A profile of Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante, Ed.D., was recently published on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website as part of its Postsecondary Success project. The article, titled “Chris Bustamante: Maintain The Momentum at a College Known for Innovation,” is part of a series on “profiling the next generation of higher education innovators and leaders.”
The piece, authored by Jeffrey J. Selingo, profiles President Bustamante while providing an overview of the strategies Rio Salado College employs to help increase student success.
The piece showcases Bustamante’s three main approaches to running a progressive college: 1) “Rio Salado uses data, not anecdotal evidence, to drive strategy;” 2) Rio “runs a variety of small experiments before embracing new ideas, and scales up those that work;” and 3) Rio “has streamlined communications between departments within the institution.”
The article defines President Bustamante’s results as successful by the percentage of students who finish an associate degree in a two-year span, which is four times higher at Rio than the average for 100 peer institutions according the U.S. Department of Education.
“It’s in our culture that if there is a better way of doing something, let’s do it,” Bustamante is quoted as saying in the article, “Too many institutions wait too long – years, in some cases – for experiments to be completed, for multiple layers of approval, and by then the momentum for the idea is lost.”
The article also highlights unique-to-Rio details like up to 48, year-long start dates, and a student body spanning all 50 states. It also highlights the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant-funded program at Rio that assists 5,000 students to increase degree completion rates.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a private, grant-making foundation supporting initiatives in education, world health and population, and community giving founded by Bill and Melinda Gates.
For more information, visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website, or the Rio Salado College website.