The College of Staten Island has been selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) as one of 15 pilot institutions to take part in the inaugural Transformation Accelerator Cohort, a program designed to help institutions eliminate race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success.

The appointment to the cohort came after a rigorous and competitive application process, and will be a valuable opportunity for the College, according to Interim President Timothy G. Lynch. “Being included in this Transformation Accelerator Cohort is a great honor and privilege,” he said. “It recognizes the hard work that has gotten us to this point, and foregrounds our institutional commitment to provide access to transformational educational opportunities for all members of the CSI community.” 

Lynch cited the excellent work of Associate Provost Ralf Peetz, who ushered the application process. Peetz noted how the Transformation Accelerator Cohort will continue CSI’s commitment to serving the underserved in higher education. “It is a distinct honor to be selected as one of just 15 institutions nationwide,” Peetz said. “We will be building on the transformational change started as a member of another highly selective group of institutions, the Frontier Set. Specifically, we will now be focusing on improving equity in outcomes for Black, LatinX, Indigenous, and low-income students.”

CSI joins SUNY-Oswego as the only institutions in New York that will participate in the program, and the College is one of seven in the cohort designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).  Collectively, the selected institutions serve 120,525 students with an average Pell eligibility of 58%, according to the AASCU.

The inaugural Transformation Accelerator Cohort is a two-year, team-based initiative that provides “customized support for making data-informed decisions grounded in students’ realities.” The TAC requires institutions to assemble a campus team of key leaders who will participate in helping to close the equity gaps that exist in the groups Peetz pointed to.

“Our core team will consist of our President, Provost, Vice President for Student and Alumni Engagement, Chief Financial Officer, Chief of Staff, Director of Institutional Research, and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Student Success,” Peetz explained. “This ensures the project is supported and resourced with the highest priority possible. The next step will be a discovery phase, which involves diving into key performance indicators and identifying key opportunities of improvement. This phase will involve expanding the team by involving various stakeholders across the campus.”

According to the AASCU, the TAC involves peer-to-peer learning across institutions via in-person and virtual Student Success Academies. Participants will have access to resources, such as online modules and Webinars, and receive support from subject matter experts in data analytics, equity, student success, advising, institutional transformation, and strategic and systems planning.

“AASCU is proud to be leading the nation on postsecondary student success for America’s New Majority at state colleges and universities,” said AASCU President Mildred García. “For over 50 years, AASCU has partnered with member institutions to deliver on the American promise of access, affordability and educational opportunity. The Transformation Accelerator Cohort articulates an equity imperative to help everyone see their role in ensuring success.”

For Peetz and the CSI team that will bring the TAC to life at the College, the hope is to have the TAC lay the groundwork for leveling the playing field for student success for those who exist in these equity gaps. “The goal is to provide all students, regardless of background or financial ability, with a level playing field regarding the opportunity to pursue a meaningful education and graduate with a degree of their choice that enables them to follow their dreams and career goals,” he said. “We will be looking into how we can further reduce the time to degree for our students, allowing students to increase lifetime earnings and enhance career options. We will be exploring ways to increase the diversity of our faculty and staff who serve our diverse students. And because every institution engaged in this effort with us over the next two years brings a unique perspective, there will be ample opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and look to each other for peer support on this journey.”

The inaugural TAC cohort comprises the following AASCU institutions: 

  • Albany State University (GA)
  • California State University-Fresno
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • College of Staten Island/CUNY
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • PASSHE/Bloomsburg University, Lockhaven University, Mansfield University (PA)
  • SUNY College at Oswego
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • Texas A&M Kingsville
  • Prairie View A&M University (TX)
  • Texas A&M University System
  • Texas A&M University-San Antonio
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • William Paterson University (NJ)


About the AASCU

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, DC-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit us at

By David Pizzuto