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University of Central Oklahoma Nationally Recognized for Excellence in Student Success

From left to right, two men and a woman pose for a photo. The man in the middle is in graduation regalia and is holding a certificate.

Aug. 17, 2018

Media Contact: Sarah Neese, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Communications, 405-974-2121,

University of Central Oklahoma Nationally Recognized for Excellence in Student Success

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) named the University of Central Oklahoma one of its 2018 Excellence and Innovation Award winners, recognizing the university’s Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) and its role in student success and retention.

The awards program honors AASCU member institutions for excellence and innovation in several major areas of campus life and leadership, including regional and economic development, student success and college completion, sustainability and sustainable development, teacher education, international education, and leadership development and diversity. The awards will be presented Oct. 28 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Central received the Student Success and College Completion Award for STLR. The program is an award-winning, campuswide initiative which provides a way for students to track their transformative learning experiences and demonstrate workplace readiness to potential employers. Now four years into implementation, STLR has also  increased retention and grade point averages for participating students.

“This recognition from AASCU acknowledges the high level of achievement and success our Student Transformative Learning Record initiative has had and continues to have in supporting student success, both here on campus and in the workforce and community after graduation,” said Jeff King, Ed.D., Central’s executive director for transformative learning.

STLR, funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Education, allows students to gain credits in five of UCO’s Central Six tenets – Global and Cultural Competencies; Health and Wellness; Leadership; Research, Creative and Scholarly Activities; and Service Learning and Civic Engagement – through submitting STLR-tagged assignments, attending STLR-tagged campus events, serving in STLR-tagged student groups and participating in extra-curricular projects.

Graduates can use the transcript from their STLR experience to show potential employers they have developed highly sought soft skills – like critical thinking and problem solving – through transformative learning.

A reflection of student success through the program was captured among a target group of first-time, first year students, who were low-income, first-generation and/or underrepresented and participated in STLR. Retention for the group, who began in fall 2015, increased 13 percent and student grade point averages, increased, on average, by 0.56 points. Additionally, many Spring 2019 graduates will comprise the first group who will leave UCO with four years of STLR experiences, supporting their future goals alongside their earned bachelor degrees.

“We are honored by AASCU’s recognition of UCO’s sustained commitment to transformative learning and the encouraging success of the Student Transformative Learning Record,” said UCO President Don Betz. “Dr. Jeff King and the STLR team’s dedication has impacted faculty development and student persistence across the university, and Central’s STLR approach to student success has attracted robust interest from institutions in the USA and beyond. Employers indicate their high satisfaction with STLR and the useful perspective it offers about prospective employees.”

Looking toward the future of the program, King and his team’s sights are set on expanding STLR to other institutions across the nation and beyond.

“An ongoing next step for STLR is to grow its footprint as more institutions around the country and, literally, around the world adopt and adapt STLR to their own missions, cultures and campuses. Multiple universities are doing so in the U.S., and they are joined by institutions in Ireland, New Zealand and Canada that are in various stages with their STLR implementations,” King said.           

For more information about STLR at Central, visit


Editor’s Note: Download art associated with this release at

Cutline 1: The American Association of State Colleges and Universities recently announced the University of Central Oklahoma as one of its 2018 Excellence and Innovation Award recipients. UCO received the Student Success and College Completion Award for its Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR), an award-winning, campuswide initiative, which provides transformative learning experiences for students, including developing students’ workplace readiness and their relationships with themselves, others, the community and the environment. Pictured, UCO graduate Miguel Elizalde receives recognition, a certificate and graduation cords for achieving transformation in the tenets of Global and Cultural Competencies, Leadership, and Service Learning and Community Engagement, as part of the STLR initiative.

Cutline 2: Students at the University of Central Oklahoma can participate in its Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) through STLR-approved classes, projects and events, like Big Pink Volleyball, pictured, an event STLR-tagged for the tenet of Health and Wellness.