Northern Arizona University has been selected to be part of Frontier Set, an innovative new project designed to identify and close the opportunity gaps for college students by transforming how colleges and universities meet the needs of diverse student bodies.

The Frontier Set is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The institutions, which were selected in part because of their integration of evidence-based solutions and improvement in credentialing productivity, will focus their efforts in the next four years identifying and implementing successful strategies to improve graduation rates, especially for low-income and first-generation students and students of color. The research and best practices implemented here will become part of the comprehensive set of ideas for institutional transformation throughout the country.

NAU is one of 31 Frontier Set institutions and one of only six American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) member institutions selected to participate.

“NAU is committed to helping all students find success in college and beyond, and we have created a number of resources to help support our first-generation students and our diverse student population meet their educational goals,” NAU President Rita Cheng said. “Participating in Frontier Set not only provides more tools for us to help students, but it also provides a way for us to share methods with other universities and increase student success all over the country.”

The Frontier Set institutions will continue to focus on institutional transformation through the integration of three key solution areas:

  1. Redesigned planning, advising and student services
  2. Digital learning and next-generation digital courseware
  3. Developmental education reform and supports for learning
student success

Northern Arizona University Winter Commencement, December 2016

NAU also will look at strengthening the implementation and enabling for these solutions through leadership, culture, strategic finance, IT infrastructure, institutional research and data, and policy.

The goals of the four-year program are to accelerate student success gains through these solutions; understanding the processes and tools that lead to transformation; and collaborating with other AASCU member schools to replicate institutional transformation.

“Increasing the number of Americans with college degrees is a critical national need,” said George Mehaffy, AASCU vice president for academic leadership and change. “Earning a college degree changes the trajectory of an individual’s life, affecting both graduates and their families. But equally important, increasing the number of Americans with degrees improves the economy of the United States, makes us more globally competitive and strengthens our democracy.”