Higher Education’s Response to This Moment of Racial Reckoning

January 20

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

About the Symposium

As individuals around the world were adjusting to the uncertainty and transformation that has resulted from the COVID-19 crisis, longstanding inequities came to the forefront and prompted a global outcry against racial injustice. People rose up in protest in every US state and in more than sixty countries. While not new, the call for racial justice has taken on a new urgency and is having an impact on institutions of all types— including higher education. 
The symposium will provide opportunities for all campus stakeholders to come together for sustained discussion of how higher education is—or ought to be—responding to this moment of racial reckoning. How can the role higher education plays in perpetuating inequities be addressed? How can institutions move beyond making statements and act to create meaningful change? How can individual institutions effectively confront their own complex histories? How has the current global climate contributed to the increase in racist and other discriminatory incidents on campus, and what can be done to reverse the trend? How are faculty being prepared to address racism and equity issues in the classroom? What role should student well-being play in institutional change? In exploring these and other related questions, symposium participants will consider relevant research, promising practices, and new strategies for meeting the moment. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

All Times Listed are Eastern Time


1:00 – 1:05 p.m




Lynn Pasquerella, President, AAC&U


1:05 – 2:00 p.m


Opening Panel, Is Higher Education Meeting This Moment?


Mary Dana Hinton (moderator), President, Hollins University; J. Goosby Smith, Assistant Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, Associate Professor of Management, Co-Director of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center, The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina; Marjorie Hass, President, Rhodes College; Eduardo Ochoa, President, California State University–Monterey Bay


2:05 – 2:45 p.m.


Concurrent Sessions



Advancing Racial Equity Through Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers


The events of 2020—defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the protests and rallies against racism and brutality around the world—have greatly affected society as a whole. As students returned to campuses for their fall semesters, they not only faced the realities of structural racism, but they are now also witnessing the intersectionality of racism and health disparities. While health professionals are doing their part to identify cures and decrease the spread of COVID-19, who is implementing changes to dismantle the deeply held, and often unconscious, belief in the hierarchy of human value that fuels systemic and structural racism? What is the role of higher education in advancing justice and building equitable communities? Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) is a comprehensive, national, and community-based process to address the historical and contemporary effects of racism and to plan for and bring about transformative and sustainable change. This facilitated discussion will highlight the TRHT Framework and process, including Rx Racial Healing Circles and institutional and community-focused strategies for eliminating racial inequities. This project was launched with the support of Newman’s Own Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Papa John’s Foundation.


Mobilizing Campus Leadership to Support Student Well-Being as an Equity Imperative


The need for colleges and universities to attend to student well-being was necessary long before the murder of George Floyd and current calls for racial justice. But the highlighting of systemic racism globally, within the United States, and on college campuses has hastened the imperative for higher education leaders to connect issues of well-being with efforts to support equity, particularly for students of color. This session addresses how campus presidents and senior leaders can collectively shape an agenda for student success by including well-being as a fundamental component of equity initiatives and commitments to racial justice.

2:55 – 3:35 p.m.


Concurrent Sessions



Global Learning's Response to This Moment


Prompted by the COVID-19 global health pandemic and this moment of racial reckoning, higher education—and the field of global learning—have been pushed to make changes. While institutions have adapted their programs to reflect this time of limited mobility, it is even more important that students connect globally. In this global context, there is an opportunity for great collaboration to ensure global learning experiences make clear connections between local and international realities and address racial equity and decolonization. Global learning leaders have also engaged with diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders to improve the campus climate for all domestic and international students. This session will address how global learning is changing to address this moment of racial reckoning for local, global, and international experiences.


The Meaning Behind the Measures: What "Counts" as Evidence of Student Success?


With the Varsity Blues college admissions bribery scandal, the University of California System’s decision to drop the SAT and ACT, the challenges with administering AP exams during COVID-19, and the increasingly loud questioning of the value of a college degree, the way we measure students’ potential, their abilities, and their success matters now more than ever. In this session, panelists will discuss the testing ecosystem of college admissions and all the ways we measure students once they enroll. More importantly, the panelists will address the meaning behind these measures and what needs to change to ensure all students’ successes “count” in our conceptions of quality and equity in undergraduate education.


3:40 – 4:00 p.m.


Open Discussion and Closing Remarks