Celebrating Community College Innovation With Innovation of the Year Awards

League for Innovation
Innovation Showcase

Established over thirty years ago to recognize significant community college innovations, the League’s Innovation of the Year awards are designed to honor faculty, staff, and administrators at member institutions who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies, and activities that improve the college’s ability to serve students and the community.

The following descriptions of four 2015 award-winning innovations reflect the diversity of programs and projects honored last year, which range from improving student success and promoting sustainable education to fighting hunger and advancing medical technology.

Click here to learn how your college can participate in the 2016 Innovation of the Year awards. Submissions are due by April 18, 2016.

Veterans Early Alert System, Monroe Community College – SUNY (New York)

The Veterans Early Alert System was created and implemented to assist 800+ veteran/military students to achieve academic success and maintain VA benefits. Faculty completed an online survey twice a semester; feedback was used to inform students and connect them with individualized targeted support services, including counseling, accommodations for a disability, Blackboard online support, weekly group study skills and test-taking strategy workshops, and Go VETS: Veterans Educational Tutoring Services. The process is fully automated, uses existing software and campus resources, and can be easily replicated. Data shows an extremely high faculty response rate and a significant impact on student GPAs, retention, and completion. During this first year of the program, there was a 13.4 percent increase in overall GPAs and no veteran/military student completely withdrew from college in either semester.

Ready-Set-Transfer, Seattle Colleges (Washington)

The NSF-funded project—Ready-Set-Transfer (RST)—created academies to support STEM or aspiring STEM students. “Ready” students are early in their STEM studies, including students in pre-college math. “Set” students are on track for a STEM major, and “transfer” students are completing 200-level STEM courses in their chosen field, and doing undergraduate research coursework as well as subsidized capstone projects (i.e., undergraduate research, design/build, student leadership, service learning). Through faculty mentoring, and with scholarship support through a second NSF grant, guidance is tailored to the needs of each level of students in the academies. Career paths are mapped through a STEM speaker series inviting working scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, and educators to describe their personal experiences and career paths, and intrusive advising. A major goal of the RST project is to increase the number of students who graduate and/or transfer to a university in a STEM field.

Art, Equity and Inclusion: Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College (California)

Art, Equity, and Inclusion activities at De Anza College include the Art & Social Justice Institute and collaborative De Anza student projects. These innovations place students from targeted groups at the center of museum programming and create a year-round creative home for student expression, empowerment, and connection. Institute and collaborative project themes tie to curriculum across subject areas, enhance college instruction, and help expand multicultural pedagogical approaches to student retention and engagement. Outreach to underrepresented students and mentoring are at the center of programming. These initiatives reach hundreds of students in a highly efficient manner, increasing awareness of and participation in the arts through a social justice lens. Partnering with other divisions and departments in creative ways builds positive relationships and synergy across campus. Expanding opportunities for creative expression and recognition helps to build a sense of community.

University of Texas-Tyler/Houston Community College: Engineering the Future, Houston Community College System (Texas)

Houston Community College created a unique engineering partnership with the University of Texas at Tyler’s Houston Engineering Center: An innovative, four-year engineering degree located on the HCC Alief-Hayes Road campus. Through this program, seamlessly aligned with the UTT curriculum and ABET accredited, students have an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree mechanical, electrical or civil engineering, affordable at less than $19,000 for a four-year degree (in-district tuition). Designed to reach out to the underserved and diverse community, this partnership specifically supports the local, national, and worldwide demand for highly skilled workers in the engineering disciplines. The ASES degree is approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.