ACE announced today that Fayetteville State University (NC) and Newbury College (MA) are the recipients of the 2016 ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation.
The award was created to recognize institutions that have responded to higher education challenges in innovative and creative ways and achieved dramatic changes in a relatively brief period, and includes a $10,000 prize. ACE invited nominations and applications for the award from any U.S. college or university eligible for ACE membership.
The awards were presented at ACE2016, ACE’s 98th Annual Meeting, and were accepted by Fayetteville State University Chancellor James A. Anderson and Newbury College President Joseph L. Chillo on behalf of their respective institutions.
The award is divided into two categories: the first for institutions with student populations of 5,000 and more (Fayetteville State University), and the second for institutions with student populations of up to 5,000 (Newbury College).
“Fayetteville State University and Newbury College serve as excellent examples of the efforts our institutions are undertaking to increase access to higher education and meet the needs of an ever-more diverse student body,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “We appreciate the generous support of Fidelity Investments for this award, which allows us each year to recognize institutions where this type of dramatic transformation has occurred.”
During the 2008 economic recession, Fayetteville State University (FSU) lost nearly 22 percent of its state funding and cut 150 faculty positions. The diminishing state resources presented challenges in a political environment in which the costs and benefits of the University of North Carolina system came under public scrutiny.
In a proactive response to the budget crisis, FSU implemented the Continuous Improvement Report, an innovative tool for rewarding academic departments’ performance on ten metrics related to major components of FSU’s mission. The tool allowed the university to become more efficient in degree productivity, rising from about 15 percent prior to the recession to about 21 percent today. This improvement was coupled with significant improvements in the average cumulative GPA of undergraduates.
“The implementation of the Continuous Improvement Report enabled the university to respond to the economic and political crises that arose from the recession and has established a culture of continuous improvement that provides a basis for Fayetteville State University to thrive in the future,” said Chancellor Anderson. “The campus community better understands the relationship among a) the strategic plan, b) the university business model, and c) the critical need for metrics and outcomes assessment.”
Almost 70 percent of Newbury College’s students are first generation and nearly 60 percent are eligible for Pell grants. Additionally, a number of Newbury students traditionally require additional support in basic math and English. However, faculty were not satisfied with the outcomes of “off the shelf” curricula, so they decided to create their own competency-based instructional models for math and English.
Prior to 2009, approximately 50 percent of students enrolled in basic math courses were performing poorly. Since the implementation of the faculty-designed Math Mastery Program, they have seen a consistent passing rate of over 80 percent of program participants.
The English Mastery curriculum was piloted in 2014 with terrific results. All students in the pilot class passed, and about 90 percent passed with a C+ or higher, compared to only 55 percent in the existing English course. The English Mastery curriculum is now the standard curriculum for all entry-level English classes.
The creation of Newbury College’s Student Success Center, which physically connects tutoring, library services and English and math faculty, is also driving student success in those areas.
“By investing in our students, we are clearly demonstrating the importance of academic success and the opportunity for all students to become college graduates,” said President Chillo.
“Fidelity is honored to present this award with ACE, recognizing exceptional leaders driving innovation in the higher education community,” said Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president, Tax-Exempt Market, Fidelity Investments. “Fayetteville State University and Newbury College have implemented inventive programs that are making their institutions more accessible to students, and we celebrate these academic achievements.”