The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) again selected Fresno State for a national Excellence and Innovation Award, citing the University’s accomplishments as part of the California State University Graduation Initiative 2025.

Fresno State won AASCU’s Student Success and College Completion Award for its Graduation Initiative 2025 strategy that has already begun to close equity gaps between underserved students and their peers, to improve graduation rates and to help students meet personal academic goals.

The awards were presented Sunday (Oct. 22) at the opening session of AASCU’s annual meeting in La Jolla where Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro accepted the award with CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.

In the three years the AASCU has been recognizing member institutions, this award marks Fresno State’s fourth honor. In 2015, the University won the International Education Award for its work to expand international recruitment of faculty and students and to increase study abroad opportunities. And in 2014, the University won two AASCU awards: the Leadership Development and Diversity Award and the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award.

The AASCU awards recognize excellence and innovation in seven major areas of campus life and leadership: teacher education; civic learning and community engagement; international education; leadership development and diversity; regional and economic development; student success and college completion; and sustainability and sustainable development.

Criteria for the winning entries in the awards competition required evidence of top-level administrative support; connection with an institution’s mission and strategic agenda; evidence the initiative contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming; and evidence the initiative was grounded in research and incorporated best practices.

Noting that the California State University system educates one of the most ethnically, economically and academically diverse student bodies in the nation, AASCU highlighted that, to fulfill the CSU system wide initiative at its campus, Fresno State “outlined clear strategies, goals and objectives for improving student success.”

Those strategies include:

  • Providing students with roadmaps for what courses to take
  • Developing early warning systems through advising
  • Focusing on high-impact practices that address real-world issues such as sustainability and ethical behavior
  • Reforming general education to be based on theme areas with specific graduation pathways
  • Having targeted support for initiatives such as increasing participation of African American and American Indian students on campus
  • Implementing the Dream Outreach and Success Centers to improve retention and financial options for undocumented students

Castro said this national award reinforces Fresno State’s ongoing success at achieving excellence in its academic and student service programs.

“It is an honor to again be recognized by such a prestigious academic association,” the president said, “to have AASCU affirm that our Graduation Initiative 2025 is a successful model in supporting talented students from all backgrounds.”

The award adds to a banner year of national accolades for Fresno State including high rankings by the Washington Monthly (No. 17 among top national universities) and U.S. News and World Report (among top three best public universities in graduation rate performance nationwide).

AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems in which members share a culture centered on learning and teaching, an historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

“Innovation at America’s state colleges and universities is focused on advancing the quality of the educational experience for their students and the distinction of their institutions in service to their communities,” said AASCU President Muriel A. Howard. “The programs for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues but all of higher education.”