2014 Diversity, Learning, and Student Success: Conference Highlights

Thursday, March 27

7:00–8:30 p.m. 
First Wave  

First Wave Hip Hop Theater Ensemble, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Founded by University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, First Wave Hip Hop Theater Ensemble is a groundbreaking collective of spoken word poets, emcees, dancers, singers, actors, and activists from across the United States.  First Wave brings together top artists and scholars into a unique community to create progressive and innovative art.  Under the artistic direction of Chris Walker, the Touring Ensemble has performed in England, Mexico, Panama, Ghana, South Africa, and Jamaica as well as across the USA, including featured performances on Broadway. First Wave will open the conference with its latest exploration and interpretation of power, identity, and personal and social responsibility.

Keynote Address:
The Wind Beneath Their Wings

Julianne Malveaux, Economist, Author, Commentator, and President Emerita, Bennett College for Women

Much of the issue of students’ success depends on the professionals that support them. First-generation students, and many others, need to be embraced, lifted, and encouraged. They must not be the subjects of stereotypes. As Dr. Maya Angelou says about the next generation, “you are the best we have, you are all we have.” In the name of love and commitment to our nation’s future, it is our job to embrace every student, especially those who are underrepresented and overlooked. There are students who have had daunting challenges and still they rise, especially if we lift them, the wind beneath their wings. 

Friday, March 28        

9:30–10:45 a.m.  
Improving and Measuring Student Success: Perspectives on Policy and Practice

Michelle Asha Cooper, President, The Institute for Higher Education Policy; The Honorable Steve Gunderson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; Debra Humphreys, Vice President for Policy and Public Engagement, AAC&U; José Moreno, Associate Professor of Latino Education and Policy Studies, California State University, Long Beach; Christi Pedra, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Customer Solutions, Pharmaceutical Distribution, Cardinal Health

Diversifying access to college and boosting student success have become policy and campus priorities. At the same time, employers seek ever larger numbers of college graduates with robust capacities to fuel our innovation-driven economy.  What does success really mean in today’s terms? How can we hold ourselves accountable for it with integrity?  How can we best combine the movement to increase access and completion with the movement to empower all students with knowledge and skills they need for success in the workplace and contribution to the common good?  This panel will examine these questions, identifying ways in which higher education, employers, and policy makers can marshal resources, enact policies, and foster practices that enable us collectively to make excellence inclusive.

2:00–3:00 p.m.  
Technology-Enabled Education:  Opportunities and Pitfalls

Candace Thille, Assistant Professor of Education, and Senior Research Fellow, Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning, Stanford University and Sylvia Manning, President, Higher Learning Commission

Higher education’s increasing use of MOOCs to raise enrollments and expand the reach of higher education prompts serious questions about the quality of learning. It also prompts a more capacious question about the opportunities for technology to increase access to high-quality education for all students and academic achievement of Essential Learning Outcomes for those who might otherwise not succeed. Thille and Manning will examine the research in technology-enabled and hybrid learning and will critique strategies for maximizing its benefits in the contexts of shrinking budgets, institutional mission, and higher education policies. They will also discuss how to avoid the pitfalls of poorly implemented designs, pitfalls that include a narrow education for some and a liberal education for others.

5:30–7:00 p.m. 
Community Forum:
Assuring Diversity in the Post-Fisher Era: Insights, Implications, Actions

Lester P. Monts, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Michigan

How must higher education evolve in a post-Fisher era to admit and graduate an increasingly diverse, post-traditional student population? What is the value of diversity in preparing students for work, life, and citizenship?  What can campuses do to assure equal access to high-quality education for populations including, but not limited to, first-generation students, returning adults, veterans, and traditionally underserved individuals?  Lester Monts will examine the trajectory of admissions policies, address the educational value of engaging diverse perspectives, and share promising programmatic and structural changes that campuses might implement to maintain diversity and inclusion.

Saturday, March 29

10:45–11:45 a.m.
Intentional and Strategic Connections of Diversity, Learning, and Student Success

Lon Kaufman, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, University of Illinois at Chicago

In 2002, AAC&U launched Making Excellence Inclusive to reinforce the Association’s longstanding commitments to diversity, equity, and a high-quality liberal education for all students. In 2013, AAC&U reiterated that commitment in a Board Statement on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence.” As we recognize the progress that has been made, we must also ask ourselves the difficult questions that will lead to critical decisions, such as “How do we dismantle policies and practices that perpetuate privilege and support educational inequity?”  The University of Illinois at Chicago has taken bold steps to “to reaffirm, renew and clarify their commitment to offer access, advance excellence and attain success to those who have historically been denied full participation in higher education.”  The UIC Diversity Strategic Plan and Undergraduate Student Success plan juxtaposed against other models and plans presented throughout the conference will provide a point of departure for identifying promising practices for advancing equitable access to higher education, high-quality learning, and student success in a new era for making excellence inclusive.