National nonprofit Complete College America (CCA) announced today that the University of Hawai’i System is the inaugural recipient of not one, but two, Complete College America President’s Awards. The announcement was made as part of CCA’s 2016 Annual Convening of the Alliance in San Francisco, an event that brought together close to 600 higher education leaders and advocates from around the country.

CCA established the President’s Award to recognize innovation and outstanding contributions to national college completion efforts, especially as it relates to the organization’s five Game Changer strategies. Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, said the award honors “those who demonstrate uncommon leadership and courage – the innovators who have been unwilling to tolerate the shortcomings of the current higher education system and instead endeavor every day to ensure many more students are able to graduate.”

In presenting the award to the University of Hawai’i System, Complete College America highlighted Hawai’i’s STAR program – an internally developed technology solution designed to help students complete their degrees on time. The easy-to-use interface allows students to track their progress toward completion, review degree requirements and milestone courses along their academic pathway, and explore the impact of scheduling decisions and changes in major on the time it will take them to graduate.

The University of Hawai’i System was also recognized for the creation of 15 to Finish, a campaign that encourages students to take 15 credits per semester (30 credits per year) – the only enrollment level that ensures on-time graduation. Since its launch as part of the Hawai’i Graduation Initiative, 15 to Finish campaigns have been implemented by seven states at scale and an additional 120 institutions nationwide. An additional seven states have committed to launching campaigns in 2017.

“The University of Hawai’i system understands that for far too many students, college takes too long, costs too much and graduates too few,” Jones said. “President Lassner and his team have charged forward to address these challenges head on, choosing to lead, not to follow.”

Jones went on to say, “The 15 to Finish and STAR initiatives are a powerful combination, providing students not only with the information, but also the structure necessary to graduate on time. We are grateful for the leadership Hawaii has shown and look forward to the work we will continue to do together.”

“This honor really recognizes the work of many people across UH for over 15 years,” said Lassner. “It has taken persistent vision and focus by administrators, IT specialists, advisors, faculty and students to put us in this national leadership position. Every day we are advancing our homegrown Graduation Pathway System, STAR, in new ways to help more UH students across our statewide system complete college in a timely manner, also saving money for them and their families.”