South Texas College Receives National Award

STC receives national recognition and $25,000 cash award for improving college-readiness and completion rates, for its Hispanic students; Community College of Baltimore County receives special recognition and $10,000 for its Accelerated Learning Programs

ANAHEIM, CA (February 5, 2013) – Achieving the Dream, with the support of The Kresge Foundation, this evening announced South Texas College (STC) as the winner of the fifth annual Leah Meyer Austin Award. Along with this prestigious recognition, the college will receive $25,000 to support its ongoing student success work. As this year’s award-winner, STC is being honored for demonstrating systemic institutional changes that have resulted in a noteworthy increase in student success.

Through the implementation of Achieving the Dream’s Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement, South Texas College has been able to:

  • raise its three-year graduation rate
  • expand its dual enrollment program
  • improve college-readiness of incoming students
  • increase completion rates in developmental and gateway courses

Part of South Texas College’s success can be attributed to its shift in emphasis from simply access, to a dual focus on access and success. Since joining Achieving the Dream in 2004, data-informed decision-making, broad engagement, and systemic improvement have become components of the college’s identity.

Dr. Shirley Reed, STC’s founding and current president, has provided far-reaching vision and aggressive leadership for the college, the state of Texas, and the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network.

“Students come to South Texas College with hopes and dreams and it is our collective responsibility to facilitate their success. It has always been my philosophy to encourage input from faculty and staff in the decision-making process, especially when it comes to developing strategies for improving student success,” said Dr. Reed. “I want broad-based participation because I find it leads to better decision-making and greater acceptance of institutional decisions.”

STC has created pathways to success for its students, many of whom are the first generation in their families to attend college. This achievement has been accomplished during a time of increased enrollment and economic challenges. The college serves two counties along the U.S.-Mexico border in a region recognized as one of the fastest-growing in the country. More than 90% of its approximately 30,000 students are Hispanic, and most of its student body is low- income, with 74% of students receiving financial aid. Nearly 40% of the region’s residents over age 25 have neither completed high school nor attained a GED.

“South Texas College’s comprehensive student success work and collaborative efforts within the community has garnered impressive results,” said Achieving the Dream President and CEO William Trueheart. “The Leah Meyer Austin Award is our way of recognizing these outstanding achievements and applauding STC’s work in increasing graduation rates, high school-to-college matriculation, and college success as a shining example for the entire reform network.”

The Leah Meyer Austin Award, sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, recognizes outstanding institutional achievement in creating excellence and equity through: 1) committed leadership; 2) use of evidence to improve policies, programs, and services; 3) broad engagement; and 4) systemic institutional improvement.

Leah Meyer Austin is the former Senior Vice President for Program Development and Organizational Learning at the Lumina Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Achieving the Dream. Austin’s visionary leadership shaped the development of Achieving the Dream.

Achieving the Dream also gave Special Recognition to the Community College of Baltimore County for its programs that accelerate students through developmental courses, and into and through gateway courses. The college received $10,000 to use toward student success programs and initiatives.

Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With nearly 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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