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ITS Director of Academic Technologies Hae Okimoto accepting the WOW award Oct. 13, 2016. Photo: Ellen Wagner

Editor’s note: Story updated Oct. 13, 2016 to include photo.

University of Hawaiʻi System will be recognized by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) for its advanced application of data and digital advising tools to help improve student retention in the state.

The WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) awards program is designed to recognize colleges, universities and organizations that are implementing exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to address challenges in higher education. The UH System will be recognized as one of the three winners of the 2016 WOW awards during the annual WCET October meeting in Minneapolis.

“We are honored to be recognized by WCET, and believe this is a testament to our campuses and technology partners who have helped us make a significant impact on the academic outcomes and lives of UH students,” said Director of Academic Technologies Hae Okimoto.

Over the past four years, UH has transformed its institutional decision-making process by using data to surface timely insights to improve policies and direct student services. The system’s sophisticated use of data has informed system-wide initiatives that have already demonstrated a significant effect on student success.

Institutional partnerships

As a founding institutional partner of the PAR Framework, a division of Hobsons, the system has leveraged its PAR membership to benchmark existing efforts, identify factors that have the biggest impact on student retention, and surface new effective practices to drive student success.

In 2011, UH launched a 15 to Finish campaign as part of the Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative to improve four-year graduation rates across UH campuses. Students were encouraged to take 15 credits per semester to graduate on time. Today, the percentage of first-time freshmen at the system’s four-year campuses taking 15 credits or more has increased from 36.1 to 59.2 percent, and the 15 to Finish campaign has been adopted by 20 other states.

“We are thrilled that an innovative organization like WCET is recognizing one of the PAR founding members for significant accomplishments in improving student success. The team at the University of Hawaiʻi has repeatedly demonstrated its leadership through the practical application of analytics and effective use of technology to help students achieve their goals,” said Beth Davis, general manager of PAR Framework at Hobsons. “We’re learning alongside the University of Hawaiʻi System, as they have pushed our own thinking in the ways that thoughtful data analysis and proactive advising can make a real difference for students.”

Most recently, Honolulu Community College is piloting a program that integrates disparate data sources into Hobsons’ Starfish Early Alert in order to better retain under-represented students in STEM fields.

students jumping happily on the 15 to Finish website

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