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Morgan State University Wins APLU’s 2015 Project Degree Completion Award

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Morgan State University has been named by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) as its 2015 Project Degree Completion Award winner. The award, which is given annually and made possible through the support of the Lumina Foundation, identifies and honors institutions that look for innovative ways to increase retention and graduation rates in order to close student achievement gaps.

Dr. Tiffany Mfume, director of Morgan’s Office of Student Success and Retention, accepted the award on behalf of the University at APLU’s 128th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

“It is a great honor to win such a prestigious award and to be acknowledged as a university for our commitment to student retention and matriculation,” said Dr. Mfume. “Without the leadership and support of Morgan’s administration in pushing a campus-wide culture of change this recognition would not have been possible. We look forward to building upon this success. The best is yet to come.”

As part of the award, Morgan will receive funding to help support and enhance its retention and degree completion initiatives such as the University’s STAR (Student, Technology and Retention) Enterprise program. STAR Enterprise is a program that allows instructors to identify students who are having trouble with coursework and refer them to the Office of Student Success and Retention, where advisors can provide them with the necessary resources to help them achieve success.

The STAR Enterprise program reduces the time advisors would spend working to identify struggling students, freeing them up to spend more time providing them with assistance. It also increases communication between students, faculty and advisors, creating a comprehensive approach to ensuring students have all the information and resources needed to reach their full potential. STAR’s success has meant freshman retention levels increasing by 13-14 percent, higher than at any time in two decades, meaning more students returning for their second and third years of college.

“This is very important and we don’t take this lightly,” says Dr. David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “It means that more of our students are returning for their critical second and third years of college. It means that what Morgan has been doing to help these students is having an impact. It is not enough to simply get young people to enter college, we must ensure that they graduate. If we can bring students back for their second and third years, they are more likely to be successful.”

The Project Degree Completion Award is designed to serve as a vehicle for sharing innovative best practices between public universities, encouraging them to draw from each other’s successes. The program, from which the award gets its name – Project Degree Completion – is a joint initiative between APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Through this initiative nearly 500 public colleges and universities have pledged to collectively award 3.8 million more bachelor’s degrees between 2012 and 2025.

After a thorough interview and review process, an independent panel of seven judges determined Morgan State the 2015 winner.  Other finalists for the 2015 Project Degree Completion Award included: Middle Tennessee State University, the University at Buffalo, the University of South Florida, and The University of Texas at El Paso.

Congratulations to Morgan State University on a job well done and for being an example for other public institutions of higher education worldwide.

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