NAU one of 130 universities to help launch national effort to increase college access, equity, postsecondary attainment

NAU's north campus

Nov. 15, 2018

Northern Arizona University announced this week that it is participating in a massive new effort with 130 public universities and systems to increase college access, close the achievement gap and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), which is organizing the collaborative effort, announced the Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success at its 131st annual conference in New Orleans.

The participating institutions will work within “clusters” of four to 12 institutions as they concurrently implement innovative and effective practices to advance student success on their campuses. Collectively, the institutions enroll 3 million students, including 1 million students who receive Pell Grants.

Powered by Publics represents the largest collaborative effort of its kind. In addition to committing to those goals, participating institutions have pledged to share aggregate data demonstrating their progress to help spur lasting change across the higher education sector.

“NAU is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking effort and eager to share the results of our longstanding commitment to student success with our partner universities, as we work together to identify and expand effective practices,” President Rita Cheng said. “We are not alone in our goals to increase access to higher education and increase the number of college degrees, and this collaborative partnership with APLU and universities around the country will enhance our ability to succeed.”

By design, the participating institutions reflect a wide array of institutional characteristics such as enrollment, student demographics, regional workforce needs and selectivity. The broad diversity of the institutions is intended to help create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms that can be adopted and scaled up across a variety of institution types, including those with limited resources.

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees. That’s what Powered by Publics is all about and why we’re thrilled to work with our member institutions toward such an important national goal.”

The clusters have identified anticipated focus areas for their work. One cluster, for example, expects to work collaboratively to integrate data collection systems across each of their campuses to better monitor student progress and make data-informed decisions. Another cluster expects to tackle financial aid and student financial literacy, while a separate cluster is planning to work to integrate career advising early into a student’s academic journey to both speed students’ path to a degree and better prepare them for the workforce.

View the list of institutions participating in the initiative and the clusters in which they will be working.

The effort will be overseen by APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which the association created this year to help drive transformational change across the public higher education sector. A core value of the center and its participating institutions will be rooted in a commitment to sharing data and innovative, successful practices to help drive progress across the entire sector of public higher education. The center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the participating institutions to the broader public higher education community.

A national advisory council of respected higher education thought leaders will provide a strategic vision and guidance for the center, which will work to build upon and complement existing initiatives around institutional change and student success.

About the APLU

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.