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U H Mānoa graduates in caps and gowns

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as one of five finalists for its 2017 Project Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize and reward public universities across the country that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion.

The four-year graduation rate at UH Mānoa reached an all-time high after an 84 percent increase from 2010 to 2016. Thirty-two percent of first-time, full time students who started college in fall 2012 earned a bachelor’s degree in four years, a huge increase from 17.5 percent just 6 years earlier.

“This represents a remarkable achievement by our faculty and staff and is due to intentional actions and implementation of a range of strategies, including offering classes, structures and support services, to help students succeed in a timely manner,” said Interim UH Mānoa Chancellor David Lassner. “Itʻs also important to note that graduating on time lessens the financial burden on students and their families.”

The annual Project Degree Completion Award is open to all APLU members. A panel of seven judges reviewed the applications and determined the finalists. The award winner will be announced and all finalists will be recognized at the APLU Annual Meeting, November 12–14, in Washington, D.C. APLU will promote the winning institution’s degree completion efforts among its membership and with external audiences. Additionally, APLU President Peter McPherson will visit the winning campus to meet with university leaders, students and external stakeholders to celebrate the school’s role as a national leader in developing innovation programs to increase retention and graduation.

The other finalists for the 2017 Project Degree Completion are Boise State University, Colorado State University, the University of Texas at Austin and Western Michigan University.

“Entering college and pursuing a degree is more important than ever before,” said McPherson. “But the critical importance of completing a degree is too often overlooked. Raising degree completion rates remains key to achieving our national goal of 60 percent of adult Americans holding a bachelor’s degree by 2025. Meeting that goal will require increasing not only the number of students entering college, but just as important, the number graduating. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the other four 2016 Project Degree Completion Award finalists have made great strides in improving student retention and degree completion—and we’re thrilled to share their experiences so other institutions can replicate their approaches and results.”

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