Decreased rates remain above average

Sean Sauro, Managing Editor

Pitt-Johnstown six-year graduation rates decreased 4 percent from 2011 to 2012 while admissions rose 3 percent during that period, according to 2013 University of Pittsburgh Common Data Sets.

The number of first-term, full-time, undergraduate students increased from 756 enrolled in 2005 to 779 students in 2006.

Though enrollment increased, the total number of students graduated within six years decreased from 449 students in 2011 to 428 students in 2012.

Despite graduation decrease, Pitt-Johnstown Registrar and Associate Vice President Christian Stumpf said graduation rate fluctuation is common.

“If you look at the rate’s history, you’ll see it ranges in the past eight years,” Stumpf said. “It goes up and down.”

According to the data sets, from 2005 to 2012, six-year graduation rates have fluctuated with the highest percentage at 63 percent in 2009 and the lowest at 55 percent in 2012.

While 2012 marks the lowest rate in seven years, Stumpf said the decline is not a reflection of Pitt-Johnstown’s academic potential and said the results may stem from other issues.

“My guess is that the economy has played a large role in the persistence of graduation,” Stumpf said. “The decrease correlates with the rise of the recession.

“Some students may have dropped out due to taking an economic hit.”

Similarly, Academic Affairs Assistant Vice President Paul Douglas Newman said the decline is minor and added that it could have been affected by multiple circumstances.

“It seems like there are certain semesters where a lot of students dropped due to health issues and then the next it’s a money issue or a family issue,” he said.

“It’s not always an academic issue, and it’s hard to predict which way it will go.”

Newman said the university is doing well academically and applauded the Admissions Office for bringing in students with higher grades coming out of high school.

“Our Admissions Office and (Pitt-Oakland’s) Admissions Office have been doing a great job,” he said.

“You can’t get into the main campus if you don’t have an SAT score of at least a 1250 so if there are applicants who might have scored 1150, they might say, ‘Hey why not go to Johnstown?’

“That helps us heighten our admission.”

Newman said, over the last three years, the Pitt-Johnstown freshman-to -sophomore retention rate has risen to 75 percent from somewhere in the mid-60s and added that the national average is in the 50s.

Even with a 4 percent graduation rate decrease, Stumpf said Pitt-Johnstown has remained above the 53 percent national average.

He said though there was a minimal decrease, Pitt-Johnstown administrators have done their best to maintain graduation persistence and said the Johnstown campus normally out-performs other regional campuses.

The data set lists Pitt-Greensburg’s 2012 six-year rate at 48 percent and Pitt-Bradford’s at 49 percent.

The Pitt-Greensburg rate decreased 4 percent since 2011 while Pitt-Bradford rose 1 percent. Pitt-Oakland’s rate remained constant at 79 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Pitt-Titusville’s rates were not posted.