We acknowledge that good recruitment practices and providing a high quality academic and professional environment as described above have strong influences on retention outcomes. However, we distinguish Retention as its own domain. Our plan’s view of retention includes a focus on those policies, practices, and resources that help eliminate typical barriers to success outcomes, including those barriers likely to be disproportionately experienced by individuals from historically underrepresented and/or marginalized backgrounds.
With regard to graduate students, retention focuses on minimizing or eliminating barriers to progress in and completion of the graduate program. Within our Rackham organization, retention refers to policies, practices, and norms related to efforts and success in retaining excellent, diverse staff. Questions we considered include: In what ways do student progress indicators (e.g., rates of student completion) differ across various demographic groups? Within Rackham, in what ways do progress indicators (staff promotion, turnover, and other related measures) differ across individuals from various demographic, social, and cultural groups? What do we know about barriers and challenges experienced by diverse members of our graduate student and Rackham staff communities that might impact their abilities to fulfill their potential for success? How can we use this knowledge to improve our programming, policies, and other supports?