URI named a national finalist for its innovative approaches to improve degree completion rates

Media Contact: Tracey Manni, 401-874-2145 |
Students at commencement
URI Photo/Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I. — September 19, 2019 —Recognizing its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named the University of Rhode Island as one of three finalists for its 2019 Degree Completion Award. The annual award identifies, recognizes, and rewards institutions of higher education that employ innovative approaches to improve degree completion while ensuring educational quality.

The University of Rhode Island was one of five finalists for the award last year.

We’re thrilled to spotlight the University of Rhode Island as an APLU Degree Completion Award finalists,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public universities are the nation’s great engines of upward mobility and the University of Rhode Island is at the leading edge of further expanding college access, equity, and completion.”

At URI, four- and six-year graduation rates increased by 14.5 percent and 8.4 percent, reflecting gains of 38 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The University’s undergraduate degree completions increased by 78 percent representing a cumulative increase of 10,000 degrees awarded in the past decade.

Among students receiving Pell grants, the six-year graduation rate increased from 47 percent to 61 percent, reducing the equity gap from 15 percent to 7 percent. This progress was achieved even as the number of Pell students increased by 76 percent between 2008 and 2013. And, a new financial model implemented at URI helped increase the share of financial aid distributed to students with need, from 77 percent in 2010 to 92 percent in 2016.

According to URI Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes, “Over the past decade, URI has implemented a series of proactive strategies aimed at enriching the student experience and providing a pathway to degree completion, graduation, and student success.”

He pointed to a number of specific strategies, including:

  • A heightened focus on high-impact experiential learning resulted in a doubling (from 4,010 to 8,541) of the number of students participating in credit-bearing experiential learning opportunities.
  • An early-alert advising system identifies at-risk students and provides advisors with resources fostering academic success.
  • A new Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning that engages faculty in new pedagogies, improving student success and academic quality.
  • A winter break J-term semester, providing students who have fallen behind with an opportunity to get back on track.

In addition to URI, the University of Central Florida and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte were named finalists. The award winner will be announced and all finalists will be recognized at the APLU Annual Meeting, November 10-12, in San Diego, California.