‘Hudson Scholars’ Program Recognized with 2021-22 Innovation of the Year Award

League for Innovation in the Community College honors HCCC for its model student support program

Pictured in foreground from left: “Hudson Scholars” counselors Elizabeth Ryan, Alyssa Rupnarain, and Mackenzie Johnson. In background at left and right: “Hudson Scholars” counselors Nicholas Mangal and Richard Remoura; center: Dr. Gretchen Schulthes, Associate Director, HCCC Advisement and Transfer.

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) has been recognized with The League for Innovation in the Community College’s 2021-22 Innovation of the Year Award. The honor was conferred for the College’s “Hudson Scholars” Program. The College is one of just 20 community colleges in the United States to receive the award.

The Innovation of the Year Award celebrates programs, practices, and activities that improve the ability of institutions to serve students and the community, and honors the faculty, staff, and administrators who create and implement them.

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Designed and developed under the leadership of HCCC President Dr. Christopher M. Reber, the HCCC “Hudson Scholars” program is a tripartite model of student support that provides proactive advisement, financial stipends, and early academic intervention.

“Hudson Scholars” utilizes best practices of the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) and the City University of New York (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) to ensure that a greater number of students facing financial challenges, language barriers, employment concerns, and family responsibilities complete their college educations. Early outcomes of the “Hudson Scholars” project are exceedingly positive and indicate the program may be sustained and grown beyond the period of initial grant seed funding because of its impact on student retention and the resulting increased revenue.

“We are especially proud to be recognized for ‘Hudson Scholars’ as it assists students with whole-life needs and completing degree work in a more timely and effective manner,” Dr. Reber said. “We are committed to sustaining and enlarging successful elements of the program to eventually serve all HCCC students,” he said.

HCCC formulated the “Hudson Scholars” program to initially serve almost 800 students – four times the number of students enrolled in the HCCC EOF program, impacting nearly 1,000 HCCC students combined. Due to the success realized in the program’s first year, a second cohort of 800 additional students will participate in the program in Fall 2022.

The program is open to incoming students enrolled for at least nine credit-hours of coursework at HCCC, including students in their final semester of English as a Second Language (ESL), and all levels of Academic Foundations English. “Hudson Scholars” have the advantage of meeting regularly with “Hudson Scholars” academic counselors, whose caseloads are 80% less than those of other advisors, and who mentor and coach students and help keep them on track with an early-alert system.

Counselors monitor and support students’ academic progress; prompt students to complete assigned tasks; assist students in setting academic and career goals; monitor outside factors that may impact students’ progress; and make referrals to on-campus support such as tutoring, and “Hudson Helps” Resource Center services.

“Hudson Scholars” students are further incentivized to participate in high-impact practices each month, and receive stipends of $125 to $250 for completing designated tasks and achieving important academic milestones every month. The stipends are utilized for books and supplies; purchasing food and paying bills; transportation; housing; tuition; and childcare.

Early “Hudson Scholars” program data show that fall-to-spring retention increased 51% for students engaged in the program. Increased revenue associated with this improved retention has already covered the program’s current operating costs, while anticipated fall-to-fall increased retention makes its long-term sustainability highly probable.

The League for Innovation in the Community College is an international nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst for introducing and sustaining transformational innovation within and across colleges and international borders to increase student success and institutional excellence.

The League fulfills its mission through conferences and institutes; online resources; research; and projects and initiatives with member colleges, corporate partners, government agencies, and private foundations. League activities center on diversity, equity, and inclusion; information technology; leadership development; learning and student success; research; and workforce development.