Hudson Scholars Program Named a Finalist for National Bellwether Legacy Award

November 14, 2023

Last year’s award-winning program receives further accolades from the Bellwether College Consortium.


November 14, 2023, Jersey City, NJ – Earlier this year, Hudson County Community College’s Hudson Scholars program won the prestigious 2023 National Bellwether Award for Instructional Programs and Services. Now, Hudson Scholars has been named one of eight finalists for the Bellwether College Consortium’s 2024 Legacy Award at the upcoming 30th Annual Community College Futures Assembly (CFFA) that will be held next February in San Antonio, Texas. 

According to the Bellwether College Consortium (BCC), “The Legacy Award is BCC’s most prestigious recognition of a past Bellwether award-winning community college with a remarkably enduring and successful program.  This award is presented to a college with sustained measurable achievements, such as high graduation, transfer, retention, and job placement rates.”


Hudson Scholars has been recognized again as a nominee for the 2024 Bellwether Legacy Award.

John Urgola, HCCC Director of Institutional Research and Planning; Dr. Gretchen Schulthes, HCCC Director of Advisement; Dr. Christopher Reber, HCCC President; Natalie Jimenez, HCCC student and “Hudson Scholars” participant; and Mackenzie Johnson, “Hudson Scholars” Academic Counselor at the 2023 Bellwether Awards in San Antonio, Texas. Hudson Scholars has been recognized again as a nominee for the 2024 Bellwether Legacy Award.

The Bellwether Awards, presented by the Bellwether College Consortium, recognize cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that address critical issues facing community colleges through applicable research and the promotion and replication of best practices in categories including Instructional Programs and Services, Workforce Development, and Planning, Governance and Finance. The Bellwether Awards are compared to college football’s Heisman Trophy because they are competitively judged and awarded by respected peers in leadership positions.

Dr. Christopher Reber reflected on the award nomination, stating it was “a testament to the enduring success and transformative impact of this program.” Dr. Reber continued, “Hudson Scholars embodies our entire College community’s steadfast commitment to student success and to creating opportunities for students from historically underserved and marginalized groups.”

Hudson Scholars is a major point of pride for HCCC. Developed under the visionary leadership of HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber, the Hudson Scholars Program expands academic access and promotes student success through a unique, multifaceted approach combining proactive student support, financial stipends, high impact educational experiences, and early academic intervention.

Over 2,300 students have been selected to participate in Hudson Scholars to date, and the program has made an immediate and profound impact. Hudson Scholars has driven increased Fall-to-Spring retention of 80%. Hudson Scholars who meet with their counselor monthly are being retained at a 92-100% rate. Fall 2021 Hudson Scholars earned a credential within two years, representing 300% of the rate for students of the same academic profile from Fall 2018-2020. The Hudson Scholars program has effectively reduced students’ time-to-completion in half.

Some of the Hudson Scholars Program’s greatest impact has been with traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations such as Hispanic and African American students. The Fall-to-Fall retention rates of Hispanic or Latino Hudson Scholars improved by 46%, while Black or African American Hudson Scholars saw their rates increase by 83%. Furthermore, the two-year completion rate for students from these groups improved threefold when compared to 2018-20.

Further, and remarkably, the program has proven to be financially sustainable. While over $1 million has been invested in personnel and financial stipends, the increased retention created by the program has driven a $1.3 million increase in revenue, leading to approximately $320,000 in net revenue. According to Dr. Reber, “The financial sustainability of Hudson Scholars is especially encouraging as it means that this is a viable model for other institutions to replicate, which could lead to nationwide reform in serving students and communities.”

While the nomination for the Bellwether Legacy Award recognizes the success of Hudson Scholars thus far, HCCC is scaling this program to make an even greater impact for more students in our community and beyond.