North Carolina Central University Joins National Higher-Education Re-Imagining Initiative

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Three-Year Project Aims to Create Sustainable Change in Student Success

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has been selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to participate in the three-year Re-Imagining the First Year of College (RFY) project, a comprehensive initiative aimed at transforming the first year of college to enhance students’ success in their undergraduate years and in the 21st century workplace.

The RFY project assists 43 participating colleges and universities, including NCCU, in implementing changes that enhance the first-year student experience and increase student retention and graduation rates, particularly among historically underserved populations. NCCU representatives will attend national conferences and educational webinars, receive one-on-one mentoring, access online tools and resources, and share ideas, successful strategies and lessons learned with other participating colleges and universities.

“North Carolina Central University’s selection as one of the 43 institutions in the Re-Imagining the First Year of College program is an honor,” said Chancellor Debra Saunders-White. “Our inclusion recognizes our leadership and achievements in increasing student enrollment, outperforming all UNC schools in 2015-16, and growing our rate of retention from 69.9 percent to 80 percent in just two years. We look forward to our first-year college professionals’ continued exposure to best practices that will impact NCCU student engagement and four-year completion rate,” she added.

NCCU has a number of additional programs that support student success and academic attainment.

On Move-In Day each fall, the university welcomes first-time college students and incoming transfer students with a series of academic and social programs organized by the NCCU divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Known as Eagle Mania, the programs help smooth the transition for students by educating them about NCCU and the City of Durham.

Beginning in Fall 2016, the Chancellor’s Cycle of Success scholarships will recognize as well as reward new first-time entering undergraduate students who have exemplified academic excellence. The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid award these scholarships based on entering students cumulative GPA and ACT or SAT (verbal and math) test scores. The awardees include freshmen scoring 1050 or better on the SAT, entering with a 3.2 or higher high-school GPA, or 23 and higher on the ACT.

The NCCU Finish Line Initiative is another program offering academic support for student to strengthen graduation rates. The program is an essential element of the University of North Carolina’s efforts to boost graduation statistics, providing funding that allows students attend the university for an additional semester beyond their intended graduation date. The Finish Line, implemented in 2015, is a partnership between the NCCU Division of Enrollment Management, Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, and the Division of Institutional Advancement.

“With the new initiative, Re-Imagining the First Year of College project, NCCU is poised to experience a significant influence on student academic attainment levels,” said Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye, NCCU provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The support our university will receive throughout this program will benefit our students for years to come."

As part of AASCU’s Re-Imagining project, NCCU will implement evidence-based strategies focusing on four core areas: institutional intentionality, curriculum, faculty and staff roles, and student roles.

“We are pleased that these AASCU institutions will commit their enormous talent and knowledge to the success of this initiative, which I believe will have a profound effect on undergraduate education in the 21st century,” said George Mehaffy, vice president for academic leadership and change at AASCU. “The state colleges and universities we selected for RFY represent a broad swath of the institutional landscape and exhibit strong leadership and other qualities that are conducive to effecting broad-scale and sustainable change. Together, with the engagement of all campus stakeholders – from students to academic leadership – we will strive to transform the first-year student experience and ensure student success.”

AASCU will kick off the initiative by inviting academic leaders to attend the association’s 2016 Academic Affairs Winter Meeting in Austin, Texas, Feb. 4-6, 2016. The RFY project is being funded by generous grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds.

About AASCU:
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

About NCCU:
North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Flagship programs include the sciences, technology, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education. Our alumni excel in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. Visit


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