Roane State named one of Achieving the Dream’s 2020 Leader Colleges of Distinction

UPPER CUMBERLAND – Roane State Community College is one of just four institutions from across the country to earn Leader College of Distinction status, the highest designation offered to institutions in the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network. 

Along with Roane State, the 2020 cohort of Leader Colleges of Distinction includes 2020 Leah Meyer Austin Award winner Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Wisconsin, Sinclair Community College in Ohio and Odessa College in Texas.

“In 2020, community colleges had to reimagine what student success looks like during a time of upheaval, uncertainty and unprecedented distance learning. The ATD institutions joining our Leader Colleges of Distinction this year have not only risen to the challenge of supporting students during a pandemic but have demonstrated a sustained commitment to improving student outcomes for many years prior. We are proud to acknowledge the work and care involved in driving these outcomes,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times. Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three or more student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer with an earned baccalaureate. 

Leader Colleges of Distinction also are required to show they have reduced equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups. These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater improvements in student success and equity.

“Roane State has been steadfastly devoted to student success no matter what barriers we or our students may be facing,” RSCC President Dr. Chris Whaley said. “I’d like to thank our administration, faculty and staff, our students and our community partners for their unflinching commitment to Roane State’s vision of transforming lives, strengthening community, and inspiring individuals to excellence. The outcomes truly speak volumes.”

Roane State had substantive increases in student persistence, credit completion and completion of a credential within four years of initial enrollment. Roane State narrowed their equity gaps for low-income students receiving Pell grants, part-time students, and between male and female students. The college also closed their existing equity gap on student persistence, increasing persistence for part-time students by 16 percentage points.

Read the full Leader College of Distinction announcement from Achieving the Dream online at the following link:

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554. Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

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. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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