Ben Davis University High School Earns Early College Endorsement for the Fourth Time

May 17, 2023

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis recently announced the re-endorsement of the Early College (EC) program at Ben Davis University High School for the fourth time. The Early College at Ben Davis University (BDU) High School is designated as highly effective in implementing the Eight Core Principles of Early College with fidelity. BDU Early College program began in 2007 in partnership with Vincennes University and the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. The program was initially endorsed by CELL in 2011, re-endorsed in 2015, 2020, and again in 2023.

BDU’s Early College high school model is designed to give students a jumpstart for the rest of their lives. Students can earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credit toward bachelor’s or associate degrees. While open to all students, Early College programs specifically serve low-income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners, and students of color – all statistically underrepresented in higher education. Early Colleges “blur the lines” between high school and postsecondary programs.

In the 2022 cohort of Ben Davis University graduates:
93% earned an associate degree, and over 10,976 dual credits were earned
93% earned an Academic and/or Technical Honors high school diploma
87% completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
100% high school graduation rate for the past twelve years

Principal Steve Samuel shared, “Ben Davis University is honored to be recognized as an endorsed Early College by CELL. CELL continues to be an incredible resource for schools in Indiana, and we are so fortunate to collaborate with the early college network across the state. The success our scholars experience is directly related to their dedication to earning an associate’s degree and the great work of the educators in our classrooms.”

To be considered for endorsement, the school prepared a portfolio that addressed the eight required principles established by CELL including providing a rigorous curriculum, robust student supports, and completion data. In addition, a CELL team visited the school to interview administration, teachers, students, and parents about the EC and its benefits and challenges before designating the program as endorsed.

“These endorsed Early College High Schools have documented evidence of quality programs that help high school students graduate high school and accelerate into post-secondary education, whether at a four-year institution, a two-year institution, or a career/technical program. These students’ accomplishments are true game-changers for them and their families,” said Sandy Hillman, CELL Director of Early College. “The strong leadership of Principal Steve Samuel; District Director of College and Career Readiness Rebecca Daugherty-Saunders; Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts; and Guidance Director Stephanie Kachur continues to lead an innovative Early College program that embraces excellence and extends its reach to a wide range of EC scholars. To be endorsed as a high-performing early college four times is a noteworthy achievement.”

Ben Davis University High School serves as a mentor in the Urban College Acceleration Network (UCAN) for other emerging Early College programs.

For more information about opportunities available at Ben Davis University High School, visit


The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township provides multiple pathways to success for more than 16,000 students, from preschool through high school. Located on the west side of Indianapolis, MSD Wayne works in partnership with the Wayne Township community to help every learner achieve excellence. To learn more about MSD Wayne, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @WayneTwpSchools and @WayneTwpSuper.