Tarleton’s Town Hall increases graduation rates

By: Nicholas Ratcliff

Senior Producer 

Tarleton State University’s Town Hall event has provided students with a unique opportunity that has statistically proven to help students graduate at a higher rate. 

“The data has shown consistently that through Town Hall courses, we are increasing retention across gender, ethnicity and first-generation students,” Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Dr. Eric Morrow told the Empire Tribune.

Morrow is referring to the data he has collected over this event since 2016. This data shows the 467 students who chose to participate in the 2016 Town Hall event are graduating at a six-year rate that exceeds 66%. 

The students who chose not to participate in the Town Hall event during 2016, are graduating at a 6-year rate of only 44%. 

Universities in the A&M system and Texas have noticed the impact the Town Hall experience has provided the students of Tarleton. 

Tarleton is working on a way to assist these universities in starting their own program based off their model. 

The event was started at Chico State University in California. 

According to Dr. Casey Thompson, an assistant professor of government, legal studies and philosophy at Tarleton, the program started after a group of faculty and professors visited Chico State and observed their Town Hall event. 

Tarleton’s staff agreed that the university would benefit from its own version of the program. The University hired Thompson to help create and manage the Town Hall event. 

Town Hall is a program at Tarleton where students who are enrolled in Federal and Texas Government pick a topic to learn about and study for the semester. Once they have done some research, they are provided with an opportunity to meet an expert in the field that they chose. 

These meetings take place on campus and give the students an opportunity to ask any questions they want in a small group setting. 

According to Thompson, the main goal of the event is to promote civic engagement to students. The program stresses the importance of government in the everyday lives of US citizens. 

They use Town Hall as a stepping stone to provide the students with real world experience by engaging them with government entities. 

Thompson has recently started trying to expand the topics students choose from. 

In the past, the government department picked the topics based off current events. This is going to change.

“One of the goals going forward is to make this a campus-wide engagement,” Thompson said. “I would really like to go over to the Ag school and just ask ‘What are the government issues facing the agriculture industry’ and then try to add those issues as topics.”

This would allow students taking their required government class to choose a topic that matches their major. 

By choosing a topic that applies to their field, students experince how the government impacts their future career. 

As the Town Hall event continues to grow, so will the opportunity for students to engage with their government in a real-world setting. 

Next year, Town Hall is expected to have over 2,400 students in attendance, and it only plans to expand from there. 

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