Augsburg University Wins 2017 “To & Through” Award of Excellence

September 12, 2017

By Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager

Augsburg University received the “To & Through” Award of Excellence at NCAN’s 2017 National Conference today in San Diego, CA.

The “To & Through” Award of Excellence recognizes an institution (or department within) that collaborates with an NCAN-member college access or success organization to ensure that the organization’s students – as well as all enrolled underrepresented students – get the supports they need to complete a two-year or four-year degree.

Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN is not part of the National College Access Network, but has a robust and longstanding relationship with neighboring NCAN member College Possible, which nominated the institution for the award. Since the two began working together a dozen years ago, Augsburg has quite literally opened new doors in the college recruitment process for low-income and first-generation students and students of color, enrolling more and more underserved individuals. NCAN Board of Directors Vice President Gloria Nemerowicz presented the award to College Possible Chief Program Officer Traci Kirtley, who accepted on behalf of the university.

Augsburg is not new to the plight of underrepresented students; in 2006, administrators expanded a year-old scholarship for entering students to create the Augsburg Promise Award, a full-ride scholarship for Pell Grant-eligible students who had participated in a college access program and maintained a 3.25 GPA. The award grew to include an admissions outreach program, in which busloads of College Possible students visited the campus, while admissions staff began speaking to students at local high schools and throughout the community.

In 2010, Augsburg became one of the first institutions with a College Possible campus-based “college coach,” who assists incoming freshmen in transitioning to and staying on track in higher education. In 2016, the university embedded more coaches to work with all interested low-income students on campus – not just those who participated in College Possible. Not only has this partnership helped more College Possible students attend Augsburg, it’s introduced more low-income Augsburg students to College Possible – in fact, 70 joined the program in the past year.

The impact is clear: The six-year graduation rate for College Possible students starting at Augsburg skyrocketed from 40.7 percent for the class of 2009 to 68.9 percent for the class of 2012 – the latter of which just completed only its fifth year of enrollment, leaving another year for completion to climb even higher.

Known as Augsburg College until a name change took effect Sept. 1, Augsburg University was founded in Marshall, WI in 1869 before moving to the Twin Cities in 1872, and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It enrolls more than 3,500 students – 35 percent of whom are students of color – who enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to one and an average class size of 16.2. The university’s mission statement reads in part: “The Augsburg experience is supported by an engaged community that is committed to intentional diversity in its life and work.”

As the award-winner, Augsburg University will receive $1,000 to put toward general operating support, scholarships, and/or professional development.

NCAN solicits nominees from its membership for the annual Awards of Excellence in College Access and Success. A committee of NCAN members reviews all nominations, with final decisions confirmed by the NCAN board of directors. NCAN thanks the eight members of the 2017 Awards Committee for their service:

  • Michelle Alejano, Washington College Access Network
  • Janet Cunningham, Citizens for Educational Excellence
  • Linda Jensen, Arizona College Access Network
  • Zenia Henderson, CollegeTracks
  • Nancy Leopold, CollegeTracks
  • Kaitlyn Sanders, Nativity Miguel Coalition
  • Teresa Steinkamp, Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis
  • Ashley Woodous, ACCESS College Foundation

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