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Dosal a finalist in UCF senior vice president for student success search

The search committee announced April 13 its three finalists for the senior vice president for student success position, one of which is USF Vice President of Student Affairs and Student Success Paul Dosal. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF

Vice President of Student Affairs and Student Success Paul Dosal’s 12-year long administrative tenure may come to an end soon as he is a finalist in UCF’s search for the same job title.

UCF’s senior vice president for student success position was created recently, and whoever is chosen will be the first to hold the title, according to UCF Assistant Vice President of Communications Chad Binette. 

The final three candidates were announced April 13 at a committee meeting, Binette said. Who will take on the role is to be decided by the provost, but it is unknown when a favored candidate will be chosen.

Dosal presented himself to community members at a hybrid open forum Tuesday. Florida Gulf Coast University Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Mitch Cordova and Minnesota State University, Mankato Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management David Jones, the other candidates, also had or will have forums April 21 and 28, respectively.

At USF, Dosal is responsible for the universitywide student success initiative, which includes raising retention and graduation rates, boosting student satisfaction and minimizing financial debt, according to his USF biography.

UCF’s senior vice president for student success position will be similar in that it will involve creating initiatives to improve focus and accountability for student success, according to the UCF position search page.

At the forum, Dosal said he was assigned to help improve USF’s metrics, with the end goal of achieving preeminent status, which was attained in 2018. Now, Dosal said he feels as if his job at USF is done and it’s time for new challenges.

“I also feel almost as if I’ve accomplished the tasks that I was set out to do at USF,” he said. “The journey has been great. I’ve been the champion for our student success movement for 12 years. 

“We hit all the targets. We’re not done yet, but I also know that the future gains are not going to be as dramatic as they have been before and we’re going to be happy with 1% or 2% improvements every year. That’s not as exciting perhaps, as coming here to build a movement and to take this university to the next level.” 

The six-year graduation rate at USF in 2009, the year before Dosal was given his current title, was 48%. He said this past year it reached 76%. 

In the past 20 years, the four-year graduation rate has gone from 20% to 62%, according to Dosal. The minimum to attain preeminence was 60%, but he said USF is on a continuous journey to improve.

Dosal said to raise the metrics, he analyzed the rates and tried to find the root of the issue alongside colleagues. Departments across campus tried to find and focus on students who showed they might not reach that mark, and then provided them with the resources they needed to, he said. 

“The metrics are a tool for helping us understand how well we’re serving our students,” Dosal said. “It’s important to note that we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do for our students.”

Dosal said he was drawn to UCF because of his current relationships and connections to the university. If the same position were offered at another university, he said he wouldn’t have applied.

UCF is a good fit for him, he said. The university’s push toward preeminence and to reach top 25 rankings is something he said he would like to aid in. 

“I think I can contribute to the cause,” he said. “I’m humble, though. I don’t think that I will come in, if selected, and provide all the answers. 

“What has worked at USF in the past doesn’t necessarily work here. I’ll be careful about that. I want to make sure we do no harm, because UCF is already on a strong trajectory and my goal would be to accelerate that trajectory.”