Lehman College Selected for National Initiative on First-generation and Nontraditional Student Achievement

April 23, 2014 10:26 am President Fernández, Provost, Students

Lehman College has been selected by the American Council on Education (ACE) to participate in the Change and Innovation Lab (CIL), a groundbreaking program to help colleges and universities implement significant and sustainable initiatives to increase the number of first-generation and nontraditional students who gain a college degree. ACE first announced the Change and Innovation Lab (CIL) in January 2014.

Lehman launched the college’s new Fast 4 Business program  this semester as part of the CIL pilot program,  and is offering a bachelors degree in business administration (BBA) to both full-time and part-time nontraditional students committed to completing 30 credit hours per year. The college  was chosen to participate in the pilot program based on its rich history of serving nontraditional learners and its commitment to using technology and data to improve graduation rates.

Lehman is one of nine institutions that will work during the 18-month CIL project to implement concrete steps on their campuses and identify how some of these practices can be applied broadly at colleges and universities across the country. The project is supported by a $400,000 grant from Lumina Foundation.  The CIL has been designed to lead institutions like Lehman through transformational change that is focusing on leadership practices, faculty engagement and innovative uses of data.

ACE is the nation’s most prominent higher education association,  representing the presidents of more than 1700  accredited four-year public and private universities,  community colleges and for-profit institutions. The organization is renowned for its leadership education  programs, including the ACE Fellows program that selectively identifies and trains tomorrow’s emerging leaders.  ACE is also a key advocacy group dealing with federal policy issues critical to  students and the higher education community. In recent years they’ve been at the center of policy debates on Pell Grants, scientific funding and tax proposals.  ACE’s  Center for Education Attainment and Innovation provides services for adult learners and nontraditional students in the United States.

“Many of our students are first-generation, the sons and daughters of immigrants who came to New York City seeking opportunities for their families,” said Ricardo R. Fernández, President of Lehman College. “What used to be the “non-traditional” student – an older student returning to school – is rapidly becoming the “traditional” student at Lehman College. This project will help us evolve – and assist other institutions as they evolve – so all are better prepared in this rapidly changing global economic climate.”

“The institutions that are participating in the Change and Innovation Lab are engaged in meaningful exploration of initiatives aimed at mobilizing higher education to increase student success and attainment nationwide,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “We are grateful to Lumina Foundation for its support of this project, as well as for its continuing focus on improving post-secondary attainment.”

ACE convened the initial meeting of the CIL earlier this month in Washington, attended by campus teams that included each institution’s president or chancellor and chief academic officer. The criteria for selecting CIL institutions was designed to encourage high-access institutions to participate, including colleges and universities that enroll large numbers of Pell Grant recipients, have a history of serving or the capacity to serve post-traditional learners, and are interested in using technology and data to improve attainment rates.

Also participating in the Change and Innovation Lab are Brandman University (CA); Cambridge College (MA); Edinboro University (PA); Georgia Gwinnett College; Graceland University (MO); Hiram College (OH); Mercy College (NY); and Winthrop University (SC).

“Campus leaders engaged in the Change and Innovation Lab are both systematically planning their own transformation efforts, with a focus on change leadership, faculty engagement, and the smart use of data, and helping us to develop templates and promising practices that can be applied more broadly,” said Cathy A. Sandeen, ACE’s vice president for education attainment and innovation. “The work being undertaken here is an important step in achieving the type of transformational change that is needed to reach ambitious national attainment goals.”

“We are very pleased that ACE’s Change and Innovation Lab for higher education leadership teams is underway and look forward to seeing the results,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “We hope CIL can help provide the set of skills and tools leaders need today to close attainment gaps, and we are particularly hopeful that training leadership teams can more fully engage a campus in pursuit of those goals.”