Degree-completion pledge is signed by President Shonrock

October 3, 2012

Emporia State University is one of nearly 490 four-year public colleges and universities that have pledged to boost college completion by 3.8 million students to help the United States reach a goal of 60 percent of adults possessing a college degree by 2025.

“Student success is the measure by which we as an institution know we are fulfilling our mission,” Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University, said about signing the pledge. “When it comes to students, our goal is simple — recruit, retain, graduate and employ.”

Through Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative, the institutions will increase the number of projected college degrees they award from an estimated 14.6 million to 18.4 million over the next 14 years. Collectively, public colleges and universities currently award just more than 1 million degrees annually.

The participating institutions are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). Their membership represents nearly all the four-year public colleges and universities in the country.

“Historically our four-year public colleges and universities have been about opportunity," said Muriel Howard, president of the AASCU. “Many of our students seek a quality education that offers them the opportunity for upward mobility. That is one of the reasons this commitment is so important. The other reason is that our nation’s future depends on it.”

“There has been significant dialogue lately about the decline of the middle class. Improving degree completion and enhancing earning power is an important component to rebuilding the middle class in this country. Public higher education has a responsibility to be part of the solution, ” she added.

Part of the institutions’ strategy for achieving the growth in degrees is to “make a concerted effort to reach out to former students who have attended our institutions but who have not earned a baccalaureate degree from any institution.”

The institutions signing the commitment also pledge to continue to “constrain per-student educational expenditures while pursuing enhanced educational quality.”

Other portions of the Project Degree Completion commitment pledge support for student access and diversity; efforts to reduce the average “time to degree” for students; and closer partnerships with elementary and secondary schools and community colleges to prepare students to earn four-year degrees, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Not only are commitments from institutions required, they state, but also “a strong, renewed partnership among the states, the federal government, and public colleges and universities.”

Find more on Project Degree Completion on AASCU’s website.

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