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WIU Selected for U.S. Department of Education College Completion Toolkit

January 5, 2017

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University is one of 11 colleges and universities from across the United States selected to appear in the U.S. Department of Education's (DOE) College Completion Toolkit, "Promising Practices for Improving Student Degree Attainment." The toolkit features schools that are increasing college completion rates for students on their campuses through promising practices.

"Assistance and Persistence: The Western Illinois Way" is featured in the toolkit, highlighting WIU's programs and resources that contribute to student success. The DOE reached out to President Jack Thomas in October, stating: "Your institution is doing impressive and inspiring work by increasing college completion rates for students most at-risk of not graduating. We are most interested in learning about your work to increase completion rates among students from low-income families, adults, or those from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities."

According to the DOE, many institutions across the nation are stepping up to do the hard work of increasing college completion rates for underrepresented students, including those who work full-time or are parents. This toolkit gathers data-driven student supports from a sample of these institutions as a resource for institutional leaders, the report affirms.

Western's submission highlighted the FYE program, University 100, Building Connections mentor program and programming through Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center and Casa Latina.

"I am proud of the strategies we have in place that provide essential resources and opportunities for our students, many of whom are first-generation college students," Thomas noted. "We must continue this commitment to ensure that future generations of students continue to achieve great things at WIU."

In March 2016, Western Illinois University was identified in the DOE report, "Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need," as outperforming its peer institutions in enrolling and graduating Pell Grant recipients. Western was one of two Illinois public universities recognized within the report.

In 2013, President Obama revealed plans to hold colleges accountable for controlling the cost of higher education and ensuring that students from all backgrounds have access to education and perform in the workforce following graduation.

"Western was ahead of the curve when President Obama discussed his initiatives three years ago," Thomas stated following the release of the March 2016 report.

The full DOE reports can be found at and

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations