Biomedical sciences major Gabby Zahn and medicinal chemistry major Slade McAfee take advantage of the Student Success Center’s quiet atmosphere during the second week of classes as they work together to complete homework.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities received a $2.5 million, two-year Intermediaries for Scale grant from the Gates Foundation to increase student success outcomes at its member universities, including Northwest.

AASCU is a national association of almost 400 colleges and universities dedicated to serving underrepresented populations and research to advance economic progress and cultural development.

Director of Academic Success and Retention Allison Hoffmann leads the project on the University’s behalf.

Hoffmann said the grant aims to scale student success efforts for all member institutions, and this effort is being led by the five cohort institutions, of which Northwest is one.

According to an AASCU news release, there are four key goals associated with the award: increasing awareness of successful strategies among campus communities, informing key campus decision-makers about successful strategies, supporting transformation by providing guidance and resources for making changes in policy and practice and building connections across institutions.

Hoffman said this research and support network will enhance the Student Success Center’s efforts toward academic success and retention by identifying gaps, focusing on areas of potential improvement and developing action plans.

“Data shows a key opportunity is to better serve first-generation, underrepresented and Pell-eligible students,” Hoffmann said in an email. “(The grant) allows Northwest to take a holistic look at policies and processes and refine these to better serve all students and to better serve students with services beyond the first year.”

Hoffmann said this effort can also benefit Northwest as an institution, since a higher level of student success could make the University more competitive among its peers.

“With enhanced focus on student completion performance, Northwest will yield better overall performance as an organization and assist the likes of accreditors, state agencies, and potential funders,” Hoffmann said in an email.

In a University news release, Northwest President John Jasinski said as a cohort institution, he hopes Northwest can benefit other AASCU member institutions with its existing systems for student success.

“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 said in the news release.

Northwest joined AASCU in 2019, which awarded Northwest’s Academic Success and Retention Unit with the Student Success and College Completion award in October.

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