Rutgers University–Newark announced it is one of 16 institutions that will receive additional investment and support to advance student-centered transformation through the Powered by Publics initiative of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The cohort will engage in an in-depth institutional needs assessment, share student success data, and receive targeted professional development and technical assistance based on needs in advising, college readiness policy and practice, and digital learning. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the effort. Each institution will begin to work in March 2021 and continue through July 2022 and will receive a $15,000 stipend to cover expenses related to participation.

“This is a great opportunity to ensure that Rutgers-Newark remains a leader in promoting strong and equitable outcomes for our students,” said John Gunkel, vice chancellor for academic programs and strategic partnerships. “We look forward to working with our colleagues at the APLU and other member institutions to share information and insights that will enable us all to serve our students better.”

Gunkel cited several existing platforms at Rutgers-Newark that promote student success. “We have implemented a streamlined early-alert system that allows professors to send progress reports about coursework concerns to students and academic advisors. The system also enables coordinated communication between the Office of Financial Aid and advising offices regarding students' academic eligibility for aid.” Moreover, a new mobile app allows students to make appointments for tutoring, advising, and library/research support; respond to quick polls about their needs for technology or access to wellness resources such as the food pantry; and connect with study partners. “The technology infrastructure provided by these software tools made the transition to remote advising, tutoring, and other academic support services relatively seamless and has created a strong foundation to increase student success moving forward,” Gunkel noted.

“We’re very pleased to provide the opportunity to 16 Powered by Publics institutions to receive additional resources to enhance advising, support college readiness, and improve digital learning,” said Julia Michaels, associate vice president and executive director of APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation. “Powered by Publics institutions are laser-focused on collaborating to advance equity, increase degree completion, and share key data and lessons. The 16 institutions participating in this cohort will serve as a model that other universities can draw from as they seek to strengthen their work in this space.”

APLU's Powered by Publics initiative has convened nearly 125 change-ready institutions and state systems within 14 “transformation clusters” – reaching three million undergraduate students, including one million Pell Grant recipients. Each cluster is focused on solving different pieces of the student success puzzle as public universities work together to tear down long-standing barriers, eliminate the achievement gap, prepare students to thrive in the 21st century workforce, and collectively increase the number of degrees they award. The clusters are advancing collaborative work in thematic areas of affordability, holistic student supports, and teaching and learning, with equity and data as integral, cross-cutting components.

The other institutions selected for the effort are: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Clemson University; Illinois State University; Ohio University; Middle Tennessee State University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; University of New Orleans; New Jersey Institute of Technology; University of South Alabama; Texas Tech University; Tuskegee University; Virginia Commonwealth University; Western Michigan University; University of Wyoming.