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APLU Announces Second Annual Degree Completion Awards

May 8, 2014—In an effort to recognize public universities that have made significant progress in successfully retaining and graduating students, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today announced the opening of the application period for its second annual Most Visible Progress (MVP) National Degree Completion Awards.

“Many public universities are taking thoughtful and bold steps to improve their retention and degree attainment rates. The MVP Awards will honor those institutions that are making extraordinary progress while simultaneously publicizing their successes so that other universities can replicate them,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “As public universities look to serve more students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, we will need to identify new and revolutionary ways to ensure that students remain in school, receive a strong educations, and ultimately leave our institutions with a meaningful degree in hand.”

The MVP Awards are part of a comprehensive, joint effort by APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to help achieve a national goal of 60 percent degree attainment among adults by 2025. Nearly 500 public universities have pledged to boost college completion as a part of the Project Degree Completion initiative.

There are two MVP Degree Completion Awards for which universities can apply:

  • The MVP Project Degree Completion Trailblazer Award will be presented to one APLU member university that has made exceptional progress in increasing retention toward or completion of a bachelor’s degree for all students during the last three years.
  • The MVP Project Degree Completion Opportunity Award will be presented to one APLU member university that has made exceptional progress in increasing retention toward or successful completion of a bachelor’s degree for historically underrepresented and underserved students during the last three years. The scope of this initiative must impact all students on the campus in that specific category (e.g., all underrepresented minorities, all low-income students, all veterans, etc.)

In addition to the MVP Awards, APLU continues to build a comprehensive strategy to strengthen member campuses in their work to increase student success. The Student Achievement Measure (SAM), introduced last summer, provides a realistic and comprehensive tool to measure more student outcomes. Additionally, a recent grant from the Gates Foundation will support a group of urban universities willing to explore and scale new business models to increase student access and success while recognizing cost efficiencies. Just last week, APLU and AASCU convened organizations and funders engaged in degree attainment activities to advance collective efforts more effectively. Conceptually linking these various endeavors is APLU’s alternative to President Obama’s ratings plan to achieve greater transparency and accountability.

Last year Georgia State University, Florida International University and San Francisco State University were chosen as the inaugural winners of the MVP awards. To help provide other public universities with tools and best practices to enhance their own retainment and degree completion efforts, APLU also released an accompanying report entitled, “High Tech, High Touch: Campus-Based Strategies for Student Success.” That report collectively describes the lessons learned from all MVP Award applicant institutions and profiles the efforts undertaken at each institution. The lessons learned and the university profiles can be found on APLU’s website at www.aplu.org/mvpawards.

This year’s MVP Award winners will be announced at a special ceremony during APLU’s Annual Meeting in Orlando in November 2014, receive a trophy, and be prominently featured on the APLU website and in an APLU publication. The deadline to apply for the awards is July 11, 2014. All APLU institutions are eligible to apply for the award. More information on the application process for the awards can be found here.

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