The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has awarded the University of Wisconsin-Parkside the 2022 AASCU Excellence & Innovation Award for Student Success and College Completion, a testament to years of strategic efforts.
“Your improving student-success program was selected for its outstanding results and potential to influence and serve as a model for other institutions,” said Dr. Mildred García, AASCU president and CEO.
An element of the UW-Parkside 2025 Strategic Framework is to increase the number of graduates annually by 50 percent. “We need more well-educated graduates in our region and beyond,” said Dr. Rob Ducoffe, UW-Parkside provost and vice chancellor. “There are a number of ways to achieve that and improving student success is our most important priority.”
The proportion of working adults in Wisconsin, the number of high school graduates, and college enrollments statewide are declining. At the same time, there is growing demand from employers for talent with post-secondary education credentials.
“There are also intolerable gaps in the quality of life among people of color and white residents in the communities we serve in southeast Wisconsin,” Ducoffe said. “We must and can address these challenges by providing more access to a university education in an environment intentionally designed to help all students succeed.”
UW-Parkside continues to set historic records for the number of graduates, due in part to expanding academic programs that now include new online and master’s programs. UW-Parkside is recognized as having one of the nation’s 10 fastest growing master’s populations among small colleges and universities. Improved graduation rates are leading to higher undergraduate retention rates – a measurement of students who successfully complete each year and return to continue their education.
While graduation and retention rates for students of color are at historic highs, UW-Parkside Chancellor Dr. Debbie Ford acknowledges the gaps in educational attainment. “We have elevated equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice as the boundary-spanning aim in our new Academic and Student Affairs Plan 2025 (ASAP 25),” Ford said. “We have joined the Moonshot for Equity, the nation’s first public-private consortium to eliminate graduation gaps among students of color and white students. We are leaders in student-success work within the Higher Education Regional Alliance, an 18-institution collaborative to improve student success and employer access to talent in southeast Wisconsin.”
DeAnn Possehl, UW-Parkside assistant provost for student success, also points to a strong partnership with Higher Expectations of Racine County. “The assistance of Higher Expectations made it possible for UW-Parkside to receive support from the Lumina Foundation,” Possehl said. “Being designated as a Lumina Talent Hub allowed us to implement and strengthen strategies that work for our region’s students. We did that by making important structural changes to the student experience.”
As students who are historically underserved by higher education continue to make up a larger demographic in southeast Wisconsin, Ducoffe says the university is implementing a wide range of equity-focused student-success initiatives. Fifty-six percent of UW-Parkside students are the first in their families to attend college or university; 58 percent are Pell Grant eligible, and a third are students of color.
Among the initiatives:
15-to-Finish, an initiative that encourages students to take enough courses to graduate in a timely manner.
Math pathways and co-requisite remediation have transformed the way the university teaches mathematics to freshman and is based on core insights.
Navigate, a technology assisted advising software, that provides students with customized support.
The university also places great emphasis on High Impact Practices (HIPs) that include community-based learning (CBL), internships, and on-campus employment. “Student data overwhelmingly demonstrates that participation in CBL or internships is highly associated with students’ likelihood of graduating,” Ducoffe said.
UW-Parkside students who participated in community-based learning had a graduation rate of 66 percent and those students who participated in internships (or field experiences) had an 88 percent graduation rate, which exceeded those who did not.
“The most important commitment we can make to our region,” Ford said, “is to produce more high-quality graduates who will go on to contribute in meaningful ways to the civic, cultural, health, and economic vitality of our area.”
UW-Parkside is among two UW System schools to be recognized by AASCU. Award recipients will be recognized during AASCU’s Annual Conference scheduled for Nov. 13-15 in Carlsbad, Calif. The award includes a $500 donation to the UW-Parkside Future Focus scholarship fund, which provides annual scholarships and support to Parkside students.
To learn more about UW-Parkside go to: https://www.uwp.edu/
To learn more about AASCU, go to: https://www.aascu.org/
Written by UW-Parkside
Link to original story: https://www.uwp.edu/explore/news/aascu.cfm