Commonwealth University Receives Funding for Transfer Initiative from National Organization

MANSFIELD, Pa. – Commonwealth University was selected as one of nine recipients nationwide for a catalyst grant in the first round of funded projects by the National Association of System Heads (NASH). Commonwealth University’s Transfer Team developed an “Earn What you have Earned” initiative which undertook a transcript audit of all transfer students to ensure they were awarded credit they had earned through the application of the newly revised PASSHE Student Transfer Policy.

The NASH Catalyst grant will be utilized to create broader engagement leading to increased equitable practices and outcomes for transfer students by scaling a system-wide sharing initiative by providing professional development opportunities to teams across the system.  

The NASH NIC is utilizing improvement science to accomplish three goals: 1) Increasing the number of transfer students who complete degrees; 2) Increasing curricular flexibility with flexible pathways, credentials, and shared degrees; 3) Closing equity gaps through student success interventions. Science improvement encourages a focused approach to defining and implements a set of small measurable actions developed to test change ideas in a clearly defined time frame. Utilizing a PDSA (plan, do, study, act) each cycle is followed up by a decision to adopt, adapt, or abandon the change.  

Commonwealth University, having been selected by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to participate in the NASH Improvement Community, audited all current transfer students applying the recently updated and student-friendly PASSHE transfer policy.  

Through the application of the PASSHE Student Transfer policy 456 students were able to receive a total of 2,414 additional transfer credits. This average of 5.3 credit per student made it possible for some of these students to graduate a semester earlier. These changes positioned a number of students to graduate earlier than previously anticipated, reducing their total cost of attendance by shortening time to degree completion. 

“One of the major barriers to degree completion for a student who transfers to a new school is the transfer of credit hours,” said Dr. Bashar W. Hanna, Commonwealth University president. “Our transfer team has established procedures to audit transcripts and make completing a degree reachable in a shorter time frame. Being able to share this process with other institutions benefits all students.” 

The Commonwealth University Transfer Team is led by Kara Shultz (vice provost of undergraduate education and dean of the honors college) and includes Anne Broyan (assistant registrar), Maramonne Houseknecht (associate director of admissions), Amy Smith (admissions), Emmy Borst (executive director of student success), Tom Fletcher (special assistant to the president), Mary Jo Campana (director of credit for prior learning); Nicole Keller (senior director of enrollment marketing); Todd Hoover (Chairperson of Early Childhood Education);and Jennifer Hunsinger (director of student success, learning communities, and second year experiences).