Few institutions are as mission-driven as DePaul. From educating immigrants and women in the early 1900s to its work with veterans after the original GI Bill, DePaul has a long history of serving students who might otherwise not have access to a quality education. At the same time, few universities are as market-responsive and entrepreneurial. Some might see the mission and market-responsiveness as competing priorities; DePaul believes these strengths intersect and are beneficial to its long term success. Leading the effort of balancing market and mission is the Center for Access and Attainment (CAA).
CAA was created by Enrollment Management (EM) in April 2008. It is not a physical space as much as it is an epicenter for access and attainment discourse at the campus, community, national and international level. It elevates and expands existing EM and institutional strategies as well as introduces new concepts and programs.
A core element of CAA’s programming is a partnership-based enrollment strategy to attract high-quality students. It manages strong partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago’s Catholic schools to ensure clear pathways for targeted populations, along with innovative approaches to student selection that enable DePaul to more effectively predict student success.
The center’s reach extends beyond pathways. It delivers pre-college programs for underserved college-bound students; cultivates institutional and community partnerships; and working closely with Institutional Research and Market Analytics (IRMA), the center provides research on issues of access and attainment.
As Brian Spittle, assistant vice president of CAA, has written, “access without attainment is essentially a promise denied.” To that end, CAA also runs several programs to help students succeed at DePaul and on through graduate school. They administer the university’s federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs for low-income and first-generation students, and in 2011, they introduced the Arnold L. Mitchem Fellowship program to provide further support for promising undergraduate students of color.
Results from these activities confirm the center’s effectiveness. Four-year graduation rates are up across all major ethnic groups and the freshman class is over 35 percent students of color. These metrics only begin to tell the center’s story. For a look at what the center is currently up to, visit resources.depaul.edu/caa.