Introducing Models of Excellence

A national recognition program honoring student success

The defining characteristic of institutional excellence in higher education has become student success.

Not long ago, student success was considered to be the student’s responsibility. To the degree it was measured at all, student success was discussed in terms of graduation rate and gainful employment, but even those statistics were rarely reported.

Today, student success is seen by higher ed leaders across the country as the key to their institution’s success. Now, higher ed leadership is being held accountable for student success—by students, parents, publications that rank colleges and, perhaps soon, the federal government.

So college and university leaders are recognizing that striving for institutional excellence requires taking a fresh look at student success. They are seeking better ways to define student success, to assess it and to improve it. And they’re looking to their peers for ideas, solutions and models.

This is why University Business magazine, in partnership with CASHNet, has introduced Models of Excellence. This national recognition program honors colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and inter-departmental initiatives that are bolstering student success.

Improving academic outcomes is just one category that our judges will look at in Models of Excellence. We’ll also recognize programs that consider other aspects of student success, including:

  • Expanding college access
  • Improving retention
  • Financial literacy/responsibility
  • Adjustment to college life
  • Engagement with campus life
  • Boosting graduation rates
  • Career preparation and guidance
  • Life skills attainment

If you have implemented a student success initiative that’s getting results—especially one that involves two or more departments—tell us about it by applying for a Models of Excellence award. Three times a year (in April, August, and December) we’ll honor the best of these initiatives in University Business magazine, giving valuable recognition to leading schools and helping to spread the word about what excellence in higher education really means.

Applications are now being accepted for Spring 2017 recognition.

Apply Now

2016 Summer Honorees

Vital and Expanded Technologies Initiative

California State University, San Bernardino

When the California State system allowed its schools to levy additional fees to fund student success initiatives, leaders at Cal State, San Bernardino went in a novel direction: They set up a venture capital program.

The Vital and Expanded Technologies Initiative—or, VETI—is one of four programs the university launched with the additional revenue. VETI provides competitive grants to colleges and departments to fund technology projects that directly enhance student learning and success.

Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program

Cleveland State University

A college’s outreach to prospective students can seem generic. But special populations require special attention, which is why Cleveland State University’s Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program customizes information sessions and engaged learning experiences for high school students aging out of foster care.


Middle Tennessee State University

Federal regulations prevent Middle Tennessee State University from notifying parents when their kids are having academic trouble.

The regulations say nothing about writing to the students themselves, which the university does in hopes of catching a parent’s eye and sparking a conversation.

“It’s a strategic move to send the letter,” says Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for student success. “Hopefully it creates a moment where the parents and the student can have dialogue about the student’s progress.”

Academic Probation Recovery Program

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students on academic probation not only graduated at lower rates, they were visiting their advisers—the very people who could help them right the ship—less often than their peers did.

The university hit on an innovative way to reverse those trends. Starting two years ago, the university began issuing Academic Recovery Plans for students on academic probation.

Students who don’t meet the plan’s requirements—which include meeting with academic recovery coaches—are prohibited from registering for classes the following year.

MyTransferCredit App

Franklin University

A need for speed drove development of the MyTransferCredit program at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio.

“One of the main things that students want to know upfront is how many of their credits will transfer,” says Scott Booth, executive director for marketing and enrollment. Until a couple of years ago, it could take as many as 20 days during peak enrollment periods to answer this question.

First Year Retention and Student Transition (FYRST) Program

Indiana University Southeast

Oreo cookies and calzones have taught us that the middle is the most important part. The same goes for first-year student percentiles, say leaders at Indiana University Southeast.

“We needed to boost our first-year student interventions,” Jason Meriwether, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs, says thinking back to 2013. Student enrollment and retention figures had incrementally declined.

Mock Interview Week

LDS Business College

What would you do if you were told you didn’t interview well? You would probably try to figure out what, exactly, you could do to make a better impression in order to nail the next interview.

That is exactly what happened with students at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City.

Professionals serving on academic advisory boards told the college’s career services department that students were not presenting themselves and their many accomplishments in the best light.

App Factory

University of Wisconsin–Parkside

You know your new multidisciplinary internship program is going to be a hit when, early on, a graduating intern posts his résumé on and lands a job right away— followed by weeks of hounding by rabid recruiters. He had to change his phone number to get the calls to stop.

What made him such a hot commodity? His experience at the App Factory, a year-round paid internship program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Captains Anchored for Success: A Universitywide Retention Program Enhanced by Technology

Christopher Newport University

Jeannine Leger, director of academic support services at Christopher Newport in Newport News, Virginia, has a concise description of who has a vested interest in college students’ success: “Everybody at the institution.”

That mindset helps to explain the breadth of departments contributing to the university’s decade-long retention program, Captains Anchored for Success.

The University Business Models of Excellence recognition program is made possible by generous sponsorship from CASHNet. Learn more about CASHNet