Kent State Named Finalist for Degree Completion Award

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has selected Kent State University as one of four finalists for the association’s 2020 Degree Completion Award. The annual award works to identify, recognize and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve degree completion while ensuring educational quality. Joining Kent State as finalists for the award are the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northern Arizona University and California State University, Sacramento.

The annual Degree Completion Award is open to all APLU members. A panel of reviewers examined the applications to determine the finalists. The award winner will be announced at the APLU Annual Meeting, which will be held virtually Nov. 9-11.

“In my fall 2019 presidential inauguration address, I affirmed our commitment as a public university to ensuring every student who enters our doors graduates,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “This pledge has spurred a comprehensive, intentional approach centered on Students First and has led to deep, systematic and institutionalized efforts that have dramatically increased student graduation rates while lessening the time to completion. This drive had led to impressive gains across all student demographics.”

Kent State was named a finalist for the award for the university’s Students First approach to increasing four- and six-year graduation rates. The approach includes a collection of efforts, such as the Got 15? Campaign, which encouraged students to enroll in at least 15 credits per semester; instituting required academic advising; implementing a campus-wide retention task force; and systematic review of, and intervention with, difficult courses (those with high rates of grades D, F and withdraw). 

When Kent State’s award application was submitted to APLU, its six-year graduation rate was 62.6%, a 6.6% increase from 2011 cohort graduation rates, and a four-year graduation rate of 50.8%, a 16.9% increase from 2011 cohort graduation rates. This past September, Kent State’s six-year graduation rate now stands at a record high of 65.6%, a 3 percentage point increase over last year. The six-year rate is considered to be the national standard in comparing four-year degree-granting institutions.

Kent State’s comprehensive approach has more than doubled the four-year graduation rate since the baseline cohort. All groups, including students of color, first-generation students and high financial need students, have increased completion rates. Specifically, the graduation rates of students of color who are first-generation students with high financial needs increased by 127% between the 2011 and 2015 cohorts.

“Public universities have been working hard on an array of multidimensional interventions to increase degree completion,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “California State University, Sacramento, Kent State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have put in place innovative approaches that are helping to ensure more of their students graduate. We’re thrilled to spotlight them as this year’s Degree Completion Award finalists, which have made critical strides in boosting completion and changing more students’ lives.”

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 246 research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.3 billion in university-based research. For more information about APLU, visit

For more information about Kent State, visit

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Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, October 28, 2020 09:02 AM
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 16, 2024 04:39 PM
Emily Vincent