Nicholls joins national effort to increase college graduates

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University joined more than 480 public four-year colleges and universities in a national pledge to boost the number of college graduates.

Through Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative, the institutions have committed to awarding 18.4 million degrees over the next 14 years. This will help the nation reach its goal of 60 percent of adults possessing a college degree by 2025.

“Nicholls is pleased to join this nationwide effort and show our solidarity with other universities on this important initiative,” said Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, Nicholls president. “For years, we have been making great progress toward increasing the number of degrees awarded and graduation rates. Nicholls will continue doing its part to achieve this national public higher education goal.”

During the 2011–12 academic year, Nicholls awarded a recording-breaking 1,263 degrees. A recent report also showed that Nicholls increased its six-year statewide graduation rate by nearly 10 percentage points. Of first-time freshmen who enrolled at Nicholls in 2005, 41.88 percent of them graduated from Nicholls or another state institution within six years — the highest graduation rate among Louisiana’s regional universities.

Currently, the nation’s public colleges and universities produce a little more than 1 million degrees annually. Based on this figure, public higher education would produce an estimated 14.6 million graduates from 2012 to 2025. The initiative, however, seeks to raise the total by 3.8 million, resulting in 18.4 million graduates over the 14-year period.

“By signing this commitment, Nicholls is promising to continue working toward reducing the average time it takes a student to graduate and reaching out to re-enroll former students who started but didn’t complete their degrees,” Hulbert said. “Another important aspect of the pledge is its call for a renewed partnership with state and federal government. Critical to the future of higher education is a reversal of the political trends that have left universities with no choice but to raise tuition to make up for the loss of state funding.”

Each year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which have organized the pledge, will release reports showing progress toward the 2025 goal.

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