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Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen Updates 'Work Plan'

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In his first spring address Thursday, Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen plans to update the progress on nine initiatives or work plan, he outlined in his fall address.  

One of the nine initiatives Nelsen announced last fall was the desire to hire a "graduation czar or czarina" to help improve graduation rates at Sacramento State. Only nine percent of undergraduates receive their degree in four-years. The graduation rate for six-year students is 46 percent.

"A nine percent graduation rate for four-year students is unacceptable," Nelsen said during his August address. "A 46 percent graduation rate for six-year students is not acceptable either." 

Nelsen filled the "graduation czar" position Wednesday, when he appointed Dr. James Dragna as Executive Director of University Initiatives and Student Success. Dragna, who starts his new job January 27, recently served as Director of Student Success at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

Sacramento State has received $555,982 from the California State University system to help relieve course demand and improve graduation rates. 

CSU has determined that, system-wide, 13 percent of students need to retake some prerequisite courses. That means many first-time freshmen have to wait a semester or more to get into these courses, which are required before they can take subsequent courses. 

That's the kind of "academic congestion" that is a factor in Sacramento State's four-year graduation rate of nine percent. 

In an effort to reduce other "bottlenecks" that slow graduation, Sacramento State has added 46 new tenure-track faculty and 77 course selections.

It is also using a software program that analyzes data to create the most efficient course schedules and is planning to roll out degree-planning software to map custom graduation paths for students.