AASCU honors NKU with inaugural Excellence and Innovation Award

For immediate release…
Thursday – Oct. 2, 2014

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) today announced the inaugural winners in a new awards program honoring member institutions for excellence and innovation in several major areas of campus life and leadership. Northern Kentucky University is one of seven member institutions nationwide to receive the award.

Advances in student success and college completion, regional and economic development, leadership development and diversity, and international education were honored in the new awards. In addition, the winner of the annual Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award also was announced as a component of this new program.

“State colleges and universities have dealt with enormous challenges during the past decade, yet they have remained committed to their missions of student access and success, and regional and economic progress, as well as a dedication to advancing the quality and distinction of their institutions,” said AASCU President Muriel A. Howard. “The innovative and collaborative approaches our members have engaged to successfully address their missions inspired us to create this awards program to foster recognition of their work.”

NKU received the award for regional and economic development. The NKU Center for Applied Informatics Virtual Co-op Program was honored for its success in adapting the traditional co-op education model, offering paid internships to students, into an initiative that provides almost all services virtually. The program now serves more than 120 students per year, and students develop mobile apps, websites, and similar products for more than 200 companies and non-profits, as well as providing services to 50 start-ups.

“Northern Kentucky University is proud to be recognized with an inaugural AASCU excellence and innovation award for regional and economic development,” said NKU President Geoffrey Mearns. “Our Virtual Co-op Program allows us to better serve our students and our region. It provides important experiential learning that complements what our students are studying in the classroom while at the same time offering business solutions to large companies, startups, nonprofits, and other organizations both locally and around the world. To have this important work recognized by the AASCU speaks volumes about NKU’s commitment to a culture of innovation.”

Criteria for the winning entries in the awards competition required evidence of top-level administrative support, connection with an institution’s mission and strategic agenda, evidence the initiative contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming, and evidence the initiative was grounded in research and incorporated best practices.

Selection panels for each award weighed entries that fit both general criteria and specific additional criteria for each category of achievement. Two awards were given in some categories because of the closeness of finalists’ scores. The awards will be presented October 19 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting (October 19-21) at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Other winners included:

  • Regional and Economic Development Awards. University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Leadership Development and Diversity Award. California State University, Fresno
  • International Education Awards. Kennesaw State University; St. Cloud University
  • Student Success and College Completion Awards. Governors State University (Ill.); California State University, Long Beach.
  • Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. California State University, Fresno; Hunter College, City University of New York.

AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a culture centered on learning and teaching, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

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