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University of Wisconsin Madison
Center for
Public University Transformation

Julia Michaels
Deputy Executive Director
Center for Public
University Transformation
(202) 478-6071


Each transformation cluster will determine how to work together to refine, implement, and scale innovative practices that address shared challenges among the participating institutions. Clusters may, for example, choose to work on adaptive courseware, proactive advising, or completion-focused financial aid approaches that are unique or appropriate for the students attending institutions in the cluster.

To develop the transformation clusters, APLU will build upon its existing networks of institutions that are addressing shared challenges or expanding capacity in similar areas. Clusters may form around geographic areas or types of institutions.

A core value of the APLU Center for Public University Transformation and its participating institutions will be rooted in a commitment to sharing data and innovative, successful practices to help drive progress across the entire sector of public higher education. The Center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the 100 participating institutions to the broader public higher education community.

A national advisory council of respected 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.

To improve the association’s ability to scale student success initiatives, APLU received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support internal reorganization and capacity-building efforts.

Project Highlights

  • 100 change-ready universities
  • 10 transformation clusters
  • 2 million undergraduates

Project Goals

  • Produce hundreds of thousands* more degrees by 2025
  • Eliminate the achievement gap while expanding access
  • Share key data within the clusters and promulgate proven practices across the entire public higher education sector.


APLU’s overall proposed strategy for organizational change contains three core elements:

  • Align APLU’s existing degree completion initiatives into the Center for Public University Transformation to focus efforts and accelerate shared goals;
  • Collaborate with member universities and, where appropriate, community colleges to scale evidence-based strategies and incubate new solutions for student success that can be applied across a diverse set of institutions; and
  • Build a set of national partnerships to diffuse lessons learned and drive progress across the higher education sector.