Tom Sugar speaking at the 2017 conference

The University of Hawaiʻi, nationally recognized for its graduation initiatives, was one of six state entities that presented at the Complete College America (CCA) 2017 Annual Convening, the preeminent gathering of nationally-renowned architects of college completion efforts. More than 700 higher education leaders and advocates from around the country attended the three-day November conference in New Orleans, the organization’s largest convening to date.

The UH session—Hawaiʻi: Going All In On Game Changers in the Island State—focused on the Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative, 15-to-Finish, STAR GPS, Math Pathways, Corequisite Remediation and Early College. CCA President Tom Sugar says UH has shown a true commitment to student success.

“Everybody is doing pathways these days in higher education but Hawaiʻi is doing it the right way.”

“We consider Hawaiʻi to be one of the leading states, one of the first to implement, what we are calling now Momentum Pathways,” said Sugar during an interview between sessions at the conference.

“Everybody is doing pathways these days in higher education but Hawaiʻi is doing it the right way with built-in components that ensure that students have the momentum they need to succeed. And they are only one of handful states in this first group to do it, again, demonstrating their unique level of commitment,” said Sugar.

Speaking at a podium

Pearl Iboshi, director of the UH Institutional Research and Analysis Office presenting at the 2017 Complete College America annual conference

CCA challenged its members to commit to Momentum Pathways at the 2017 conference, citing research that shows that the best design for a pathway is one that ensures that first year students have momentum in multiple areas. UH also was part of one of the featured panels on Momentum Pathways.

Hawaiʻi’s been doing reform of the remediation system, Hawaiʻi’s been doing alignment of mathematics to programs of study, because not every student needs college algebra or should be in college algebra,” said Sugar.

“Momentum also depends on accomplishing nine credits in your program of study so that what you are experiencing in your first year feels relevant and connected to your dreams. It also contains completing 30 credits over the course of a calendar year and of course, Hawaiʻi was already there with 15 to Finish and so that surges students forward,” Sugar said.

Recognizing innovative contributions to national efforts

CCA honored UH in 2016 with its President’s Award for 15 to Finish, a UH-created campaign that encourages students to take 15 credits per semester to ensure on-time graduation, and the STAR system, technology developed at UH that provides students a clear pathway to graduation. The President’s Award recognizes innovation and outstanding contributions to national college completion efforts.

“The 15 to Finish campaign, that we took nationally, which is changing this country, originated in Hawaiʻi,” said Sugar. “You guys developed the highly respected STAR system, which allows students to, using technology, monitor their progress on their customized degree map, so they know where they are, they know what they have to accomplish, they know the courses they need will be there for them. That is truly remarkable as well, again proving that Hawaiʻi is a national exemplar.”

Established in 2009, CCA is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states and consortia to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. UH has been a member since 2010.

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