APLU Names FAU 2022 Degree Completion Award Finalist

grads hugging

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

By lisa metcalf | 10/27/2022

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 Florida Atlantic 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. This is the second year in a row that APLU has named FAU a finalist for this prestigious award.

“I am very proud of the strides we’ve made in improving graduation and retention rates while maintaining our commitment to success for all, regardless of income, race or first-generation status,” said FAU President John Kelly. “It is an honor to be recognized for these efforts, as a two-time finalist for the APLU’s Degree Completion Award.” 

FAU 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. 

“Ensuring students complete a life-changing college education is at the very heart of public research universities’ mission,” said Mark Becker, APLU president. “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.”

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. 

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, which will take place Nov. 6-8 in Denver, Colorado.