CollegeNET, Inc., a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education and the developer of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), named Silicon Valley-based Notre Dame de Namur University a Social Mobility Innovator for 2019-2020.
Embracing a Commitment to Socioeconomic Inclusion
With 1,400 students, and a 12-to-1 student-faculty ratio, Notre Dame de Namur was selected as a CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovator for 2019-2020 because it fully embraces a commitment to socioeconomic inclusion. Two-thirds of NDNU’s incoming freshmen are first-generation students, meaning they are the first members of their family to attend a four-year college or university. NDNU offers significant resources and aid to these students, with 98 percent of incoming undergraduates receiving some form of financial aid. The average federal and private student loan debt for NDNU students who enroll as freshmen and complete a bachelor’s degree is 16 percent lower than the national average for students at private four-year colleges.
“In at least two important ways, Notre Dame de Namur provides a leading example for universities that seek to advance social mobility,” says CollegeNET President Jim Wolfston. “First is the solid on-ramp the university provides as it welcomes transfer students from community colleges. And second is that Notre Dame de Namur, by virtue of this on-ramp, is lowering the indebtedness of its graduates. This policy approach is key at a time when economic mobility and the American Dream are rapidly deteriorating. Today, as tuitions at U.S. campuses continue to increase, student indebtedness grows, and economic inclusion declines, Notre Dame de Namur is providing a strong example bucking these trends.”
“We’re extremely proud that Notre Dame de Namur is ranked by CollegeNET as the #1 private university in Northern California for helping students achieve social mobility,” says NDNU President Judith Maxwell Greig. “Our Hallmarks, which articulate our values as a learning community, emphasize that we embrace all kinds of diversity, including socioeconomic diversity.”
Good Jobs and Good Careers for Students
Many NDNU students also benefit from the school’s location in Silicon Valley. “Our campus is in one of the world’s most dynamic economic regions,” adds President Greig, “and this allows our students amazing opportunities for internships and careers after college.”
John Dinh, who earned a bachelor’s degree at NDNU in 2013, is a case in point. The son of Vietnamese refugees, and the first person in his family to attend a four-year college, John sought a career related to social and environmental change. He now works as a senior operations specialist at a global startup in San Jose that manufactures fully electric vehicles. “I’m excited,” he says, “to be part of a company helping to reduce fossil fuel reliance.”
Expanding and Enriching Pathways for Student Success
Notre Dame de Namur is a CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovator for 2019-2020 because it has built a smooth and seamless road enabling community college transfer students to apply, receive scholarships and thrive on the NDNU campus. NDNU is one of only three California colleges named to the Transfer Honor Roll compiled annually by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), a nonprofit honor society for community colleges. The four-year colleges on the Transfer Honor Roll were chosen “in recognition of the dynamic pathways they have created to support transfer students.”
NDNU is hosting a free, one-day conference — “Guiding Students to Better Futures Through Social Mobility” — for community college transfer counselors on October 28, 2019. Community college transfer counselors who wish to attend can visit the conference website. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Lindsay Romasanta, a dynamic student success expert.
Economic Inclusion Helps Spark Innovative Minds
In a keynote address at Old Dominion University’s Social Mobility Symposium earlier this summer, CollegeNET’s Wolfston stressed the importance of changing the core value system of higher education from the 1980s pursuit of self-aggrandizement and wealth to the delivery of opportunity to all ambitious students, regardless of their economic status. “College education now constitutes the most important rung on the ladder of economic mobility,” says Wolfston. “But particularly when a college offers a challenging environment populated with diverse ideas, economic backgrounds and viewpoints, it does something even more important: it prepares students to encounter, wrestle with, and appreciate the unfamiliar. Given that innovation always depends upon a person’s ability to consider what could be different from their own experiences and assumptions, economic inclusion is not only a solution to a social justice issue, it is a key strategy for developing innovative minds.”
Acknowledging Institutional Excellence
CollegeNET acknowledges schools — such as Notre Dame de Namur — that are advancing social mobility through innovative programs. CollegeNET presents the annual Social Mobility Innovator Awards to student success leaders from U.S. colleges and universities at the Social Mobility Summit — an annual forum on economic inclusion and best practices for student success held in Portland, Oregon, each summer. CollegeNET recently published an e-book that describes best practices from student success professionals pioneering innovative programs that support underserved and underrepresented students’ academic, personal and financial needs. Further, CollegeNET sponsors regional conferences to debate and discuss social mobility issues. Recent on-campus events have been held at the University of California, Irvine; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the University of California San Diego; Wichita State University; and Winston-Salem State University. CollegeNET-sponsored student success events are scheduled to take place at Notre Dame de Namur, Rutgers University / Newark and New Mexico State University in late 2019 and 2020.
About the Social Mobility Index
The SMI ranks nearly 1,400 four-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how successfully they keep tuition low, enroll students from low-income backgrounds, and graduate them into promising careers. The goal of the SMI — now its sixth year — is to help redirect the attribution of “prestige” in the higher education system toward colleges and universities that are advancing economic mobility — the most pressing civic issue of our time. The 2019 Social Mobility Index Rankings will be released in late October. See the current rankings and read more about the SMI here.