HomeAbout RNLRetention Excellence Awards

Celebrating commitment to student success and college completion


About the awards

The Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Awards program was established to honor the retention achievements of regionally accredited post-secondary institutions throughout North America. Established in 1989, there have been over 170 institutions recognized to date.

The purpose of the Awards program is to identify and recognize the most successful student success and retention programs in use from a variety of institutions serving a diverse range of students, and to share those programs nationally. These award-winning programs serve as models of retention excellence and offer other institutional leaders opportunities to emulate these programs on their own campuses.

The winner will receive a conference registration, recognition, and presentation session at the RNL National Conference.

Applications for 2020 are currently being accepted. Apply below by April 3, 2020.

College of St. Elizabeth receiving the 2019 REA
The College of St. Elizabeth received their REA at the 2019 RNL National Conference.

To be considered for an Retention Excellence Award, please complete the application below by April 3, 2020.

Winners will be announced at the 2020 RNL National Conference.

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Applications are reviewed by a national selection committee. Awards recognize integrated and successful retention outcomes. The areas listed below, which cover a wide array of academic and student service units and targeted populations, suggest the broad range of areas for which institutions might apply:

  • Minority student retention
  • Adult and returning learner retention
  • Commuter student success
  • Academic advising
  • Career services
  • Orientation/first-year programs
  • Second-year programs
  • Student assessment
  • Career development
  • Academic support services
  • Residence life/student activities and leadership
  • Student information and tracking systems
  • Early-alert programs
  • Faculty/instructional development
  • Staff/management development
  • Institution-wide retention efforts
  • Online learning programs

Program and institutional nominees are judged on several criteria:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Identifiable and measurable institutional outcomes
  • Originality and creativity in program conception and implementation
  • Use of resources
  • Adaptability for use at other institutions

Meet the Judges

Martin FortnerMartin “Marty” Fortner, Director of Institutional Research, Northeast Lakeview College, San Antonio, Texas; President, Association of Institutional Research Board of Directors 2019-2020

Mr. Fortner has over 20 years of professional experience which includes institutional research, program evaluation, performance auditing, quality assurance and accreditation. His leadership positions in planning, research, and evaluation have required him to be abreast of changing trends in higher education and the resulting implications on institutional effectiveness and student success. He has developed and implemented systemic-based evaluation processes designed to enhance strategic planning, academic quality, institutional effectiveness, performance funding, regional accreditation, and external reporting. Presentations delivered at professional associations have focused on the transformation of campus institutional research offices as conduits for organizational change.

Mr. Fortner has professional work experiences at Northeast Lakeview College, San Antonio, TX, Southern University System campuses located in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, LA, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, and the United States Governmental Accountability Office (GAO).

Monique Guillory

Monique Guillory, Ph.D,,Vice President for Academic Affairs, College of Saint Elizabeth

Dr. Guillory has served as the vice president for academic affairs at the College of Saint Elizabeth since 2015. Previously she served as vice president for academic and student affairs for the Southern University System—the only historically black higher education system in the country. Dr. Guillory also served as deputy chief of staff at Jackson State University, where she coordinated the institution’s first strategic plan and founded the Mississippi Learning Institute that yielded double-digit improvement in student achievement in the Jackson Public School District. Additionally, Guillory was executive administrator at the University of the Virgin Islands.

While in graduate school at New York University, Guillory won the Arthur J. Schomburg Award for Excellence in the Humanities. She is the co-editor of Soul: Black Power, Politics and Pleasure (NYU: 1998) and a 1991 Mellon Fellow. She is known for her expertise in program assessment, accreditation, proposal development, student-learning outcomes, and strategic planning.

Wendy Sedlak

Wendy Sedlak, Ph.D., Strategy Director of Research and Data, Lumina Foundation

Dr. Sedlak oversees the strategic direction and implementation of the Lumina Foundation’s research and data portfolio. This includes, among other things, establishing and synthesizing the evidence and data necessary to advise Lumina’s strategic direction, documenting effective practices to inform Lumina and the field, and measuring progress and success against key metrics, with specific emphasis on Lumina’s Priorities for Action, opportunity populations, and national attainment.

Previously, Dr. Sedlak served as senior director at Equal Measure. In her role, she managed and directed projects across various portfolios of work including many large-scale complex national systems-change evaluations. Prior to that, she worked on several academic and applied research projects in the social sector often geared toward understanding and addressing chronic, complex societal challenges in the areas of education, housing, and health.

Dr. Sedlak earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from Temple University and B.A. in anthropology and sociology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Compendium of Retention Excellence Award Winners

1989 – 2019

This document contains case studies of more than 170 campus retention programs that have been honored with a Retention Excellence Award.

View Award Winners

Retention Excellence Award Program Submission

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Have Questions?


Do you have questions about the Retention Excellence Awards?

Please contact Tim Culver of RNL:

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