For Northeast Mississippi Community College, T.I.G.E.R.S. is more than the college’s mascot.

T.I.G.E.R.S. is a way of life for the two-year community college in Booneville.

T.I.G.E.R.S. stands for Technology, Innovation, Growth, and Engagement to Reimagine Success and due to that way of life, business software giant Ellucian has named Northeast as the Ellucian Impact Award winner for 2020 in the Digital Transformation Category.

Northeast is the only institute of higher learning – two-year community college, four-year university or college or any other school honored to garner the award in the western hemisphere.

Ellucian’s only other school in the world to earn the Ellucian Impact Award for Digital Transformation was the University of Greenwich in Kent and London, United Kingdom.

“This process began about 4-6 years ago as our former colleague, Jeffrey Powell and I talked about putting a device in every one of our students’ hands,” said Northeast president Dr. Ricky G. Ford. “Little did we know that we began a journey that would lead us into some realms of education that we did not know we would ever go into. We opened doors of learning to our students, educated our entire campus community about what technology was available to us and moved forward with technology on campus that would open a lot of doors that people began to take notice of.”

Ellucian cited Northeast for the digital transformation award for its ability to lower textbook costs for students, improve communications, better prepare students for the workforce and for engaging students during their time at the two-year community college.

Northeast’s 1:1 iPad initiative was key in claiming the 2020 Ellucian Impact Award for Digital Transformation.

Northeast implemented the campus-wide 1:1 iPad initiative in 2018 and increased the use of technology not only in the classroom but around the college as well and in the process, reduced the cost of textbooks from $212 at the beginning of the initiative to under $25 a book on average for a student with many textbooks costing nothing to the student.

“Since 2018 we have had an iPad 1:1 initiative on campus, where every one of our students and faculty members have the same device in hand,” said Northeast vice president of instruction Dr. Michelle Baragona. “This has increased our student success rates from 72-percent of students receiving an ‘A,’ ‘B’ or ‘C’ in a class to 79-percent of our students receiving an ‘A,’ ‘B’ or ‘C’ in their courses.”

Northeast also moved many of its processes that required a person to come onto campus and fill out a paper form, online to make the process simpler and easier.

In addition to moving most of its textbooks into a digital format, the college took the initiative to save students even more money while at Northeast.

“We have also been able to move textbooks to a digital format and currently, about 95-percent of all of our textbooks on campus are a digital format,” Baragona said. “We have implemented an Open Educational Resources (OER) program which means our students are able to get their textbooks at a free or reduced cost for many of those courses. The percentage of OER courses on campus is currently around 77-percent. That means 77-percent of books on campus are free or extremely reduced costing $20 or less.”

In addition to its iPad 1:1 initiative that transformed the college, Northeast has also taken pride in perfecting its student services programs with integrated dashboards to help facilitate across-the-board improvements in reporting of grades, tracking of attendance and credits earned by each student.

During its transformation process, Northeast became the first school in Mississippi – two-year community college or four-year college or university – to offer a Z-Degree. When a student is enrolled in a Z-Degree program, the student will incur no costs for textbooks while earning their general studies degree.

To aid in that process, Northeast has implemented the latest edition of Ellucian Banner along with Ellucian’s Degree Works software, which lets students view their progress toward graduation as they move through the two-year community college system.

Northeast was able to provide Ellucian with reportable metrics and quantifiable results of its digital transformation to be considered for the award. Award winners were announced at the 2020 Ellucian Impact Awards Live event during the fall semester.

In addition to being the only school honored in the western hemisphere for the Ellucian Impact Award for Digital Transformation, Northeast was also the only community college recognized by Ellucian. Ellucian honored a total of six institutes of higher learning for 2020. In addition to Northeast Mississippi Community College and the University of Greenwich in the Digital Transformation category, Bryan University in Smithfield, Rhode Island and Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah took down top honors in the Innovation Category while Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas and the University of The Bahamas in Nassau, Bahamas was honored in the Student Experience Category.

Ellucian uses the Impact Awards to honor higher education institutions that harness the power of technology to solve challenges, operate more efficiently and enhance the student experience.

“Higher education leaders have responded to the unprecedented challenges of 2020 with grit, determination and resourcefulness. The winners of our Impact Awards are excellent examples of how institutions are innovating from within to support their students, faculty, staff and local communities,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “We congratulate these customers on their success and are honored to support them as they harness the power of technology to reimagine the future of higher education.”

In addition to worldwide acclaim, the 2020 Ellucian Impact Award winners receive a $25,000 grant to be used to continue their efforts, an engraved trophy and promotion through Ellucian’s website, social media, and marketing campaigns.

Ellucian is the market leader charting the digital future of higher education with a portfolio of cloud-ready technology solutions and services. From student recruitment to workforce analytics; from fundraising opportunities to alumni engagement; Ellucian’s comprehensive suite of data-rich tools gives colleges and universities the information they need to lead with confidence.

Working with a community of more than 2,700 customers in over 50 countries, Ellucian keeps innovating as higher education keeps evolving. Drawing on its comprehensive higher education business acumen and suite of services, Ellucian guides its customers through manageable, sustainable digital transformation — so that every type of institution and student can thrive in today’s fast-changing landscape.

This year, 2020, Northeast has seen many firsts and the Ellucian Impact Award for Digital Transformation is just one in an extensive line of digital successes at the college. In January 2020, Northeast became just the fourth community college in the world to reach the prestigious Apple Distinguished School designation.

Northeast was also honored as one of the top colleges and universities in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal along with many other awards such as the Campus Labs Trailblazer Award that welcomes a college creating a culture of assessment on campus through Campus Labs Planning to increase institutional adoption, focus on continuous improvement, and closing the loop in the institutional assessment priorities. Northeast has also been named a Healthiest Workplace in Mississippi as it pertains to colleges and universities.

In addition to being one of the top colleges and universities in the nation, recognized Northeast as the top school in the state of Mississippi for online education out of all colleges and universities, including four-year colleges and universities. ZIPPIA has honored Northeast as the top community college in Mississippi in preparing students for the workforce and Northeast became the first college or university to offer a Z-degree (zero textbook cost) degree in the state of Mississippi as well.

Northeast athletics can also boast that it is home to a new ultramodern baseball and softball facility and currently holds the record for largest video boards for both sports in the community college ranks in the state.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has appointed the college as one of its “Best Places to Work For,” and has named Northeast a Top 25 Community and Junior College in the country while The Center for Digital Education has recognized Northeast as a Top 10 Digital Community College in the nation.

For more information about Northeast Mississippi Community College, visit

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