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Portland State University
Ashlie Prioleau, Ed.D.
Executive Director,
Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) &
APLU Vice President, Urban Initiatives

Christel Perkins, Ed.D.
Deputy Executive Director, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities

Winston Savoy
Program Coordinator, USU

Meet the full USU Staff

Revolutionizing the University

In an effort to boost student learning and degree completion, APLU and USU awarded grants to seven public urban research universities in 2014 to research, develop, and test new, scalable university business models. These transformations, part of USU’s Transformational Planning Grant (TPG), are aimed at establishing a comprehensive playbook for overhauling how students progress through college.

USU shared the practices and findings advanced through the now‐concluded phase‐one TPG projects with the more than 200 APLU members to help public universities better understand how to optimize the education they provide to their rapidly evolving student populations. The practices identified through the first phase of TPG were also outlined in a report, Revolutionizing the Role of the University: Collaboration to Advance Innovation in Higher Education, published last year.

Frontier Set

Extending the transformational work at USUs, three institutions have been selected from the initial TPG cohort to implement and rigorously evaluate their projects in what is now called the Frontier Set supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The three universities selected for the second phase are Florida International University, Georgia State University, and Portland State University. Their TPG projects focus on: reforming the teaching culture, starting in gateway courses; creating interactive learning environments while bolstering student advising networks; and enhancing the advising process by helping students map out their academic trajectory.

These three universities joined a select group of 29 community colleges, universities, and state systems committed to significantly increasing student access and success and eliminating racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in college attainment. The Gates Foundation’s Frontier Set aims to examine these institutions implementation of reforms to determine how institutional change happens.

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