FIU’s proactive, innovative approach to student success – which has resulted in increased retention and graduation rates – will now be helping to drive change across higher education as part of a new national initiative.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has brought together 130 universities for Powered by the Publics: Scaling Student Success – the largest collaborative effort of its kind. FIU will be working closely with other institutions to identify and adopt evidence-based practices that improve college access for low-income, minority and first generation students, increasing degree attainment and preparing students for the 21st century workforce. In total, the participating institutions serve a diverse population of 3 million students, including 1 million Pell Grants recipients.
“We’re honored to be a part of this important initiative. In this era of exponential change, higher education must work together to ensure learners are successful. Our future depends on it,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.
FIU is one of the nation’s most diverse institutions and has a history serving first-generation and low-income students. More than 50 percent of FIU students receive need-based financial aid. At the same time, FIU is ensuring those students graduate at the same rate as other students. In fact, this year FIU ranked second among public universities in the state on the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) performance funding scores and received $12.5 million in additional funding, including one-time funding of $9.7 million for being ranked number two in performance points. Significant improvements in key areas – including four-year graduation rate, retention and reducing cost to students contributed to FIU’s ranking.
“If our students succeed, our university and greater community succeeds,” said Elizabeth Bejar, FIU senior vice president for academic and student affairs. “That’s why we take a holistic approach and use evidence-based strategies proven to have a positive impact on our diverse student body’s academic success. These strategies include developing a robust professional advising staff program, partnering with faculty to improve pedagogical practices and teaching strategies to improve student learning, implementing a high-tech high-touch mathematics lab to support learning, as well as launching a college life coaching program.”
FIU’s unique characteristics will play an important role in the APLU’s efforts. According to the APLU, a diverse group of universities was chosen to participate in the initiative to help create adaptable student success reforms that can be applied 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.”
Universities will work to refine, implement and scale practices that have been shown to improve student success. FIU will be working as part of the “Urban Cluster” with Cleveland State University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University, University of Colorado Denver, University of Memphis, University of New Orleans, University of South Alabama, University of Toledo, Virginia Commonwealth University and Wayne State University.
All efforts will be overseen by APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which APLU created this year to help drive transformational change across the public higher education sector. The Center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the participating institutions to the broader public higher education community.