As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named Arizona State University; the University of Memphis; the University of Nevada, Reno; the University of Rhode Island; and Wayne State University as finalists for its 2018 Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize, and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion. One of the five finalists will be named the 2018 Degree Completion Award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting, November 11-13, in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this final of a five-part series, APLU profiles Wayne State University’s efforts to improve retention and degree completion.
Wayne State University created a Student Retention Initiative in 2011, investing more than $10 million in student success over the following five years. The initiative worked to improve student success by hiring professional academic advisers, improving curriculum in general education courses, increasing support for faculty teaching development, bolstering support for underprepared students, establishing first-year experiences for new students, and strengthening financial aid. The university also established a student retention and tracking system to monitor student progress. Finally, Wayne State recently created the WSU Warrior Way Back Program, a debt forgiveness program for adult learners who cannot return to college because of past-due balances.
The comprehensive approach to student success has yielded remarkable gains, with Wayne State’s graduation rate nearly doubling in six years, increasing from 26 to 47 percent. Gains have been particularly pronounced among first-generation, low-income, and minority students. In light of this progress, the university is now planning new efforts to further reduce educational disparities and to improve our graduation rate.
Learn more about the other 2018 Degree Completion Award finalists.