Hudson County Community College receives award for ‘Hudson Scholars’ program


Hudson County Community College recently received the Bellwether Legacy Award for impacting student success in retention and college completion, particularly for those from traditionally underserved groups.

Photo courtesy of Hudson County Community College.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We know that empowering more students to earn a college degree is transformational for the students, their families, and the community at large,” HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber said in a statement.

“By successfully completing their college degree work, students are more likely to earn a family-sustaining wage, which in turn provides potential economic and tax revenue increases on the local, state, and national levels. Hudson Scholars addresses not only student success, but also social justice and equity. For HCCC, taking action to help all students succeed was not a choice, it was an imperative.”

The Legacy Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Bellwether College Consortium, is just one of many national accolades Hudson Scholars has received in the past two years.

Others include the League for Innovation in the Community College’s 2022 Innovation of the Year Award, Bellwether 2023 Instructional Programs and Services Award, and Provident Bank Foundation’s 2023 Signature Grant ($100,000).

Conceived during the turmoil, disruption, and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, the holistic Hudson Scholars program combines proactive student support, financial stipends, high-impact educational experiences, and high-touch early academic intervention.

To date, more than 2,500 HCCC students are benefitting from the program, which is regarded across the nation as a model for student retention and college completion.

Reber assembled a leadership team to act as the architects of Hudson Scholars.

Team members included Associate Dean of Advisement Dr. Gretchen Schulthes and Director of Institutional Research John Urgola.

Together, the team set about developing a customized, holistic and sustainable program that would begin within a few short months in fall 2021 and would serve 800 HCCC students, four times the number enrolled in the HCCC EOF program.

Hudson Scholars has grown from an initial cohort of 800 students to more than 2,500 students.

The program’s initial two-year investment was $1,054,460. Combined enrolled tuition for Fall 2021-Spring 2022 totaled $6,260,233, which was $1,376,190 more than expected. The increase resulted in $321,730 in net revenue.

Further, over the last three years, the ratio of HCCC students receiving intensive counselor support increased by 575%, proving the program is now reaching exponentially more students.

Hudson Scholars has achieved a fall-to-fall retention rate of 70%.

Specifically, term-to-term persistence rates of Hispanic or Latino students who work with Hudson Scholars Counselors increased by over 40%, while Black or African American students increased their likelihood of persisting by over 60%.

Hudson Scholars who meet with their counselor monthly are retained for the following semester at a rate of over 90%.

Students who worked with their Academic Counselor each month during their first academic year passed 93% of their classes while earning a 3.4 cumulative grade point average.

Fall 2021 Hudson Scholars earning a credential within two years represented a threefold increase compared to students of the same academic profile from Fall 2018 to 2020.

The two-year completion rate for traditionally underrepresented (Hispanic/Latinx and Black/African American) Hudson Scholars represented a threefold increase compared to 2018-20.

“We are very proud to report that the Hudson Scholars program is now self-sustaining, and that we are scaling the program for ALL HCCC students going forward,” Reber added.

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