degree completion APLU
Skip Navigation
University of Wisconsin Madison
Center for
Public University Transformation

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

Transformation Clusters Initiative

Public university leaders have spent years creating and testing solutions to help students succeed in college, complete their degrees, and be well-prepared for the workforce. These efforts have achieved significant success at individual institutions, but have not been fully brought to scale across the public higher education sector.

APLU created a new national Center for Public University Transformation to grow, innovate, and sustain effective solutions that are scalable across the diverse set of institutions comprising the public university sector.

To achieve this vision, APLU’s Center will convene 100 change-ready universities within 14 “transformation clusters” and two state systems – reaching more than two million undergraduate students nationwide. Each 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. 

Public research universities share a commitment to providing students from all backgrounds an affordable, high-quality education that aligns with workforce needs. APLU will work with the institutions in the transformation clusters to facilitate a collaborative community of learning so the entire public higher education community can identify and adopt evidence-based practices that drive progress toward equity and college completion.

University Recruitment Process & Application Deadline

As of July 13, 2018, the APLU Transformation Cluster Initiative is no longer accepting new members. To form the clusters, APLU reached out to all United States-based APLU members with a Request for Interest for the initiative. Although the application deadline will soon pass, institutions can reach out to Julia Michaels, Director of the APLU Center for Public University Transformation, to express their interest in joining the initiative should a second application period be opened at a later date.


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.