Updated 2018 Leah Meyer Austin Selection Process

Achieving the Dream (ATD) is excited to announce an updated selection process for 2018 Leah Meyer Austin Award, the highest honor a college in the ATD Network can earn. The award has been given annually since 2009 to a college that employs a holistic approach to reducing achievement gaps between student groups and increasing success for all. The award recognizes institutional strength, aligned policies and procedures, a student-focused culture, and notable improvements in student outcomes.

ATD has revised the selection process this year to reflect a more mature approach to student success work and results. Colleges are increasingly able to gather, analyze, and present data to inspire change that benefits students. ATD’s partnerships with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) and others allow us to incorporate into the selection criteria nationally-recognized student success metrics. In addition, more Network colleges are using ATD’s Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) to identify their strengths and needs in areas such as equity, teaching and learning, engagement, and communication. The updated selection process acknowledges colleges’ efforts to strengthen institutional capacity in building a student-centered culture.

In the 2018 competition, ATD will invite colleges to apply for the award if they meet two sets of criteria. Network criteria require an eligible college to be designated as a Leader College in good standing and a participant in the ATD Network at least since 2014. An eligible college will not have won the award between 2013 and 2017.
In addition, eligible colleges must meet one of the following four data criteria:

  • Show a four-year improvement in the IPEDS three-year graduation rate of at least three percentage points (first-time full-time students); or
  • Show a four-year improvement in the National Student Clearinghouse three-year graduation rate of at least three percentage points (first time ever in college, degree seeking, first time ever in college students, both fulltime and part-time); or
  • Show a six-year transfer-out bachelor's degree completion rate at or above the national level; or
  • Have been chosen in 2017 as one of the top 150 colleges in the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Network colleges that meet these new criteria will receive an invitation by email in early August to complete an application. The submission deadline is September 30, 2017.  The award winner will be announced on February 23, 2018, during ATD’s annual DREAM institute in Nashville, Tennessee.

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