UB and coalition of private colleges launch campaign to help disadvantaged students succeed in school

The University of Bridgeport, as a member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and which is joining the National Association of Independent Colleges (NAICU), announced that it was among a consortium of private schools on Friday that launched a new Web site to highlight and support efforts to increase the number of at-risk students they enroll, and to boost the retention and graduation rates of various student populations.

The site, www.buildingblocks2020.org, is the central component of Building Blocks to 2020, a national initiative organized by NAICU and CIC to help the nation meet President Obama’s call to make the United States first in college completion by 2020.

The site provides opportunities for campus professionals working on the front lines of student access, retention, and completion to learn from the experiences of other colleges, and to mine for practices and policies that fit their individual institutional missions and student populations.

The site will also serve as an information resource for consumers and policymakers who are interested in what colleges are doing to not only reach out to students from diverse backgrounds, but boost their chances of earning a degree. The number and diversity of institutions and programs represented on the website will grow, as NAICU continues to gather and post material from colleges and universities.

“Just ten years ago, the U.S. led the world in college completion. Today, we’ve fallen to 12th in the percentage of adults between 25 and 34 with an associate’s degree or higher, according to the College Board. We can and must reverse the trend,” said UB President Neil Albert Salonen, who is currently chair of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges.

The Building Blocks to 2020 site currently provides summaries of 535 existing or proposed programs at 250 non-profit private colleges and universities, which can be browed alphabetically, by location or by 34 topics.

“Non-profit private colleges are committed to doing their part to make the U.S. first in the world in college completion again, and are redoubling their efforts to increase the number of graduates from all backgrounds,” said NAICU President David L. Warren. “Given the productivity of the nonprofit private sector in graduating students – we enroll 19 percent of all students, but award 26 percent of all degrees – our institutions will be a crucial part of helping the nation reach the 2020 goal.”

In the coming year, NAICU and CIC will ask all private colleges to report on their progress toward meeting self-identified goals in producing more college graduates; increasing graduation and/or retention rates; increasing success with at-risk students, and/or increasing graduates in areas of national need. The two associations will issue a milestone report summarizing the sector’s progress. NAICU and CIC will release additional milestone reports periodically.
Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu