Martin Somerville Center in this 2017 file photo.

UT Martin to host Skyhawk Regional Retention Summit May 7-8

The University of Tennessee at Martin will host the inaugural Skyhawk Regional Retention Summit on May 7-8 in the Boling University Center. Public and private two- and four-year institutions across the southeast are invited to join the conversation surrounding student retention, persistence and success in higher education. The registration deadline is April 15, and the cost to attend is $50 per person.

“This summit will provide a unique forum for leaders from many kinds of higher education institutions to discuss different ways to answer one fundamental question: ‘How can we ensure that our students succeed and graduate?’” said Dr. Philip Acree Cavalier, UT Martin provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

A pre-summit workshop for chancellors and presidents, chief academic officers and chief student affairs officers will be held from 2-5 p.m., May 7, in room 111 of the Boling University Center. Dr. John Gardner, CEO of The Gardner Institute, will facilitate the workshop regarding the roles of senior leaders in retention efforts. A reception and dinner will follow in the Champions Club.

The summit itself will begin with breakfast at 8:30 a.m., May 8, in the Boling University Center Welcome Center, and the main program will feature Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor; Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and Gardner as speakers. Discussion sessions on common regional challenges; student support beyond the classroom; serving first-generation, low-income, minority and other student populations; first-year persistence; effective use of data; and transfer student support will be led by academic affairs and student affairs leaders from institutions in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Illinois. Lunch will be provided at noon in the Duncan Ballroom.

Carver became UT Martin chancellor on Jan. 3, 2017, and has developed a five-year strategic plan; increased overall headcount and first-year freshman enrollment; and developed dual-enrollment partnerships with both Dyersburg and Jackson State community colleges during his two years in office. His tenure also includes the additions of several new programs to the course catalog, including a new bachelor’s degree program in agricultural business; a 3+3 legal studies concentration for English and political science majors in partnership with the UT College of Law; a 3+1 transfer track in partnership with the UT Health Science Center’s School of Pharmacy; concentrations in data science and digital hardware and embedded systems in the Department of Computer Science; a concentration in mechatronics in the Department of Engineering; and concentrations in higher education leadership, special education and literacy in the master’s degree program for educational studies.

Krause is currently executive director of both the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. Prior to assuming this role, he served as founding executive director for the Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55 initiatives, during which time he coordinated the launch of the nation’s first free community college program.

Gardner is chair and CEO of The Gardner Institute, which works with colleges and universities to strengthen their assessment preparation processes and improve actions toward increasing student learning and retention rates. Gardner is best known as the initiator of a movement to reform what he called “The First-Year Experience” in 1982, and since 1990 he has developed a second focus on “The Senior Year Experience.” He is also the founding director and senior fellow of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, as well as a distinguished professor emeritus of library and information science at the University of South Carolina.

More information, as well as online registration, is available at For assistance, contact the UT Martin Office of Academic Affairs at 731-881-7010.


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