Colorado State University has been named one of five finalists for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities 2017 Project Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize, and reward public universities across the country that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion.
“Entering college and pursuing a degree is more important than ever before,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “But the critical importance of completing a degree is too often overlooked. Raising degree completion rates remains key to achieving our national goal of 60 percent of adult Americans holding a bachelor’s degree by 2025. Meeting that goal will require increasing not only the number of students entering college, but just as important, the number graduating.
“Colorado State and the other four 2016 Project Degree Completion Award finalists have made great strides in improving student retention and degree completion – and we’re thrilled to share their experiences so other institutions can replicate their approaches and results.”
The other finalists are Boise State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Texas at Austin, and Western Michigan University.
Plan for Excellence
CSU is being considered for its Plan for Excellence: Enhancing Undergraduate Education and Student Success. By providing structured first-year experiences with a focus on low-income, minority, and less academically prepared students, the student success plan helped raise participating students’ graduation rates by 10 percent. For participating students with characteristics that place them at an increased risk of attrition, graduation rates are as much as 44 percent higher than for non-participants.
Other key components of the program include increased student participation in supplemental learning programs, increased student-faculty interaction, and the implementation of active learning programs. Altogether, the initiatives led to a 4 percent increase in retention and a 7 percent increase in the four-year graduation rate for first-time students.
“At Colorado State we’ve had record enrollment each year for a decade and we know that our greatest responsibility is to make sure our students are successful once they are here, and to do everything we can to make sure they graduate with knowledge and experience – and a degree – that will serve them well for the rest of their lives,” said CSU Provost Rick Miranda. “Focusing on student success and completion is hard work and it’s gratifying to see the results: Our graduates carry less student debt, are employed at a higher rate than their peers nationwide – and nine out of 10 CSU graduates say they would chose CSU again.”
The award winner will be announced and all finalists will be recognized at the APLU Annual Meeting, Nov. 12-14, in Washington, D.C. APLU will promote the winning institution’s degree completion efforts among its membership and with external audiences. Additionally, APLU President Peter McPherson will visit the winning campus to meet with university leaders, students, and external stakeholders to celebrate the school’s role as a national leader in developing innovation programs to increase retention and graduation.
About the award
The award is part of Project Degree Completion — a joint initiative that APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities developed in which nearly 500 public colleges and universities have pledged to collectively award 3.8 million more degrees by 2025.
The annual award is open to all APLU members. A panel of seven judges reviewed the applications and determined the finalists.
Past winners of the award are University of California, Riverside (2016); Morgan State University (2015); University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2014); Florida State University (2014); Georgia State University (2013); San Francisco State University (2013); and Florida International University (2013).