NAICU, CIC Unveil Website to Support Student Access, Success Efforts at Private Colleges

September 23, 2010

FOR RELEASE: Thursday, Sept. 23           

Project Supports National Goal of Making U.S. First Again in College Completion

[Note to Editors: Quotes from key national policymakers are provided at the end of this release]

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 23, 2010-The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) unveiled a new website ( today designed to highlight and support efforts by nonprofit private colleges and universities to increase the number of at-risk students they enroll, and to boost the retention and graduation rates of various student populations.

The website is the central component of Building Blocks to 2020, a national initiative organized by NAICU and CIC to help the nation meet President Obama's call to make the United States first in college completion by 2020. 

The website provides opportunities for campus professionals working on the front lines of student access, retention, and completion to learn from the experiences of other colleges, and to mine for practices and policies that fit their individual institutional missions and student populations. The website will also serve as an information resource for consumers and policymakers who are interested in what colleges are doing to not only reach out to students from diverse backgrounds, but boost their chances of earning a degree.  The number and diversity of institutions and programs represented on the website will grow, as NAICU continues to gather and post material from colleges and universities.

At the moment, the Building Blocks to 2020 website provides summaries of 535 existing or proposed programs at 250 nonprofit private colleges and universities.  Summaries of programs can be browsed alphabetically by institution, and by state, and are searchable by 34 topics

Up until about 10 years ago, the U.S. led the world in college completion.  However, as the percentage of young adults with degrees has surged in other developed nations, the U.S. now ranks 12th in the percentage of adults 25 to 34 with an associate's degree or higher, according to the College Board

"Nonprofit private colleges are committed to doing their part to make the U.S. first in the world in college completion again, and are redoubling their efforts to increase the number of graduates from all backgrounds," said NAICU President David L. Warren. "Given the productivity of the nonprofit private sector in graduating students - we enroll 19 percent of all students, but award 26 percent of all degrees - our institutions will be a crucial part of helping the nation reach the 2020 goal."

"For any group of students you want to follow-top students in high school, first-generation, low-income, high-income, or minority-nonprofit independent colleges have the best record of graduating students in timely fashion, thereby helping to fulfill President Obama's goal that many more Americans will have high-quality college degrees," said CIC President Richard Ekman.

In the next year, NAICU and CIC will ask all private colleges to report on their progress toward meeting self-identified goals in producing more college graduates; increasing graduation and/or retention rates; increasing success with at-risk students, and/or increasing graduates in areas of national need.  The two associations will issue a milestone report summarizing the sector's progress.  NAICU and CIC will release additional milestone reports periodically.

Quotes from Key National Policymakers

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Chairman - Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

"President Obama has made graduating more Americans from college a national priority, and I applaud NAICU and CIC for their work to make the United States first in the world in college completion by 2020. As we reach toward the president's goal, I will continue to take every step possible to ensure that a college education and the greater skills, higher salary and better employment opportunities that it brings remains within reach of every American student."


Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Ranking Member - Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

"In a rapidly changing global economy, access to a college education is simply not enough. Increasing the competitiveness and prosperity of our workforce requires that our students complete their course of study and cross the finish line to success."


Congressman George Miller (D-CA)
Chairman - House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee

"Especially in this economy, it is clear students need all the resources we can give them to ensure they can complete college and graduate with the skills to compete in a global economy. These types of programs rightfully identify students' needs and supports them at every step along their path toward graduation. I applaud NAICU's efforts to help college students succeed while in school and after graduation."


Congressman John Kline (R-MN)
Ranking Member - House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee

"To keep America competitive, students from all backgrounds need the tools and support to succeed in postsecondary education. I applaud school-based initiatives to promote success among vulnerable populations, including those spearheaded by independent colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education know the students they serve, and they are well equipped to customize programs and services to help their students thrive."

About the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)

NAICU is the premier advocacy association for the nation's private colleges and universities, with a membership of more than 1,000 private colleges and related associations. Member institutions include major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, women's colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions. Nationally, over three million students attend private colleges and universities. For more information, visit

About the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities (CIC)

CIC is an association of more than 600 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that work together to strengthen college and university leadership, sustain high-quality education, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society. To fulfill this mission, CIC provides its members with skills, tools, and knowledge that address aspects of leadership, financial management and performance, academic quality, and institutional visibility. For more information, visit


Tony Pals,
office: (202) 739-0474 cell: (202) 288-9333
Twitter: @naicutweets

Roland King,
office: (202) 739-0475 cell: (202) 380-8172

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