Diana Rogers-Adkinson talks retention rate at student interview


Ashanti Thomas

Diana Rogers-Adkinson, answers questions from students during her interview for Eastern Illinois University’s next presidential candidate in the Arcola/Tuscola room of Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Tuesday afternoon. When asked about her values, Rogers-Adkinson answered that her first value is “students are always first.”

Katja Benz, Student Government Reporter

Diana Rogers-Adkinson, one of the final four presidential candidates, had her student interview on Thursday.   

Rogers-Adkinson, current provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at the commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, has been in this role since July 2022. She helped merge three universities together to create the Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania: Bloomsburg University, Lock Haven University and Mansfield University.  

Rogers-Adkinson, like the two previous candidates, is a first-generation college student. She has a bachelor’s degree and PhD in special education as well as a degree in mental health counseling.  

Part of her background is in designing curriculums so that students can be more successful in school.  

When she began teaching, she would record audio lectures for her students so they could go back and listen to them if they missed something. She would then post the audio lecture to the content management system that the school used for her students.  

“I do have a really good, grounded understanding of things on how you design curriculum with equity in mind,” Rogers-Adkinson said. “When I was a faculty back in the old 90s I was already recording all of my lectures and podcasting them and putting them up into our student learning management system, so that my students with learning disabilities can go back and re-listen to that tape so that they can review their lectures. I was using Universal Design for learning, which is something all faculty should know [how to do] when you design curriculum with equity in mind.” 

Universal Learning Design is a framework guided in principles for creating flexible learning environments. 

Rogers-Adkinson wants to create a higher retention rate for students. She thinks that will be able to provide better resources for all students, making them want to stay at and graduate from Eastern.  

Retention is the percentage of first year students that stay at Eastern for the next year. Eastern’s present rate is 71% from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022.  

“So, the first area for growth actually is improving our ability to keep the students who start here, to finish here,” Rogers-Adkinson said. “Our first-year retention rate is roughly 70%. Where I’m at currently [is] 78%. Every 100 students at my institution are budget models [for] a million dollars. That’s just flat off the top if I keep 100 more students who didn’t leave, I have a million more dollars in our budget to do things with and support the campus in our unmet needs without having to add new professors because it’s the upper division classes that gets smaller right. You see that you’re in the bigger classes and then we start getting a little smaller. That’s because that’s retention. So, one thing that is a major piece of the conversation along with the graduation rate.” 

Rogers-Adkinson’s philosophy is that students should be a president’s first priority.  

“Number one, students are always first,” Rogers-Adkinson said. “Number two, act with integrity when default, if you’re wondering that it’s the right decision. Defaults number one. Is this the right path for our students to improve their educational outcomes?” 


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]