Registrar's Office part of $1.3 million grant initiative

Elon University is one of eight schools awarded funds to develop or enhance innovative approaches to the traditional college transcript with additional information relevant to employers.

As employers look beyond grade point averages when hiring new college graduates, Elon University is on the forefront of developing new credentials that make it easy for students to demonstrate the scope and depth of their learning beyond the classroom.

Since 1994, the university has created and maintained the Elon Experiences Transcript to document student participation in five program areas: leadership, service, internships, global engagement, and undergraduate research.

Elon is now part of a project funded by a nearly $1.3 million grant aimed at making such academic records more robust and creating a better tool to understand a student’s educational experience. The university joins seven other institutions to use funding from the Lumina Foundation to pilot experimental models of collecting and displaying data relevant to employers.

Elon’s share of the funding will support the development of an interactive and visual display of student experiences that can be shared online via digital portfolios or social networking platforms, like LinkedIn. In one glance, employers or graduate school admissions officers will be able to see where a student studied overseas, the leadership positions he or she held, his or her undergraduate research projects and more.

“It’s a massive movement to expand the academic credential by bridging the gap between experiential learning and traditional academic records,” said Elon Registrar Rod Parks. “It’s pretty neat to be a part of a national movement and having us seen as a leader in this field.”

The Lumina Foundation grant is jointly managed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The two professional organizations are selecting which colleges and universities receive funding for their experimental work.

Some schools will use portions of the grant to develop competency-based credentials, Parks said; others will create innovative ways to expand the academic record, painting a comprehensive picture of the four-year student experience.

The project will conclude in December 2016 with the institutions selected issuing comprehensive transcripts for students, according to a joint statement from ACCRAO and NASPA. The schools will formalize lessons learned and provide guidance to the field on how to operationalize and issue comprehensive student records.

Based in Indianapolis, the Lumina Foundation is “an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials.”

Elon University’s inclusion in the project was reported in July 2015 by and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Both media outlets showcased the university’s experiences transcript.