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NASH Issues Report on Student Transfer, the First to be Published Under New Power of Systems Initiative

April 18, 2022

For Immediate Release: Monday, April 18, 2022

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of System Heads (NASH) announced today the release of a new report, The Emerging Role of Public Higher Education Systems in Advancing Transfer Student Success. The report is the first of many to be published as part of the new Power of Systems initiative, which will highlight the ability of college and university systems to move the dial on critical issues facing students in America.

Authored by Jason Lane, Maria Khan, and Daniel Knox, the report generally finds that “prior and continuing approaches to ‘fixing’ transfer […] often focus on how individual institutions want transfer to work rather than responding to how students are actually moving between institutions.”

Across multiple systems of higher education, the report takes a hard look at curricular reforms, credit mobility policies, the emerging role of technology, the use of transfer analytics, and practices to improve equitable transfer. It also provides “snap shots” of comprehensive efforts undertaken by The State University of New York (SUNY) and the University of Wisconsin systems over the past several years.

“The topic of transfer is of signature interest to NASH and a core component of the work of the Power of Systems,” said Rebecca Martin, executive director of NASH. “Last year, NASH adopted our Statement on the Commitment to Transfer Student Success and launched the NASH Transfer Network, which serves as a forum for members of NASH to discuss system level transfer work and share best practices. We can, and will, figure out a way to overcome these barriers for our students.”

“The future of transfer student success lies in the power of systems,” said Nancy Zimpher, director of the Power of Systems at NASH and chancellor emeritus of SUNY. “Transfer is one of the best examples of the transformative effect of systems. Implementing a system-wide transfer policy at SUNY led to increased student completion rates and decreased time to degree. It certainly wasn’t easy, with both political and practical obstacles in our way. But being able to solve that problem collectively is exactly why we’ve brought our NASH systems together.”

Zimpher wrote a piece for Times Higher Education opining on the effects these transfer policies can have for systems and their students.


The report is available online at

The Power of Systems initiative consists of five imperatives that guide the work and three components that will help to implement it. One of these components is the Institute for Systems Innovation and Improvement which, with partners including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching amongst others, will drive the implementation of the imperatives. These include:

  • Learning: System-wide support for flexible and responsive programs to meet the unique needs of each student.
  • Talent: A civically engaged and globally competitive workforce that contributes to community vitality, economic development and knowledge creation.
  • Equity: Just and accessible opportunities that empower all students through the removal of structural and systemic barriers.
  • Investment: Collective resource sharing and efficiencies to reinvest in student success.
  • Systemness: Leveraging the power of public higher education systems to better serve students and society.

Additionally, the Systems Center for State Policy will provide systems with the tools to help tackle infrastructure issues at the state level, provide evidence-based research and consulting, and create an annual report card to publicly track progress. The Partnership for Federal Support of Systems will highlight NASH’s work with the U.S. Department of Education to increase the cost effectiveness of federal investment in higher education, improve interagency collaboration and beltway partnerships, set direction for upskilling the nation’s workforce, and identify integrated funding opportunities.

The Power of Systems is made possible through initial generous support of our partners including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, ECMC Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Strada Education Network.

College and university systems and other partners interested in joining NASH’s work to end student inequities through the work of the Power of Systems can learn more at


About the Authors

Jason E. Lane is the Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Society at Miami University in Ohio; Senior Fellow at NASH; and co-lead of the NASH Transfer Network. Previously, he was a senior leader in the SUNY system, overseeing transfer and credit mobility. Dr. Lane has published more than 10 books on higher education, including Higher Education Systems 3.0 and Higher Education Systems Redesigned (both from SUNY Press).

Maria I. Khan is a Research Coordinator for NYKids at University at Albany, SUNY; Research Associate at NASH; and a Fulbright scholar. Maria has also co-led the development of the NASH Transfer Network. Previously, she served as the Assistant Director of the Systems Center: Center for Education Pipeline Systems Change at University at Albany, SUNY. Khan is a researcher of education policy in the areas of improvement science, student success, higher education leadership, systemness and international educational development.

Daniel Knox is the Senior Advisor at NASH where he is supporting the development of the Institute for Systems Innovation and Improvement, and co-leads the NASH Transfer Network. Previously, Dr. Knox held the position of Assistant Provost at SUNY, where he engaged in developing, implementing, and assessing broad-scale policy, research, and technology initiatives aimed at supporting student success and closing equity gaps, with a particular focus on transfer policy. Through his research at the University at Albany and SUNY System Administration, he has published articles, book chapters, and conference papers on transfer policy, technology implementation, shared governance, accountability, the cross-border regulation of branch campuses, and electronic monitoring in higher education.


About the National Association of System Heads
Founded in 1979, the National Association of System Heads (NASH) represents chief executives of the 52 public higher education systems in the United States. Member institutions work collaboratively to advance innovation and change in public systems of colleges and universities. To learn more about NASH and its national initiative, the Power of Systems, visit


Media Contact

David Belsky


REPORT: The Emerging Role of Public Higher Education Systems in Advancing Transfer Student Success