An initiative designed to encourage the completion and receipt of associate degrees at UW-Green Bay has met with success and been parlayed into improved procedures for current and future degree-seekers.
The University was one of three four-year schools in Wisconsin and 61 total institutions in nine states to participate in Project Win-Win, a two-year program that sought to find students who had earned but never received their associate degrees, as well as those who were within striking distance of earning the award — and then bringing back the latter to finish up. UW-Green Bay awarded a total of 33 Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.S.) degrees during the two-year effort — the bulk of those to students who had earned but never applied for a degree or who had just a few courses to finish. And even though the project officially ended this summer, the increased numbers of A.A.S. degrees conferred — as well as the improved processes employed in pursuing them — remain.
“It was successful,” said Dean of Enrollment Services Mike Stearney. “We identified a number of students and we were able to help them — either give them an associate degree or help them complete an associate degree.
“One of the other good things that came out of this is that we’ve now revised our own internal procedures, so that we would never have a backlog of students like that again.”
UW-Green Bay doubled the number of associate degrees awarded during the program’s first year, going from 10 in 2010-11 to 20 in 2011-12. Thirteen associates degrees were granted in 2012-13, and 10 students have applied to graduate with an AAS degree this December.
UW-Green Bay’s participation in Project Win-Win began in fall 2011, the idea of Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Julia Wallace. The University identified students who would qualify to receive or complete their degree — criteria included number of credits and not being enrolled elsewhere — and contacted each individually. While designed to target A.A.S. degrees — representing a small fraction of UW-Green Bay’s total credentials awarded — the process also resulted in 10 students completing their bachelor’s degrees at the University.
“I thought our involvement in the program was good for UW-Green Bay — I believe it provides that ‘short-term’ incentive that many of our students need to keep them working toward their final degree,” Wallace said. “Earning an A.A.S. degree for our students who have had to stop out of their college progression has been life-altering. And the lessons UW-Green Bay has learned through this process will be beneficial for our current and future students.”
In addition to improving processes to ensure qualified students are identified to receive their degrees, UW-Green Bay also has clarified and pre-identified which courses can be used toward the 12-credit emphasis within a student’s A.A.S. degree. Prior to Project Win-Win, each student would have to have a faculty member approve the 12 credits of emphasis-area coursework. Now, qualifying courses are pre-identified and listed on an AAS planning form that students can use to efficiently map their way to a degree.
“We no longer have to have individual faculty consultation on every single associate degree,” Stearney said. “Another positive about our participation in this program is we truly, I think, did improve institutional policy and practice.”