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OSU partners with Northern Oklahoma College to boost completion rates for underrepresented students

STILLWATER, Oklahoma– Oklahoma State University has partnered with Northern Oklahoma College and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in an initiative aimed at increasing transfer rates for minority, first-generation and adult students.

Funded by ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group, the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI) will award up to $27,500 to partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions to advance and align transfer pathways to increase transfer and completion rates for underrepresented student populations.

The initiative, led by the AACC, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), includes 16 partnerships from 13 states involving 17 community colleges and 19 universities.

Cheryl Kleeman, director of the OSU Transfer and Student Veteran Success office, said the initiative presented two important opportunities for OSU: The ability to serve a largely marginalized population of students and the opportunity to strengthen its partnership with NOC.

“We had already been working on ways to better support transfer students between our two institutions, and the ETI was a natural progression,” Kleeman said. “The ETI also aligns with one of OSU’s highest priorities to promote a more diverse and inclusive environment. The ETI gives us the ability to build seamless pathways into OSU for underrepresented transfer students, which will lead them to high-demand careers.”

“NOC values its partnership with OSU and is thankful for the opportunity through the Equity in Partnership grant to strengthen that relationship even further in assisting more students with smooth transfers,” said Dr. Pamela Stinson, NOC vice president for academic affairs. “The application deadline for the grant required a quick turnaround, but the institutional research offices and other leads on both campuses worked hard and quickly to provide the necessary data and narrative to support how readily our institutions could build on the existing partnership.”

The ETI aims to serve 6,000 students over the two-year project period. Each team must place at least 100 students on one of five identified transfer pathways by the end of the first year and a total of 300 or more by the end of the second year.

AACC President and CEO Walter G. Bumphus said he is delighted to see the project come to fruition.

“As a part of AACC’s Unfinished Business initiative, it is vitally important for community colleges to close the equity and achievement gaps,” he said. “The Equity Transfer Initiative is designed to focus on new and evidence-based equity strategies that will ensure the successful completion of degrees that lead to family-sustaining wages.”

Participants will receive transfer coaching support to advance work plans that include:

An assessment of the current and/or newly proposed relationship between two-year and four-year institutions to identify obstacles and develop response strategies that lead to a strong transfer relationship.

A review of current and/or new transfer pathways through an equity lens, specifically identifying evidence-based equity strategies or new innovative equity strategies that allow students to matriculate without losing credits or increasing the time to earn a degree.

Partnerships/consortia will also have access to technical assistance provided by subject matter experts, participate in convenings to teach and learn from each other, and inform the development of train-the-trainer tools that colleges can use to strengthen their transfer pathways.

Additionally, participants will focus on strengthening student support services and ensuring that culturally competent counseling and other interventions are considered viable ways to serve these students.

“As an African-American and first-generation college student, equity in transfer is personal for me,” said Angel M. Royal, AACC’s chief of staff. “It is not lost on me that I could have easily been a part of statistics that show the increasing equity gaps in transfer rates for underrepresented students. In order to address these barriers to success, we must face it head on and implement strategies like the ETI that allow colleges to reframe their transfer strategies and truly move the needle in the right direction.”

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