Newswise — The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) selected Florida Atlantic University to be one of three finalists for its national Degree Completion Award. A winner will be selected during the APLU’s annual meeting that takes place Nov. 15-17.

FAU more than doubled its four-year graduation rate from 19.3 percent in 2014 to 47.5 percent in 2020. The 28-percentage point increase of the four-year graduation rate is the highest increase over the last six years by any public institution. In the last year alone, the four-year rate jumped 10 percentage points.

“I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in just the last few years,” said FAU President John Kelly. “When I became president, the graduation rate was one of the most daunting challenges I faced. I’ve worked every day since then to instill a sense of urgency, and we achieved much, especially with historically underserved students.”

To improve student success, the university examined the entire university operation and set clearly defined goals to break down organizational barriers so all students could earn their degrees in a timely manner. As a result, FAU increased the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually by more than 950 students.

The development of a team-based analytics approach to solving issues served as a platform for launching several efforts to support student success. The introduction of predictive analytics and advanced data modeling led to targeted policy changes, financial assistance interventions and new degree programs. Today, every student who enters the university is assigned a personal success network made of academic advisors, financial aid counselors and career coaches to support them throughout their four years at the institution.

“We have taken bold steps to get actionable data directly into the hands of those who can make a difference for our students,” said Bret Danilowicz, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at FAU. “Our passionate faculty members and professional staff members have used these tools to change the lives of so many students.”

FAU is one of the nation's most diverse public research universities. It is ranked in the Top 50 for ethnic diversity by U.S. News and World Report and The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, as well as the No. 11 bachelor’s degree producer for African American students in the nation by Diverse Issues in Education. The university also is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

As FAU improved its graduation rates, students from historically marginalized populations, such as those who identify as black/African American or Hispanic/Latinx, and those who are Pell-eligible outpaced the overall student graduation rates at the university.

“We are one of the nation’s most diverse universities, so we are especially proud to have eliminated the equity gaps in four-year graduation rates while simultaneously improving overall graduation rates,” said Kelly.

The APLU established the Degree Completion Award to recognize and reward public universities that are increasing degree completion rates, and total numbers of degrees awarded, while improving educational access, quality, and equity; collect effective campus-based models from public universities for other institutions to adopt and adapt to increase student success at scale; and mobilize all colleges and universities to prioritize institutional change efforts to increase student success and degree completion outcomes.


About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students across six campuses located along the southeast Florida coast. In recent years, the University has doubled its research expenditures and outpaced its peers in student achievement rates. Through the coexistence of access and excellence, FAU embodies an innovative model where traditional achievement gaps vanish. FAU is designated a Hispanic-serving institution, ranked as a top public university by U.S. News & World Report and a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit