Ellucian Student Success Challenge

$50,000 in prizes to institutions that come up with new and creative ways to address the factors that determine student success.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed

Challenge Winners
Mark Wall
SAIT Polytechnic
Peter Kehler
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
Terri Ewers
North Iowa Area Community College
Shelly Schmit
North Iowa Area Community College
Felecia M. Nave
Prairie View A&M University
Honorable mention
Lee O'Farrell University College Dublin
Jay Corwin University of Central Oklahoma
Laurie Gruel San Juan College
Sally BIrkam Muskegon Community College
Neil Mort Fairleigh Dickinson University Vancouver Campus
Jane Jackson Tennessee State University
Katrina Campbell Tompkins Cortland Community College
Gillisann Harootunian California State University Fresno
Margaret Dixon Coahoma Community College
Rhyan Conyers Transylvania University


1/28/15 UPDATE:  As we reviewed the many challenge entries we received, we recognized that the quality of the entries themselves was so high that we would need extra time to review each one fully.  We plan to announce the winners in early February.  Stay tuned!   

We are awarding $50,000 in prizes to institutions that come up with new and creative ways to address the factors that determine student success.

At Ellucian, we know that heightened scrutiny on student outcomes, the implementation of performance-based funding structures, and the ability for students to pursue educational paths in new ways are all forcing higher education institutions to assess how to increase retention, completion, and graduation rates - and to shorten time to degree - for the students they serve.

The Ellucian Student Success Challenge is designed to encourage you to begin or advance existing efforts to promote student success at your institutions. We want to create an incentive for you to develop innovative ways of addressing the factors that determine whether your students will achieve their educational goals, and in turn, to help your institution achieve its mission.


We want to support you as develop creative ways to address the specific challenges that affect retention, completion, or graduation rates, or that determine time to completion or degree at your institution. Maybe you have an exciting idea that you would like to put into practice, or maybe you have an effort in place that you want to expand. We would like to hear about it, and we want your peers to learn from your efforts. Ultimately, we hope to create a source for best practices that can help our customer institutions consider new approaches as they foster student success.



We will offer first, second, and third-place prizes in the following amounts to Ellucian customer institutions:

  • First Place:  $15,000
  • Second Place: $7,000
  • Third Place:  $3,000

We will also offer 10 honorable mention awards of $2,500 in credits towards Ellucian Professional Services engagements.

Winning submissions will demonstrate engagement in analysis about the factors that determine whether students or a cohort of students may ultimately succeed at a particular institution, and will propose a hypothesis of how the institution could improve student success by addressing the challenges or underlying factors that may impede a student's - or a cohort's - ability to succeed.  It will also demonstrate how an institution would use Ellucian software, services, or both in their efforts. The goal or goals could include an element of measurement and would indicate what elements would make the proposed solution sustainable at the institution and/or replicable at a peer institution. Challenge entries will be judged on five criteria as delineated in the challenge questions.

Each entry must provide answers to each of the five challenge questions. We encourage entrants to provide additional content to supplement their challenge entries. This could be supplied via a URL that contains supplemental materials, for example.



The Ellucian Student Success Challenge is open to employees of any current Ellucian customer institution. Individuals wishing to participate in the challenge must complete registration through the HeroX site. Challenge prizes will be awarded to the institutions and not to individuals. To be eligible to compete, an individual must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Individual Challenge-Specific Agreement. The Challenge Agreement include restrictions on potential entrants that are intended to prevent conflicts of interest, and that ensure that participants are at least 13 years of age.



The challenge will be judged by the official judging panel. The panel will be responsible for evaluating compliance with these rules and guidelines and will have the sole and absolute discretion to select the challenge prize recipients. The judging panel's decisions are final, binding, and not subject to challenge. The judging panel will include highly qualified and impartial judges to be selected by Ellucian. All members of the judging panel will be required to acknowledge that they make no claim to the intellectual property developed by teams, team sponsors, or partners. All decisions and opinions made by the judging panel shall be rendered by a majority of the judges and are binding on both the individual and Ellucian and are not subject to review or contest. In the event of a tie, the entry that includes that supporting materials will be named the winner. In the event that both tied entrants have provided supporting materials, the judging panel will determine the winner.



All individuals must register for the challenge by October 6, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time to be eligible for prize consideration. No registrations will be accepted after this date.  All submission materials must be received on or before October 31, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. No submissions will be accepted after this time. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. All submissions must be received online via the challenge website.



Judges will have an opportunity to ask any questions of teams and to request any additional information in order to make their final determinations. All complete submissions will be presented to the judging panel for ranking and judging. The submissions will be ranked against a scorecard and judged for overall effectiveness by the judging panel. At the completion of judging the winner of the challenge will be announced.



Ellucian reserves the right to modify the challenge criteria or rules in order to achieve the goals of this challenge. Modifications to the challenge will be posted on the challenge website.


Challenge Updates

Ellucian Student Success Challenge Announcement

Dec. 9, 2014, 8:17 a.m. PST by Ceri Jones

We had originally planned to publicly announce the winners of the Ellucian Student Success Challenge on December 8.  Because of the number and quality of the entries we received, we needed more time than anticipated to review and to ensure that all our "i"s were dotted and "t"s are crossed.  We will announce winners and honorable mention awardees as soon as we can.

Another Tid-Bit: Factors That Affect Completion

Sept. 26, 2014, 10:17 a.m. PDT by Ceri Jones

Thinking about the reasons that students may fail to complete?  Ellucian's own Dr. Brandon B.A. Miller is too, here.

Food for Thought: 5 Common Pitfalls That Keep Students From Graduating

Sept. 19, 2014, 10:23 a.m. PDT by Ceri Jones

Wanted to supply some food for thought that may be helpful as you think about your challenge entries. Our downloadable e-book sets forth  5 common pitfalls relating to completion, and is available here.

Some Food For Thought - Student Success Outcomes

Sept. 10, 2014, 8:55 a.m. PDT by Ceri Jones

Working on your Ellucian Student Success Challenge entries?  Thinking about the different factors that may shape student success at your institution?  Need some food for thought? Dr. Brandon Miller's blog post on outcomes may help spur some ideas, and you can find it here.

It Takes A Village

July 22, 2014, 10:22 a.m. PDT by Ceri Jones

We're fortunate to be a part of the higher education community, which has an innate tendency toward collaboration for the common good.  We see it time and time again as our customers put their heads together to address issues that they face, and it's why we're so committed to this challenge.  Want to learn more, or to share more information about the challenge with your colleagues?  See a blog post from Michael Betz, Ellucian's Chief Marketing Officer, here.