Michaels, J., Nadasen, D., Thornton, G., Rush-Marlowe, R., Frederick, A., Freelove-Kirk, T., and Chadwick, J. (2023). Progress report for APLU’s Powered by Publics. Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Washington, DC.
Please direct any questions to email@example.com.
As public universities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are grappling with the impact it has had on their students. The ripple effects of pandemic learning loss will continue for years to come, as today’s K-12 students begin to arrive on college campuses. But there is a silver lining: public universities proved themselves to be both resilient and adaptable to change. The process of digital transformation in college classrooms, well underway pre-pandemic, has only accelerated. Federal pandemic relief funds aimed at students helped make college more affordable to millions. Student services are even better equipped to care for students’ health and wellbeing when the next pandemic hits.
The Powered by Publics (PxP) network has weathered the pandemic as well and is now in its final year. Originally launched in November 2018, PxP is the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ largest-ever degree completion and equity initiative, designed to help four-year public colleges and universities collaborate to boost degree completion numbers. More than 125 universities and systems from 48 states – collectively serving more than 3 million undergraduates, including 1 million Pell recipients – signed on to the five-year initiative’s ambitious goals of:
- Producing hundreds of thousands more graduates by 2025 with an emphasis on underrepresented minority, low-income, and first-generation students.
- Cutting in half the equity gap by 2025 for underrepresented minority, low-income, and first-generation students while increasing access.
- Sharing key data, learning, and effective practices to drive innovation and transformation across the higher education sector.
These universities began working together in “transformation clusters,” highly engaged peer learning communities focused on addressing key barriers to student persistence and completion. Cross-functional campus teams, appointed by their presidents and chancellors, examined the complex system of determinants that lead to student success, identified institutional barriers, and began testing ideas for improvement. The clusters are highly social, with members nudging each other to make policy and practice changes that lead toward transformation. Together, the 16 clusters1 tackled a range of issues from affordability to student support services to teaching and learning. An equity lens and key data for assessing progress inform all focus areas.
This report documents the progress of PxP as it enters its final year. It contains the results of three years of data collected by APLU directly from institutions. Most importantly, this report provides qualitative examples of progress and innovation occurring within the clusters. The work of transforming a complex system is never straightforward, and APLU hopes that these examples will illuminate our successes and opportunities as well as ongoing challenges.