University of Memphis Finish Line Program Receives National Recognition

APLU Names Finish Line Finalist for Prestigious Degree Completion Award

October 22, 2018 - The University of Memphis' Finish Line Program is one of five finalists for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' (APLU) 2018 Degree Completion Award, which recognizes institutions that employ innovative approaches to increase student retention and graduation.

The Finish Line Program was established to offer a path to degree completion for students with 90 or more credit hours who previously had to abandon their education program. To date, the program has supported more than 1,600 students, generating almost 6,000 credit hours and more than $1 million in lost revenue. Most importantly, 526 students have graduated and fulfilled their goal of earning a bachelor's degree. Another 325 returning students are currently working on degree completion plans with an academic adviser, and at least 50 more students are expected to graduate in December.

"I'm delighted that the Finish Line has once again been recognized on a national stage for the outstanding work conducted on behalf of our returning adult students," said Dr. Richard Irwin, vice provost for Academic Innovation & Support Services and dean of UofM Global. "It is simply amazing to think that, in just four short years, more than 500 students who had given up hope of graduating have benefited from the degree completion opportunities afforded them through the Finish Line. Incredible work is being completed by the Finish Line staff."

Finish Line students may take traditional or online courses and can also receive Experiential Learning Credit for knowledge or skills gained outside the University. Additionally, some students earn credit through national exams.

Forty-five percent of the Finish Line students are first-generation, and almost 70 percent of the students are underrepresented minorities. The average lapse in enrollment is three years, yet the average number of credit hours completed prior to joining the program is 130 credit hours – more than enough to graduate.

Approximately 48 students have been able to graduate without enrolling in any additional coursework due to curriculum changes, an academic forgiveness policy and course substitutions. Almost 30 percent of the students have needed only one course to graduate. One-third of the graduates have been supported by the Finish Line Scholarship.

In addition to the UofM, finalists for APLU's Degree Completion Award include the University of Rhode Island, Wayne State University, Arizona State University and the University of Nevada, Reno. The winner will be announced at the APLU Annual Meeting Nov. 11-13 in New Orleans.