Dominican Developing Transfer Pathways for HNU Students

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Dominican University of California has entered into a formal agreement with Oakland’s Holy Names University (HNU) to continue HNU’s educational work and create pathways for students to transfer to Dominican.

HNU announced today it will cease operations in May 2023 after the completion of the spring semester.

HNU’s institutional mission, values, and student demographics are similar to those of Dominican, an independent university with 2,052 undergraduate and graduate students, said Dominican University of California President Nicola Pitchford.

“Our two institutions are very well aligned in terms of student demographics and a strong commitment to social justice, cultural competence, and community engagement,” President Pitchford said. “We believe this will allow the spirit of HNU’s work to live on in our continued service to students. We are committed to developing supported pathways for HNU students and will do all that we can to make this a smooth integration.”

Dominican offers a broad range of almost 70 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Dominican will consider, through its shared governance process and in alignment with its accreditor, continuing beyond a transition period several programs offered at HNU that would grow well at Dominican. These include undergraduate kinesiology and criminology degrees and a graduate sports psychology degree.

Dominican’s athletics coaches will work with HNU student-athletes interested in transferring to Dominican. Both Dominican and HNU are members of the Pacific West Conference, affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level. 

Meanwhile, some of HNU’s faculty and staff may be offered the opportunity to continue in their roles – or similar roles – at Dominican, in consultation with both universities’ union partners.

Like Dominican, HNU serves a significant and growing number of BIPOC and low-income (Pell grant-eligible) students. More than half of HNU’s 523 undergraduate students are Pell eligible and 80 percent are students of color. About one-third of Dominican’s 1,230 undergraduates are Pell eligible and two-thirds are students of color. 

Dominican identified and responded to its students’ shifting demographics early, integrating into its campus-wide planning “high-impact practices” that the latest higher education research shows improve outcomes for all students but especially for students identifying with marginalized groups. The university then spent more than a decade developing a distinctive model of academic programming and student support – the Dominican Experience – in order to ensure students from all backgrounds had equal access to a quality college experience.

The Dominican Experience provides undergraduates with access to personalized coaching and the opportunity to engage with the community through service-learning, internships, and fieldwork. In their junior and senior years, students work closely with faculty mentors to develop original research or creative projects – often to present at regional or national conferences. Students graduate with digital portfolios that showcase personal growth, academic accomplishments, and professional skills.

As a result of the Dominican Experience, the university has seen a 29 percent increase in four-year undergraduate graduation rates over the past seven years, concurrent with a steady increase in students’ ethnic diversity. At 72%, Dominican’s four-year graduation rate is well above the national average and higher than many larger state schools.

“Across the U.S., it’s often small private regional colleges and universities that do the best job of educating underrepresented students, helping them stay in school to graduate, and providing pathways to social mobility,” President Pitchford said. 

“We are committed to ensuring that the students transferring from Holy Names University find a new home at Dominican and receive all the benefits of a Dominican education.”

This year, Dominican earned a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) designation from the U.S. Department of Education. Under the broader MSI designation, Dominican has qualified specifically as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). MSI designation underscores the university’s commitment to continuing to increase diversity at Dominican and to serving the needs of future students, particularly those from historically underserved populations.

This October, Dominican was awarded a five-year $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve educational outcomes for Latinx students. The grant will support Dominican in expanding undergraduate programming and introducing new initiatives to increase first-year and transfer enrollment and improve retention and graduation rates for Latinx students.

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