ATD Re-Designates DACC as Leader College

Silver Spring, MD – Achieving the Dream (ATD) re-designated Doña Ana Community College (DACC) as a “Leader College,” a national honor awarded to institutions in the ATD National Network that have shown three years of steady improvement in two outcomes that measure student success.

“Leader College status represents a sustained, successful effort to build a student-centered culture,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges that stay focused on the hard work of transformation deserve to be recognized when they make measurable progress.”

“Our students need to be assured that we are focused on continually improving,” DACC President Dr. Renay Scott said. “Working with ATD, we have access to resources and guidance from policy and other experts that keep us focused on student success and best practices that have proven successful.”

In the re-designation as a Leader College, DACC has demonstrated progress by developing and implementing a number of initiatives across the college.

  1. Focusing on new practices and strategies for helping students enter and successfully complete critical first year courses in a timely fashion.
  2. Focusing on improving retention, transfer, and award rates by more clearly articulating degree pathways, piloting academic block scheduling at several campuses, and establishing a program review process.
  3. Achieving changes in new, mandatory student orientations, dedicated student registration and mid-term calling campaigns by faculty and staff, and the institutionalization of the Quick Connect early intervention process.
  4. Repurposing a former career success group into a more comprehensive Center for Career and Student Success to assist students in realizing their full potential by connecting them to a support network that allows them to overcome financial and personal barriers to stay in school, and find a career.

DACC will continue to develop and refine practices and strategies that support student success. The DACC strategic plan will offer clarity and focus for those efforts.

Leader Colleges are eligible to compete for all grant-funded learning initiatives offered by ATD and are encouraged to provide leadership and support to other colleges in the ATD network, disseminate lessons learned, support state and national efforts to advance the student success agenda, and continue to improve student outcomes. Leader Colleges also have been winners of ATD’s annual Leah Meyer Austin award, a $25,000 prize for an ATD institution that takes whole-college approaches to improving student success and achieves notable increases in student outcomes.

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.  This year, Achieving the Dream designated four institutions as Leader Colleges for the first time and recertified 17 Leader Colleges.

Doña Ana Community College was established in 1973 at the request of the Gadsden, Hatch and Las Cruces school boards to provide vocational and technical education opportunities to the citizens of Doña Ana County. DACC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has been re-designated as a Leader College by Achieving the Dream. The college offers instruction leading to associate degrees and technical certificates and preparation for further academic work. Community education and adult education are also offered.

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, Achieving the Dream today leads a student success network made up of over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.