Lilly Endowment Grant Provides Six Sigma Improvements at AU


Anderson, Ind. — In mid-2021, Anderson University was the recipient of $1.3 million from a Lilly Endowment Charting the Future Phase III Grant in partnership with the University of Indianapolis and four other Indiana institutions of higher education. A little over a year later, the university is seeing it pay dividends.

The grant, which focuses on increasing student retention, partially targets the improvement of campus processes through Lean Six Sigma techniques. Lean Six Sigma is a collaborative problem-solving methodology that seeks to improve processes through the reduction of waste and the control of variation.  

The grant provided Lean Six Sigma training for faculty and staff from the six colleges and universities in the partnership. Anderson University’s participants were Dr. Stephanie Moran, director of engagement and adult learning, and Dr. Courtney Taylor, provost. 

Training totaled more than 60 hours of coursework taught by former Lilly executives who are Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, and required the successful completion of a team-based project. The specific projects at AU have focused on greater retention of first generation students and improvements to the deployment of academic success coaches for students who are at-risk.

“These projects do not only help Anderson University realize the immediate gains of improved operations,” said Taylor. “They also lead to good stewardship of the resources that we are blessed with.”

Although both Moran and Taylor have completed their projects and have earned the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, the grant will fund another round of process improvement projects at Anderson University.

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.