Shepherd University has joined the state’s Momentum Pathways Project, a program that uses proven strategies to improve student success during the first year of college and sustain that momentum to graduation. The group, which represented all of the state’s public higher education institutions, met February 27 along with national experts to discuss strategies that increase student retention and graduation.
Acting Provost Scott Beard represented Shepherd at the event which was hosted by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia, and Complete College America.
The Momentum Pathways Project will focus on 15 to Finish, adviser training, and the use of degree maps. A research-based initiative originally launched in Hawaii, 15 to Finish encourages students to take 15 credit hours per semester or 30 per year, increasing their likelihood of success and ensuring that they graduate on time. Efforts around advisor training and degree maps will simplify the maze of academic courses and student requirements by creating easy to follow academic maps, design support services that increase success for adult learners, and create structured schedules that allow students to balance work, life, and academics.
“Shepherd University is very pleased to partner with Complete College America and the HEPC to develop strategic and guided pathways to advance degree completion,” said President Mary J.C. Hendrix. “Clear access to degree completion leads to a qualified workforce consisting of the next generation of innovators, leaders, and model citizens who will strengthen and diversify the economy of our state and region.”
“The convening of West Virginia’s higher education leaders to launch the Momentum Pathways Project is key to reaching the Commission’s strategic goals of access, success and impact,” said Dr. Paul L. Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “By creating momentum around these pathways, it makes progress possible toward reaching our state’s educational and workforce needs—both now and in the future. I commend the leadership of our state higher education institutions for committing to this important work.”
Since 2012, West Virginia has been working with CCA to increase the number of West Virginians with a certificate or degree beyond a high school diploma. West Virginia has implemented key components of CCA’s strategies with success in recent years, including redesigning developmental education statewide and enrolling more students in 15 or more credit hours per semester. These programs are increasing college student retention rates and promoting timely graduation.