By Adrienne Moore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A first-of-its-kind graduation czar has been brought in to help bolster low on-time graduation rates at Sacramento State.

Currently, only 9 percent of first-time freshmen at Sacramento State are expected to graduate in four years—the lowest in the California State University system.

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Jim Dragna believes the university can more than double that number in the next decade with a goal to hit 24 percent by 2025.

“I do think our overall plan is a 24-percent, 4-year graduation rate. That’s in 10 years,” he said. “I think within 5 years, we’re probably be be either at that mark or we’ll even be beyond that marker.”

He’s a licensed psychologist responsible for boosting on-time graduation rates from a disappointing 9 percent. His first order of business is next year’s launch of new software that allows students to develop a personalized four-year plan.

“Basically a student is able to gain almost a customized approach to directing their pathway to success—in this case—pathway to graduation,” he said.

While many students admit they’re cautiously optimistic, some faculty say Dragna’s position isn’t money well spent.

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“There’s a lot of different prerequisites and it’s just so much harder to get classes here,” said Cassidy Lobaugh. “And so, I’m looking at least 2 more years when I should’ve been graduating next spring.”

Part of the solution includes 80 additional classes for the spring are all part of the solution, but the classroom crunch is only part of the equation.

According to California Faculty Association member Lois Boulgarides, the $400,000 in extra money to hire new faculty isn’t doing the trick.

“Some faculty searches are going unfilled because people won’t come for the salary being offered,” she said. “So that’s going to be a problem when we want to graduate students and we can’t offer them permanent, full-time faculty to fill those positions.”

With the university spending $4.7 million on its 33 graduation initiatives, Dragna says he’s eager to see the results.

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“If we have 35 more students graduate in a 4-year time, that raises it 1 percentage point,” he said.

Adrienne Moore