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University of Utah joins national higher education innovation alliance  

As the University of Utah continues to strengthen its commitment to serve every student, the institution has been invited to join the University Innovation Alliance (UIA).  

The UIA is the leading national coalition of public research universities working to dramatically increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States. The alliance is selective in its membership, with only 15 large public research universities in its ranks—including Arizona State University, The Ohio State University, University of Colorado Denver, Purdue University and University of Central Florida. 

Per the UIA design, the U will be the only institution from Utah to join the alliance. University President Taylor Randall said he is proud to be a part of a creative, impactful partnership transforming American higher education.  

“As we aim to become a top 10 public university with unsurpassed societal impact, we are making every effort to make a difference in the lives of all 3.3 million Utahns,” Randall said. “This includes supporting Utah’s growing knowledge economy and expanding our contributions as the state’s flagship university. Our UIA membership adds to what we mean when we say the U is one of America’s leading public research institutions.” 

The alliance operates as a multi-campus laboratory for student success innovation. Already, UIA institutions have increased the number of graduates of color produced annually by 93% and the number of annual low-income graduates produced by 50%, resulting in 118,000 more graduates to date since launching in 2014.

T. Chase Hagood, the senior associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate studies and one of two university liaisons to the UIA, said the accomplishment is possible because of dedicated efforts faculty and staff have made over the previous decade. 

Student success efforts at the U include:   

  • Student success coaching 
  • Peer education networks 
  • A thriving undergraduate research ecosystem 
  • Cohort experiences, including LEAP, Honors, Science Research Initiative and activities in Lassonde, Kahlert and more 
  • An emergent approach to proactive academic advising 
  • An ongoing General Education Reimagined curriculum and majors’ pathways that meet the needs and interests of all students  
  • The development of the “U Experience”—an experiential learning requirement for every student in their first 60 credit hours 

Since its founding in 2014, UIA institutions have increased their total annual graduates by 32%. Founding members are on track to award 136,000 additional degrees by 2025—double their original degree attainment goal.

“The University of Utah’s track record over the last decade clearly reflects their commitment to student success, collaboration and partnership—tenets of the University Innovation Alliance,” said Bridget Burns, the founding CEO of UIA. “As we prepared for expansion of the alliance, we reviewed demographic and outcome data for every R1 and R2 university in the country. Utah’s progress in enrolling, supporting and graduating a diverse student body stood out clearly. We’re excited to welcome them to the alliance and learn as we collaborate.” 

Hagood praised the palpable excitement on campus for expanding commitments to student success through evidence-based approaches. UIA efforts are specifically targeted at ensuring higher education institutions do a better job of graduating students across the socioeconomic spectrum, particularly low-income students, first-generation students and students from minoritized backgrounds. According to the UIA, “Raising graduation rates is imperative for individual social mobility and U.S. global competitiveness.” 

“Joining the alliance allows the U to partner with like-minded institutions to transform American higher education to provide greater access and pathways to success for all student communities, in particular first-generation students and their supporters,” said Laura Snow, a senior advisor in the Office of the President and the U’s second UIA liaison. 

Hagood added, “Membership in the alliance is a signal that the University of Utah is ready to engage at the next level alongside the most innovative universities in American higher education.” 

Randall and other university leaders are eager to collaborate in the UIA in fulfilling the U’s public mission and shared goals around success for all students. 

“This new partnership will enhance our efforts to bring new cohorts of students to campus that will engage in exceptional educational experiences, graduate in a timely manner and provide Utah and the nation future talent vital to our collective success,” Randall said. 

As part of the alliance, Lindsay Coco joined the U in September as a UIA fellow and special assistant to Hagood. Coco has over 15 years of experience working in higher education domestically and internationally in the areas of student success, international education, student affairs, teaching and learning and research.  

“I am thrilled to join the University of Utah and Undergraduate Studies team to support advancing the mission of students first,” said Coco. “It’s an exciting time to be part of the U and undergraduate studies, and I am looking forward to contributing my student success experience via collaboration and connection with the U community to further enhance the student experience.” 

Joining Hagood, Snow and Coco as a fourth member of the U’s UIA Lead Team is  Jim Agutter, senior associate dean for faculty success and academic innovation. 

The U officially joins the UIA at a Student Success Summit hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of the President on Nov. 30. To learn more about the U’s active membership in the alliance, visit