Forever Green
Campaign for Northwest
Menu & Search
A pair of students study together last fall in Northwest's Student Success Center in the B.D. Owens Library. Northwest is one of five colleges and universities collaborating with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to refine and validate for wider use throughout the country. (Photo by Amanda Wistuba/Northwest Missouri State University)

A pair of students study together last fall in Northwest's Student Success Center in the B.D. Owens Library. Northwest is one of five colleges and universities collaborating with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to refine and validate for wider use throughout the country. (Photo by Amanda Wistuba/Northwest Missouri State University)

Jan. 9, 2020

AASCU awarded $2.5 million grant to enhance student success as Northwest continues collaboration on strategy


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) – with which Northwest Missouri State University partners to refine and validate student success strategies – has been awarded a $2.5 million, two-year grant to accelerate transformation and increase student success outcomes across its membership network of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems.

AASCU is one of only 12 organizations to receive the Intermediaries for Scale grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This award comes in support of AASCU’s emerging student success strategy, which five AASCU institutions are helping to refine and validate for wider use. These institutions — which vary in size, urbanicity and student diversity — include Austin Peay State University (Tenn.); Bowie State University (Md.); California State University, San Bernardino; Lehman College of The City University of New York; and Northwest.

“AASCU has consistently embraced the transformational power of our state colleges and universities,” AASCU President Dr. Mildred García said. “Aligned with our new strategic plan and by harnessing our members’ collective knowledge, this opportunity will support AASCU’s commitment to effectively address the needs of our diverse student populations, particularly low-income, first-generation, students of color and/or working adults.”

With the grant, AASCU will focus on four key goals: increasing awareness of successful and promising transformation strategies among campus leaders and communities; informing key campus-level decisions about change options and strategies and supporting decision-makers; supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting and adapting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice; and building connections across colleges and universities and other supporting organizations to accelerate and streamline learning and sharing of promising practices.

“Not all postsecondary institutions have the resources to begin the structured transformation process necessary to narrow achievement gaps for current and future generations of students,” García said. “Our institutions are transforming students and their families and graduating engaged citizens for our global democratic society. We are honored to have been selected to participate in this important work.”

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning and teaching-centered culture, a commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

Northwest was selected to join AASCU last year on an effort to validate strategies as AASCU launches a Center for Student Success. Allison Hoffmann, Northwest’s director of academic success and retention, leads the project on the University’s behalf.

“Northwest’s mission of ‘focusing on student success – every student, every day’ drives our daily work and is at the core of our culture and ethos, strategic planning and budgeting and overall organizational decision-making,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “With humility, pride and passion, we look forward to continuing national leadership in collaborating with AASCU and our cohort institutions in building a scaled student success strategy for the broader AASCU membership.”

Jasinski added, “As for Northwest, while we have very strong performance across student success metrics, we cannot and must not rest on our laurels. As student demographics shift, such as the large increase in first-generation students in our fall 2019 freshman cohort, we must recognize and address barriers to persistence and completion to close equity gaps and college success disparities.”

Northwest, with its long-standing reputation as a front-runner in student success, leads the state of Missouri in placement with 97 percent of bachelor’s degree earners and 99 percent of master’s degree earners securing a job or continuing their education within six months of graduating. The University places a high emphasis on profession-based learning to help students get a jumpstart on their careers and provide them with opportunities to build their résumés with on-campus experiences in nearly every area of study.

In 2017, Northwest created its own Student Success Center to refocus institutional efforts on transitioning, advising, supporting and connecting students to resources that help maximize their academic potential from orientation to graduation. The new academic success and retention unit, led by Hoffmann, brought together areas of academic advisement and success coaching; academic recovery; academic support, including tutoring and supplemental instruction; new student orientation; first-year experience and retention support.

As a result, Northwest’s fall-to-fall retention increased to 73.24 percent, a 2-percent increase over the previous three-year average. Last fall, one full academic year after the unit’s implementation, the University’s retention increased to a record 77.97 percent, a remarkable 7 percent increase that also ranked in the 99th percentile of national peer institutions. Additionally, the number of students on academic probation and academic suspension at Northwest decreased, while student satisfaction increased among freshmen in every category on the Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction survey.

Furthermore, in October, AASCU honored Northwest with its Excellence and Innovation Award in Student Success and College Completion. The award marked the fourth time in five years, AASCU recognized Northwest with an Excellence and Innovation Award.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704