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Diversity and Systemic Change: Instructors Transforming the Classroom through Innovative Collaborations

Author: Jordan Landry, College of Letters and Science Dean’s Office and English, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


This brief narrative tracks the pioneering community-building efforts at UW Oshkosh to address high drop/fail/withdrawal rates and low retention and graduation rates for students of color. Over two years, Oshkosh has worked to lessen the disparity between experiences of students of color and their white majority peers in gateway courses, those 100- and 200-level courses comprised predominantly of first-year students. By disseminating disaggregated data on the academic progress of underserved students, the dean’s office motivated instructors to tackle this problem and transform the gateway courses. A change in pedagogy and culture came about through interdisciplinary dialogues, public stories told by students of color, and individual departmental support for classroom innovation. The resultant grassroots leadership among instructors formed through inspired collaboration and support from administrators on campus.