Colorado State University helps launch national effort to boost student access and achievement

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As a national leader in bolstering student success, Colorado State University is participating in a massive new effort in which 130 public universities and systems will work together to increase college access, close the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.

The participating institutions will work within “clusters” of four to 12 institutions as they concurrently implement innovative and effective practices to advance student success on their campuses. Collectively, the institutions enroll 3 million students, including 1 million students who receive Pell Grants. CSU will serve as the lead institution in the Western Area cluster.

National impact

Read more about Powered by Publics and CSU’s leadership role in Inside Higher Ed.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is organizing the collaborative effort, known as Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success, and announced the plan at its 131st Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

CSU’s student success initiatives have led to historic highs in retention rates among first-year freshmen and transfer students, and historic highs in four-, five- and six-year graduation rates. Additionally, the university has reduced graduation gaps for first generation, low-income and minority groups.

“After more than a decade of focusing on student success at Colorado State University, we’ve learned that collaboration is the key to our progress – across universities and in collaboration with other schools and institutions like APLU,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “Like all universities, we want every student we admit to succeed because it’s important to them – and to our world – that they do. We also recognize that we can work more strategically and creatively together as a higher education community to fully support equity and college completion for all students.”

Largest collaborative effort

Powered by Publics represents the largest ever collaborative effort to improve college access, advance equity, and increase college degrees awarded. In addition to committing to those goals, participating institutions like CSU have pledged to share aggregate data demonstrating their progress to help spur lasting change across the higher education sector.

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees. That’s what Powered by Publics is all about and why we’re thrilled to work with our member institutions toward such an important national goal.”

By design, the participating institutions reflect a wide array of characteristics such as enrollment, student demographics, regional workforce needs, and selectivity. The broad diversity of the institutions is intended to help create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms that can be adopted and scaled across a variety of institution types, including those with limited resources.

View the list of institutions participating in the initiative and their clusters

The clusters have identified anticipated focus areas for their work. One cluster, for example, expects to work collaboratively to integrate data collection systems across their campuses to better monitor student progress and make data-informed decisions. Another cluster expects to tackle financial aid and student financial literacy, while a separate cluster is planning to work to integrate career advising early into a student’s academic journey to both speed students’ path to a degree and better prepare them for the workforce.

The effort will be overseen by APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which the association created this year to help drive transformational change across the public higher education sector. A core value of the center and its participating institutions will be rooted in a commitment to sharing data and successful innovative practices to help drive progress across the entire sector of public higher education. The center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the participating institutions to the broader public higher education community.

A national advisory council of higher education thought leaders will provide a strategic vision and guidance for the center, which will work to build upon and complement existing initiatives around institutional change and student success.

About APLU

APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.