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October 22, 2002

Student retention subject
of Livingston Lecture

Chemistry professor Dan Decious will challenge faculty to continue improving student retention during the annual Livingston Lecture at California State University, Sacramento. The talk will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 in the University Union Ballroom. A reception will follow.

Nationally, some 50 percent of baccalaureate-seeking students never graduate, Decious said. "What makes this particularly sad is that fully 75 percent of the students we lose are as well prepared academically as those who graduate," he said. "This represents an incredible loss, not only to the students and their families but to the nation."

The title of Decious's talk "Making Use of the CSUS Web: A Small Town Retention Model" refers not to the Internet, but to the network of resources available to help students succeed.

Decious, a faculty member since 1967, said that vital should network not be forgotten while the campus is undergoing a 50 percent turnover in faculty over a five-year period.

Senior faculty must pass on what they know, he said.

"We're losing a memory bank of information about how to help students graduate," Decious said. "I want to inform the faculty, especially the new faculty, in my 40 minutes about what a wonderful set of people and resources we have to keep students in class and get them a degree."

Decious said senior faculty members know "who is out there, who can help and that they're delighted to help."

"It beats the heck out of shuffling papers if you can help someone's son or daughter get a degree," he said.

Helping students succeed has long been a passion of "Doctor Dan," as Decious is affectionately known. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960, he went on to earn his doctorate in theoretical physical chemistry from the University of Washington in 1965. It was there he offered his first pre-exam review session to 60 students, only to have 250 show up. Two years as a research associate at the Johns Hopkins University did nothing to lessen his enthusiasm for aiding students.

At CSUS, Decious and Tom Griffith worked together to create the Academic Advising Center, which Griffith directs. Decious worked as an orientation counselor for 14 years and, as the chemistry department's advising coordinator, remains available 15 hours each week to advise students or help them with class work.

Decious is also a passionate advocate for educational equity. He has coordinated the faculty-student mentor program and taught in a program for underrepresented ethnic students at the UC Davis Medical School for 11 years. He also acts as a "freeway flier" in the National Institute of Health-funded Science Transfer Program, aiding the transfer of underrepresented ethnic students from community college to CSUS.

Decious' devotion to students has earned him several honors, among them the CSUS Alumni Association's Outstanding Faculty Award, the student-selected T.H. Cheng Outstanding Chemistry Teaching Award, the School of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, the CSUS Outstanding Freshmen Advocate Award and two CSUS meritorious performance awards.

The Livingston Lecture is named for the late Jack Livingston, a respected CSUS government professor and faculty leader from 1954 to 1982 who inspired a generation of faculty and students.

The Livingston is among the University's most prestigious honors. It recognizes a faculty member who has played an active role in the life of the University and shown a strong commitment to students while remaining active in creative and scholarly activities. The faculty senate organizes the lecture.


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