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University of Phoenix successfully completes inaugural Student Success Academy of the Higher Learning Commission

By Sharla Hooper

Recognition highlights University’s deep institutional commitment to understanding student challenges and taking action to improve student success

University of Phoenix has graduated from the inaugural Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Student Success Academy, successfully completing a phased, three-year program focused on evaluating and improving institutional factors that affect student success. The Academy was designed by HLC to help institutions identify their current realities and discover areas of opportunity for improving student success through a holistic assessment of student success, challenges and opportunities.

The University of Phoenix established an HLC Student Success Academy Team which consisted of a cross-functional group of staff and faculty representing key areas across the University regularly engaging in student success initiatives and processes. The Academy Team led the University through the three-year program.

“The strongest advocates and supporters of University of Phoenix students are our people: our leaders, staff and faculty,” states John Woods, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer. “We are wholly committed to student success and helping our students achieve their career and educational dreams. Having this team lead us through the Higher Learning Commission’s Student Success Academy gave us additional tools, resources, and perspectives to build a Student Success Plan, enhance our infrastructure, and identify opportunities for strategic and immediate action.”

The third and final year of the Academy was largely focused on documenting findings from the team's environmental scans and inventories conducted in the first two years of the program, looking at student success indicators in the areas of Data, Initiatives, Infrastructure, and Engagement. The University's Academy Team worked to analyze the findings and develop an executive summary with proposed recommendations for continuous improvement of student success areas.

The Academy team participated in a series of consultations with an HLC Mentor to share findings, areas of recommendations and identify areas of emphasis for the culminating project, the Student Success Plan. The Student Success Plan included recommendations for strategic actions across the University, specifically aligned to HLC's 7 Student Success Dimensions:

  • Student Satisfaction
  • Persistence/Retention
  • Degree Completion/Graduation
  • Personal Goal Attainment
  • Student Engagement
  • Student Learning
  • Employability

The team also launched a Student Success Survey for staff and faculty in July 2021 to identify trends in stakeholder perceptions of their priorities aligned to the student success categories. The final Student Success Plan was shared with University leadership and successfully submitted to HLC in March 2022.

The University celebrated its graduation from the Student Success Academy program at the HLC Annual Conference held in Chicago, IL, on April 1-5, 2022, where Samantha Ronsick, senior manager of Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance, and Academy Team Lead, was also invited to present at the HLC Conference on an institutional panel to share reflections on the achievements and lessons learned from the Academy. Team members attended a celebratory graduation reception held at the HLC conference, as well as a two-day Stewardship Forum to share insights and best practices from the Academy with other institutions.

University of Phoenix has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1978. University of Phoenix holds institutional accreditation by HLC as well as programmatic accreditation for select programs. More information about the University’s accreditation is available here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit