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Chancellor Champions Student Success

UC Riverside Chancellor Calls for Emphasis on Student Success at ACE Annual Meeting

France A. Córdova champions the needs of students for more supportive and personal contact at an annual gathering of higher education’s leaders

(February 13, 2006)

Chancellor France A. CórdovaEnlarge

Chancellor France A. Córdova

LOS ANGELES, Calif. ( -- UC Riverside Chancellor France A. Córdova emphasized student success during the American Council on Education (ACE) annual meeting Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Córdova, an astrophysicist, exhorted colleges to change their admissions and teaching practices to give students the tools they need to make it through college. "Whether our concerns are about the future of an individual student, our nation’s competitiveness, or the health and security of the world’s people, the underlying issue is the challenge of making our students’ college experience successful."

She said that graduation rates are too low at most universities -- around 34 percent after four years, and 56 percent after six years. She said the graduation rates are especially low in the fields of science, math and technology, and that structures within the education system are acting as gate-keepers, barring interested students from success in those fields.

“The national consciousness is not yet fully aware of the gravity of the lack of student success, or its consequences for society,” she said in front of approximately 700 people gathered in Los Angeles during the Robert H. Atwell Lecture, named for the former head of the ACE. “The loss of human capital is an issue that should keep all of us awake at night.”

Córdova called for changes that could include smaller class sizes, more personal attention from professors, the use of new technologies such as online chats, and close partnerships between the community college system and four-year schools. Sometimes, she said, it is simply discouraging comments from instructors that winnow out those who lack confidence. An announcement at the beginning of class that half the class will fail is an unnecessarily discouraging comment, Córdova said.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the nation's unifying voice for higher education. ACE serves as a consensus leader on key higher education issues and seeks to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. This was the 88th annual meeting.

The Atwell lecture has been an influential speaking platform in the past. For instance, former UC President Richard Atkinson used the Atwell lecture to call for eliminating the influence of the SAT.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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