Inver Hills Receives Innovative Student Affairs Program Award

Accelerate to Graduate Program recognized by Minnesota State

The Accelerate to Graduate Program at Inver Hills Community College was recognized with the 2018–2019 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Academic and Student Affairs Award for Innovative Student Affairs Program. Wendy Robinson, PhD, vice president of student affairs, and Kari Rusch-Curl, dean of student success and retention, represented Inver Hills at the awards dinner during the Minnesota State Fall Academic and Student Affairs Leadership Conference at Breezy Point Resort October 23–25, 2019.

Also present from Inver Hills were a number of administrators, including Interim President Michael Berndt and Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion Michael Birchard.

Vice President Robinson reported that she and her team are pleased to be honored by the Minnesota State system.

“Accelerate to Graduate is a program that we have been developing since 2017,” Wendy said. “The program is an effort to promote student retention and success by encouraging students to increase their momentum toward degree completion, either by adding an additional course to their schedule or by taking summer classes. The ultimate goal is to see more students meet their own educational goals in a shorter time frame.”

Wendy added that Accelerate to Graduate is well researched and evidence based. “We are confident that students who attempt more credits are likely to succeed academically,” she said. “Accelerate to Graduate uses a variety of strategies to encourage students to consider increasing their credit load if they are below 15 credits per semester.”

Kari Rusch-Curl and Wendy Robinson
Kari Rusch-Curl and Wendy Robinson
Ron Anderson, Paul Shepherd, Kari Rusch-Curl, Wendy Robinson, Jay Cowles, Devinder Malhotra, Clyde Wilson Pickett
Ron Anderson, Paul Shepherd, Kari Rusch-Curl, Wendy Robinson, Jay Cowles, Devinder Malhotra, Clyde Wilson Pickett
Michael Birchard, Wendy Robinson, Kari Rusch-Curl, Michael Berndt
Michael Birchard, Wendy Robinson, Kari Rusch-Curl, Michael Berndt

More from Vice President Robinson on Accelerate to Graduate (ATG)

Why ATG?

Like students at many community colleges, most of our students attend classes part-time. Unfortunately, simply put: The fewer credits a student takes each semester, the less likely they are to graduate. This is supported both in national data (looking at all institutional types) and in our own internal data. The closer a student is to 15 credits per semester, the more likely they are to remain in school and graduate.

ATG is not mandatory or a directive—no student will be forced to take on additional credits if they don’t have the time, funding or capacity to manage the workload. Our goal with ATG is to give students an understanding of why credit intensity matters.

We wish to encourage students to think about how to shift their lives to allow them to take more credits. We want to make sure students are aware of financial aid and other resources that are available to them when they attempt more credits.

How is ATG working?

Since we started the program, we have seen a 4 percent increase in students who are attending full-time along with an increase in the average number of credit hours attempted by full-time students. We’ve also seen strong enrollment for summer-term classes, and we are doing more to communicate to students about financial aid options for summer term, which means students aren’t leaving financial aid money on the table.

What we want students to know about ATG:

Inver Hills is welcoming to all students, whether they are taking one course or six courses per semester. We want to empower students to take charge of their education by putting together an academic plan that works for them. So we encourage all students to work with an academic advisor or counselor to map out their path to a degree—ideally a path that includes summer classes and a shorter time to graduation and transfer.

Innovative Student Affairs Program Award

Innovative programs are those that use new ideas, methods, or techniques that result in improved educational or developmental activities, services, or management for a college or university community. These programs or activities must have been in operation for at least two years.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate nominations:
  • Demonstrate financial creativity or cost effectiveness
  • Encourage diverse and/or multiple subgroups to participate
  • Be adaptable to other institutions
  • Address a demonstrable need on campus
  • Contain an evaluation component
  • Involve collaboration with other college or university departments
  • Enhance student learning or development
— Courtesy of Minnesota State
Learn more about Accelerate to Graduate at Inver Hills by contacting:

Wendy Robinson, PhD
Vice President of Student Affairs

Kari Rusch-Curl
Dean of Student Success and Retention

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *