Oakton Earns National Recognition as Leader College by Achieving the Dream Network

(Feb. 20, 2020) In recognition of our commitment to improving student success and equity, Oakton Community College is proud to have earned the prestigious designation as a new Leader College from the Achieving the Dream (ATD) network. Oakton is among just four community colleges across the U.S. to receive the distinction in 2020.

The ATD network of community colleges is made up of more than 250 colleges in 44 states across the country, committed to helping students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity.

Leader Colleges, which are certified for three-year terms, have shown progress in building institutional capacity to create a student-focused culture and strong outcomes for all students. They play an important role in accelerating adoption of effective practices within the ATD Network and across the higher education sector. Leader Colleges are recognized for the quality of their work in whole college reform, resulting in increased completion rates for all students. Leader Colleges are expected to develop innovative ways to work with other colleges to share knowledge and facilitate an exchange of ideas about evidence-based reform strategies.

“We are honored to be recognized as a Leader College by Achieving the Dream,” says Oakton President Joianne Smith, Ph.D. “We have implemented a number of innovative programs and strategies to help students reach their academic goals, and we look forward to sharing our ideas with other colleges in the network to allow them to do the same.”

Oakton’s Faculty Persistence Project has been a signature initiative in contributing to student success. The faculty designed program provides a framework to foster connections between faculty and students in the classroom, increasing student engagement and persistence rates. Students participating in the persistence project persisted at a higher rate (76%) compared to non-persistence project students (69%) during the 2018-2019 school year. The program was a spotlight session at Achieving the Dream’s annual DREAM conference, has been featured in a number of national publications, and serves as a model for community colleges across the country.

“We’re proud to acknowledge the achievements of colleges in our Achieving the Dream Network,” said ATD President and CEO Karen A. Stout, Ed.D. These new Leader Colleges represent a group that has worked extremely hard over the past few years to change the trajectory of their institutions. Their work impacts their students, communities and the higher education sector.”

Joining Oakton in the 2020 cohort of new Leader Colleges are:

  • Chattanooga State Community College (TN)
  • MiraCosta College (CA)
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College (TN)

The 2020 cohort of Recertified Leader Colleges include:

  • Danville Area Community College (IL)
  • Indian River State College (FL)
  • Macomb Community College (MI)
  • Odessa College (TX)
  • Sinclair Community College (OH)

Learn more about Achieving the Dream at Oakton.