News Release from AASCU


Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665


Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) today announced the inaugural winners in a new awards program honoring member institutions for excellence and innovation in several major areas of campus life and leadership.

Advances in student success and college completion, regional and economic development, leadership development and diversity, and international education were honored in the new awards, given to seven member campuses. In addition, the winner of the annual Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award also was announced as a component of this new program.

“State colleges and universities have dealt with enormous challenges during the past decade, yet they have remained committed to their missions of student access and success, and regional and economic progress, as well as a dedication to advancing the quality and distinction of their institutions,” said AASCU President Muriel A. Howard.  “The innovative and collaborative approaches our members have engaged to successfully address their missions inspired us to create this awards program to foster recognition of their work.”

Selection panels for each award weighed entries that fit both general criteria and specific additional criteria for each category of achievement. Two awards were given in some categories because of the closeness of finalists’ scores. The awards will be presented October 19 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting (October 19-21) at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The winners are:

  • Student Success and College Completion Awards. Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, and California State University, Long Beach. With degree completion a national priority, Governors State University has developed a comprehensive approach for transfer students, the Dual Degree Program, that increases the number of students earning both an associate and a bachelor’s degree. The campus’ partnership with 17 area community colleges provides extensive support to facilitate transfer and completion.

    CSU Long Beach’s Highly Valued Degree initiative combines a wide variety of proven strategies for enhancing student success into a comprehensive approach to institutional transformation, rather than focusing on just one or two strategies for increasing graduation rates. The results of this initiative have been dramatic. In just over a decade, six year first time freshman overall graduation rates have risen from below 40 percent to 60 percent. These gains have reached all ethnic and gender subgroups.

  • Regional and Economic Development Awards. University of Massachusetts Boston and Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. UMass Boston’s Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections program was honored because it is having a national impact on education-to-workforce issues, through its model for involving underrepresented groups (women, students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, and students with disabilities) in high-tech careers.

    Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Applied Informatics Virtual Co-op Program was honored for its success in adapting the traditional co-op education model, offering paid internships to students, into an initiative that provides almost all services virtually. The program now serves more than 120 students per year, and students develop mobile apps, websites, and similar products for more than 200 companies and non-profits, as well as providing services to 50 start-ups.
  • Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. California State University, Fresno and Hunter College, City University of New York. California State University, Fresno Partnership for Exemplary Teachers was recognized for the enhanced learning and improved achievement of K-12 students in California’s central valley, the most economically challenged location in the United States. Participating districts serve as equal partners striving to affect five areas of concern: student learning, educator preparation, professional development, curriculum development, and research inquiry.

    Hunter College was honored for its urban teacher residency program designed to train effective teachers who will remain in the profession. This program between the Hunter College School of Education’s (HCSOE) partnership with New Visions for Public Schools and multiple high schools has developed a model of teacher residency. Students not only spend far greater training time in the classroom from day one, they spend that time in schools who have built the capacity to receive and mentor them. This preparation is then paired with a highly refined induction period—activities in a post-degree support network that aid new teachers as they enter their classroom as teachers of record.

    The award was established in 1987 to honor the first teacher in space, who died in the 1986 Challenger disaster. It recognizes exemplary models of teacher preparation that link professional training to students’ learning outcomes.
  • Leadership Development and Diversity Award. California State University, Fresno won this award for its development of a three-campus initiative (also including California State University, Bakersfield and California State University, Northridge) designed to train a diverse pool of leaders ready to step into higher administrative posts on system campuses. Participants in this Regional Education for Achievement in Leadership program demonstrate increased leadership skills and knowledge of effective practices, and senior leaders on all three campuses are involved in selecting and instructing participants in the year-long program for 30 participants.

  • International Education Awards. Kennesaw State University in Georgia and St. Cloud University in Minnesota. Both these institutions were honored for programs that enhanced curricula, fostered greater opportunity and creativity in integrating international students into campus life, and encouraged more students from underrepresented groups on campus to study at non-traditional international sites. The efforts on both campuses received significant executive-level support and engagement.

Criteria for the winning entries in the awards competition required evidence of top-level administrative support, connection with an institution’s mission and strategic agenda, evidence the initiative contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming, and evidence the initiative was grounded in research and incorporated best practices.


 AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges,universities, and systems whose members share a culture centered on learningand teaching, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and adedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economicprogress and cultural development.