Tuesday, April 23, 2024

APLU names UTSA a 2022 Degree Completion Award finalist for bolstering student success

APLU names UTSA a 2022 Degree Completion Award finalist for bolstering student success

OCTOBER 31, 2022 — The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has named UTSA one of four finalists for the 2022 Degree Completion Award. The annual award identifies, recognizes and rewards institutions that employ innovative approaches to increase degree completion rates while ensuring educational quality.

The award demonstrates UTSA’s continuous efforts to become an exemplary Hispanic thriving institution where students from all backgrounds can excel.

“Academic advisors play an essential role in a student’s college journey, and the strategic adjustments that UTSA has made to its advising services are helping our students thrive academically and minimizing barriers to degree completion,” said Tammy Wyatt, UTSA vice provost for student success. “This university-wide effort has improved the number of students that are staying at UTSA from year to year and ultimately crossing the stage at commencement. We’re excited to build on this progress of supporting all Roadrunners on their unique paths to graduation.”

Using a multi-phased approach, UTSA transformed its academic advising model to better serve students—particularly underrepresented and first-generation students—which in turn improved retention and degree completion rates. This new model had a discernible and positive impact on student success compared to baseline data from 2013: 

  • 41% increase in degrees awarded per year

  • 16% overall increase in first-year student retention, with 11% and 7% increases among Hispanic and Black students, respectively

  • 10% increase in four-year graduation rates, with 11% and 10% increases among students of color and first-generations students, respectively

  • 11% increase in six-year graduation rates, with 8% and 11% increases among Hispanic and Black students, respectively

  • Average time to complete a degree dropped to 4.3 years from 5.3 years

UTSA began restructuring its academic advising services in 2014 to align with data-driven best practices, shifting from a college-based model with little standardization to a centralized model with uniform policies, procedures and communication across the university. The restructuring significantly improved advisor availability and stabilized the caseload of advisors while promoting the development of stronger mentoring relationships between advisors and their students.

Additionally, the university adopted a new student success technology platform with predictive analytics and degree-mapping tools into academic advising’s daily operations. The platform gives advisors a holistic view of each student’s academic progress and their engagement in the university’s learning management system. It also offers insight into their participation in campus activities and services. The data is used in real time to identify students who may need additional support, or who may need to tailor their degree path to better suit their needs. 

UTSA also created specialized advisor positions to proactively support at-risk students through the Resilience and Retention Advising Program, and established the Graduation Help Desk, a virtual one-stop resource designed to help students resolve roadblocks to timely graduation.  


Also named as finalists were Florida Atlantic University, the University of South Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth University.

APLU will announce the winner at its annual meeting on November 6.

Chloe Johnson

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.