Oct. 27, 2022
VCU named as APLU 2022 Degree Completion Award Finalist
The annual award works to identify, recognize and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve degree completion while ensuring educational quality.
Share this story
As part of its ongoing efforts to support public research universities’ efforts to increase degree completion, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Virginia Commonwealth University a finalist for its 2022 Degree Completion Award. The annual award works to identify, recognize and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve degree completion while ensuring educational quality.
The annual Degree Completion Award is open to all APLU members. A panel of outside reviewers examined the applications to determine the finalists. The award winner will be announced at the APLU Annual Meeting, Nov. 6-8 in Denver.
“It’s an honor for VCU to be recognized by APLU as a 2022 Degree Completion Award Finalist,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health. “VCU is both the commonwealth’s university and an ‘uncommon university,’ a place where students from all backgrounds unleash their potential and launch successful careers. VCU is home to one of the country’s most diverse and successful student bodies, and we are committed to the true mission of public education: to create opportunities for all to succeed.”
VCU was recognized for establishing a culture where “student success is everyone’s job.” In working to ensure that success, the university created a multifaceted approach centered on access and equity. VCU elevated its degree completion initiatives to be part of a larger discussion about culture change on campus. This approach has three key drivers: affordability, curricular redesign and faculty engagement.
VCU’s six-year graduation rate for Black students exceeded the university’s overall rate. The university has also nearly eliminated graduation gaps for Latino and low-income students. Starting in 2019, VCU overhauled its fee process to create a more predictable billing structure, thus reducing student anxiety about cost. The university bolstered faculty engagement efforts to improve the experiences of first-generation students and Black and Latino male-identified students.
The award also recognizes VCU’s efforts to reimagine the first-year experience by redesigning academic offerings around students’ interests and needs. This redesign included customization in students’ first-year student success courses and the creation of a Summer Scholars Program, allowing students to begin their academic career in the months prior to the traditional fall semester, which has led to greater student success outcomes.
“Ensuring students complete a life-changing college education is at the very heart of public research universities’ mission,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “Congratulations to this year’s Degree Completion Award finalists. They have made significant strides in student success, particularly among students from underrepresented backgrounds. Their efforts deserve broader attention.”
Other institutions named finalists for the award are Florida Atlantic University, the University of South Alabama and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Subscribe to VCU News
Subscribe to VCU News at newsletter.vcu.edu and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox.