APLU Names FAU 2022 Degree Completion Award Winner

FAU graduate

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Florida Atlantic University the winner of its 2022 Degree Completion Award. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

By lisa metcalf | 11/6/2022

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Florida Atlantic University the winner of 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. This is the first time FAU has been the recipient of this prestigious award, and the second year in a row that the APLU has named FAU a finalist.

“It is an honor to receive the APLU Degree Completion Award,” said FAU President John Kelly. “Our graduation and retention rates skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the efforts of Florida Atlantic’s faculty and staff, who work tirelessly to ensure our students succeed. We are creating waves of change in the lives of our students and delivering on the promise of opportunity for all.” 

When Kelly joined FAU as president in 2014, the university launched a comprehensive plan to address equity gaps, advance student success, and increase the university’s graduation rate. After taking an exhaustive look at student success outcomes, disaggregated across a variety of characteristics, FAU determined that far too many students were lacking adequate support in entry-level courses.

To address this, FAU launched a cross-institutional analytics platform to help inform and track the effectiveness of student success interventions. These reforms included: the adoption of standardized “flight plans,” enabling students to easily see the optimal progression of courses to a degree; addressing course bottlenecks that were preventing students from graduating in a timely manner; and innovative financial assistance incentivizing students to register for the next semester.

The multipronged approach contributed to FAU more than doubling its four-year graduation rate from 19 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2021. Crucially, gains have been largest among historically underserved groups, including black, Latino, and Pell-eligible students. 

“Florida Atlantic University has made critical strides in student success, graduation, and equity,” said Mark Becker, president of APLU. “Congratulations to FAU on winning the 2022 APLU Degree Completion Award. We’re delighted to spotlight their important work so other institutions can learn from their success.”

FAU is one of the nation’s most diverse public research universities. It is the highest-ranked Florida state university by U.S. News and World Report and listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac. It is also the No. 17 bachelor’s degree producer for African American students in the nation by Diverse: Issues in Education, as well as designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.