COTC Joins Achieving the Dream Network

Strengthen Student Success, Address Equity Challenges


Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) has joined the 2021 cohort of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network, a coalition of more than 300 colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia dedicated to improving student success.

As a Network institution, COTC will work to improve equitable outcomes for students, bolster student retention and completion, and expand holistic supports to meet students’ evolving needs. COTC is one of five community colleges joining this cohort.

“COTC is embarking on a new two-year completion plan (as required by the state of Ohio) with a focus on retention and completion,” said COTC Provost Eric A. Heiser, PhD. “Striving to ensure that it is serving all students in equitable ways, COTC will launch new systems, processes and procedures to better serve first-generation students, racially minoritized students and underserved populations.”

Heiser added that COTC seeks to increase the completion rate of part-time students by 10% and improve part-time student retention by 7% over the next two years. Nearly 75% of COTC’s student population attend part-time. 

The colleges are joining ATD after the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the nation’s health and economic inequalities, and the resulting economic fallout disproportionally hit working-class families and racially minoritized communities. 

“Colleges that partner with ATD must be both aspirational in how they engage change and be willing to take a hard look at where we are falling short,” Dr. Karen A. Stout, ATD president and CEO, said. “For ATD, that begins with centering equity within our institutions, understanding our students and their lived experiences, and tearing down structures and policies that are barriers especially for racially marginalized students.”

The five institutions have shown that student success and achieving equitable outcomes is at the core of their work. They will partner with ATD over the next three years to expand the use of best practices for student success and equity, receive guidance in transforming to a student-centered institution, and build a culture of data to identify barriers to student success, using qualitative and quantitative evidence to drive changes in policies and practices across the institution. 

Teams from each of the five colleges convened at a Virtual Kickoff Institute on Aug. 3 and 4, setting the stage for their work as ATD Network institutions. College teams met virtually with their ATD coaches and began to organize their student success work for the year, including preparing for campus-based kickoff work in the fall. Their kickoff experience included an introduction to ATD’s Institutional Capacity Framework, which helps colleges align their student success initiatives and interventions.

In addition to COTC, the ATD 2021 Cohort includes: 

• Southeast Arkansas College (AR) 

• Middlesex Community College (MA) 

• East Mississippi Community College (MS) 

• Madison College (WI) 

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. 

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.