DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > In to win the long game of eliminating the achievement gap: Darryl Arrington named associate vice president of student retention and success

In to win the long game of eliminating the achievement gap: Darryl Arrington named associate vice president of student retention and success

Darryl Arrington with students

(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
The start of a new academic year always brings excitement and anticipation, and Academic Convocation is often a time when ambitious plans for the year ahead are announced. This year was no exception when President Rob Manuel announced DePaul will eliminate its achievement gap within ten years, and new Associate Vice President for Student Retention and Success Darryl Arrington would lead the charge.

While DePaul’s graduation rate exceeds the national average, there’s still work to do. White students’ four-year graduation rate is currently at 61 percent while African-American students achieved a 44 percent four-year graduation rate and Hispanics students 42 percent. Those are 17 and 19 percent gaps, respectively.

Arrington has played the role of student, alumni, employee, administrator and parent at various points over his 34-plus years at DePaul. Regardless of the role, his focus has always been on student equity and success. For many who know him, his promotion comes as little surprise.

“Retention, persistence, graduation and success are important, and require our attention,” says Arrington. “It was time for DePaul to pay more attention to equity in our own house, being something that we believe strongly in and for which we are dedicated advocates. I’m humbled to be the person named to this role to work with partners across the institution to build on the good work that is already being done to ensure that all students have an equitable experience at DePaul.”

Arrington stressed that DePaul’s retention and graduation rates outperform the national average, but we want to do better. In his new role, he hopes to bring a higher level of awareness around issues of retention and success, more people to contribute to change, and encouragement to be open to the innovation needed to help eliminate the gap.
“My goal is to bring strategy and apply tactics to make thoughtful changes to current practices, and introduce some new ones, so that students find the institution easy to navigate and they get exactly what they need when they need it,” Arrington says.

One big change that coincides with this initiative is the joining of forces of Arrington in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity and Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Michael Wright. Together they will re-envision, redesign and restructure the many points of interactions, processes and policies that can support success and completion rates. They will begin this transformation by remodeling the existing one-stop-shop office in DePaul Central. 

While DePaul Central will continue to handle financial aid, student accounts, records and registration, Arrington believes that other services and supports can be addressed through a reimagining of the office. The hope is that students will have to make fewer stops at separate offices to better serve their needs and be successful at DePaul.

Arrington shares that best practices in eliminating an achievement gap include more user-friendly systems, broad information and knowledge sharing among all those who serve students, and improving the timeliness of service.

“Often, cutting edge technology systems are implemented to support these goals,” Arrington says. “With the recent implementation of the Salesforce Student Success Hub, we are closer to the dream, and in the near future we will proactively address student needs rather than continue to be reactive to them.”
Arrington’s first orders of business, though, are to develop a strategic plan, create a data dashboard for student success and get to work on reimaging how DePaul Central serves students. This work has already begun and significant progress will be made on all three fronts by the end of fall quarter.

“It’s an honor to steward DePaul’s process for addressing the achievement gap, and I know that I have many great partners in this work,” Arrington says. “In the end, the goal is to deliver on DePaul’s promise: when you choose this institution and we choose to have you join us, we are going to do everything we possibly can to ensure you have a great experience and that you walk across that stage when you leave here.”

Eliminating the gap is a long game, and Arrington notes that intentionality, patience, and perseverance are going to be required to win.

“I understand how changes to systems and processes affect faculty, staff and students,” Arrington says. “I will do my best to make sure that everyone has the information and support they need so they have a holistic understanding of the effort and then a commitment to stay involved in the process.”

In the meantime, keep an eye open for regular progress updates from the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity on the Designing DePaul ​web page​.