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Working for Keeps

The registration deadline for spring semester was a week away and Adrian Schiess was on a mission. More than 30 freshmen hadn’t registered to return, and his job was to find them and keep them here.

Through phone calls, face-to-face meetings and dogged persistence, Schiess whittled the losses to just 15 students out of 757 in the class, returning 17 to the rolls and giving the University a mid-year freshman retention figure he could boast about—a record 98 percent.

Such figures are a major reason why the University does so well in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best colleges.

Schiess, who became the University’s first freshman retention director in 1990, acts as an advocate for first-year students, assisting with a wide range of issues that can overwhelm students in their most difficult—and most vulnerable—year.

In this year’s U.S. News rankings, the University’s annual retention rate for freshmen was 90 percent—the best in the Midwest and 8 percent higher than similar universities.

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