Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rio Featured as National Model for Completion

Rio Salado College is nationally recognized as an institution that can “beat the odds” when it comes to helping students most prone to dropping out of college.

In a new national report published August 29 by HCM Strategists, a Washington, D.C. public policy advocacy firm, Rio Salado is profiled along with more than 30 postsecondary institutions for its efforts to improve college completion rates and prepare students for successful careers.

Beating the Odds: What It Means and Why It’s Important, developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the result of a series of conversations with leaders from 32 postsecondary institutions about what colleges must do to help students – particularly low-income, minority and adult students – successfully earn a degree. Each of the colleges and universities featured in the report is considered a national model for their approaches to boost completion rates.

“The odds of a low-income American completing college haven’t changed in at least 20 years,” said Kristin Conklin, founding partner at HCM Strategists. “Rio Salado College is demonstrating how to beat those odds, ensure student success and help our economy recover. Today these campuses are the exception. The Beating the Odds report provides a blueprint for others to follow and help change the exception to the rule in postsecondary education.”

According to Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante, educators have an obligation to provide students with accessible solutions.

“With tuition rising faster than the rate of inflation and the best paying jobs requiring a college degree, specialized certification or licensure; we have a responsibility to find solutions that lower costs for students,” Bustamante said. “We need to innovate. We need new models of education to leverage public resources through private and public partnerships and increase the capacity to serve non-traditional students through productive and cost efficient means.”

Rio Salado College is one of the largest public online community colleges in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students, and is the largest provider of Adult Basic Education in Arizona.