News Release from AASCU


Kellee Edmonds


2019 EI Awards Winners

Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) today announced this year’s Excellence and Innovation Award winners. This awards program, now in its sixth year, honors AASCU member institutions for excellence and innovation in several major areas of campus life and leadership: teacher education, civic learning and community engagement, international education, leadership development and diversity, regional and economic development, student success and college completion, and sustainability and sustainable development.

“Each year, I am inspired by how AASCU institutions move the bar to serve their students and advance the economic and cultural development of their communities,” said AASCU President Dr. Mildred García. “These Excellence and Innovation Award winners truly demonstrate how our members serve as Stewards of Place, prioritizing student success and leaving a lasting impact on their regions.”

The winning programs had top-level administrative support, connected with an institution’s mission and strategic agenda, contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming, were grounded in research, and incorporated best practices. The awards will be presented Oct. 27 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting (Oct. 27-29) in Phoenix. The award recipients are as follows:

Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award
California State University, Bakersfield

Created with three rural school districts in 2014 to meet the needs of recruiting and retaining well-prepared teachers with specific expertise in STEM, the Kern Teacher Residency Program (KTRP) pathways provide teacher residents with tuition and a living stipend to complete a yearlong, co-teaching clinical practice. At the end of the spring 2019 semester, the KTRP pathways will have prepared more than 160 teachers across six districts, and approximately 85% of the initial group of teacher residents are still teaching in high-need schools in Kern County.

Civic Learning and Community Engagement Award
California State University, Fresno

After studies found the Central Valley, where Fresno State is located, lacked the “nonprofit muscle” to meet the needs of its growing population, the university founded the Humanics Program to produce the next generation of leaders for the nonprofit sector and the Jan and

Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning to provide broad opportunities for service to the community.  Each year, 80% of Fresno State’s nearly 5,900 graduates stay in the Valley. More than 250 students have earned a certificate through the Humanics Program and up to 3,800 students participate in Richter Center each year.

International Education Award
Columbus State University (Ga.)

At the crux of Columbus State University’s strategic plan (2018-2023), the Global Engagement program is a set of learning, experiential and enrollment outcomes aimed at global learning and citizenship. The holistic program includes development opportunities for students and faculty and awards $220,000 in grants and scholarships per year. Its International Studies Certificate’s learning outcomes on global citizenship are assessed with measurable criteria, and its International Learning Community has 50 classes and 750 students.

Leadership Development and Diversity Award
Oakland University (Mich.)

The OU Leadership Academy, available to all university employees, helps 16 university leaders each year acquire and develop the tools and mindset they need to thrive in their careers. The program includes 360-degree feedback assessment and coaching, allowing participants to reflect on their development. Of the three previous cohorts, 47 participants have completed the program. Ten of those have been promoted within Oakland University and/or assigned to different initiatives on campus. 

Regional and Economic Development Award
State University of New York (SUNY) College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill

The Institute for Rural Vitality at the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill was created in 2016 as an extension of the College’s commitment to serve the public good as stewards of place. Through Institute funding, faculty fellows and student interns fully engage with the community in sustainable economic development and enrichment of regional services, ranging from launching incubator businesses to providing unique intergenerational programming for those living with Alzheimer’s. To date, the Institute has been instrumental in securing over $6 million for community-based economic development projects and has actively recruited a private partner poised to build an $84 million grow center on campus.

Student Success and College Completion Award
Northwest Missouri State University

Following one academic year of full implementation of its integrated student success model—the Academic Success & Retention unit—Northwest Missouri State University increased retention from 73% to 78%, significantly decreased the number of students on academic probation and academic suspension, and increased student satisfaction among freshmen. Undergraduate students, especially first-year students, have benefited from the availability of a first-year professional advisor, success coach, and faculty member serving in a secondary advisor role.

Sustainability and Sustainable Development Award
Comprehensive Project Award: Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University has developed a comprehensive and impactful sustainability program by collaborating across operations, academics and engagement. Results include energy savings of 121,000 kilowatt hours annually, an increase in campus solar electricity generation of  319% in the past five years, a 24% reduction in drive-alone trips by students and a 15% decrease in such trips by employees. Southern Oregon University is the first in the nation to offset 100% of campus water use with Water Restoration Certificates purchased by student government. 

Innovative Projects Award: Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Millersville University recently completed a state-of-the-art zero energy building, the Lombardo Welcome Center, that not only supports the university’s sustainability and carbon neutral goals but also directly funds community sustainability projects. Through a Positive Energy Fund, the building’s energy cost savings are redirected to provide microgrants to faculty, staff and students so they can address the interconnected economic, social and environmental challenges confronting the world. This year, the fund awarded $10,000.


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 historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.

Editor’s Note: Photos are available upon request.