Call for Proposals: 2017 Diversity, Learning, and Student Success

Deadline for proposal submission: Monday, September 12, 2016

The Association of American Colleges and Universities invites proposals that showcase evidence-based practices that reflect any of the topics below, and that can be adapted readily to a wide range of institutional types, including community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Please note that all session facilitators are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Presentation times range from Friday, March 17 at 7:30 a.m. through Saturday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m., and presenters are expected to be available at the time they are scheduled by the conference organizers.

Conference Topics

Please choose a topic from the suggested list below or from the conference theme that best represents the work that you would like to discuss at the conference. Use this topic to focus the content of your proposal.  

  • Creating fully inclusive campus environments: connecting diversity, learning, and student success; dismantling racism, implicit bias, and inequity
  • Developing guided learning pathways to degrees: asset-based approaches
  • Advancing learning outcomes associated with programs aimed at improving campus climates
  • New findings on student learning: engaging students’ interests and assets, nurturing constructive habits of mind and agency, identifying risk factors and effecting interventions
  • Designing culturally responsive high-impact practices, as well as integrative and developmental frameworks and strategies
  • Embedding diversity and social responsibility across the curriculum and cocurriculum
  • Advancing effective problem solving as an essential skill, key to both student success and to students’ ability to develop solutions to big questions
  • The impact of identity, intersectionality, and positionality on student development and learning
  • Dimensions of diversity: sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religion, ability, gender, race, and ethnicity
  • Adaptable strategies for supporting diverse student populations
  • Encouraging exploration and innovation without fear of failure; helping students develop skills for navigating difficulty and moving forward
  • The impact of technology on student success, including online and social media microagressions
  • Strategies for advancing the success and full participation of underserved male students, as well as approaches that ensure female students’ full participation
  • Designing and implementing difficult dialogues that engage students in real-time issues
  • The impact of student voice on campus and in community; student leadership and engagement in minority movements and other current events, at home and around the world
  • Institutional assessment plans for high-impact practices, using qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Direct assessment of student learning outcomes
  • Analyzing and using data for continuous improvement
  • Engaging in strategic visioning for accountability and systemic change
  • Sustaining and expanding change efforts
  • Developing faculty and staff capacity to lead change
  • Establishing and sustaining collaborations for curricular and cocurricular innovations and high-impact practices
  • Faculty and staff diversity training
  • Role of teaching and learning centers as campus change agents

LEAP Featured Sessions

Conference sessions designated as “LEAP Featured Sessions” are intended to highlight the innovative work of colleges and universities that are members of AAC&U’s LEAP Campus Action Network (CAN).  Featured Sessions make explicit links between campus-based educational reform and the Essential Learning Outcomes, Principles of Excellence, and High-Impact Practices described in AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.

For more information on applying to have your conference session designated as a LEAP Featured Session, visit

Session Formats

Please select the format that will best enable you to effectively engage conference participants with learning about and considering how to adapt your research, theories, strategies, and promising practices to their own campus work and culture. 

Poster Sessions (90 minutes; 1-2 presenters; 6’x3’ table with 4’ x 3’ table top bi-fold poster board)

Posters share visual models of campus specific approaches to connecting diversity and high-quality learning to advance student success.  They might focus on a particular equity-minded framework; student-centered/asset-based learning paradigm; topic/problem; strategic planning framework; concept map; assessment rubric and feedback loops; or high-impact practices.  Posters that include evidence of success and resources for participants will be given priority. Posters are displayed on a 4’ x 3’ poster board that stands on a 6’x3’ table. 

Problem Solving Sessions (75 minutes each; 2-4 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audio visual as available upon request)

Problem-solving sessions should identify a topic and problematize it as a way to foster discussion and develop a plan of action.  Proposals using this format should:  1) describe the problem; 2) offer a call to action (to address the problem); and 3) provide a method (such as concept mapping, promising practices, or other tools) to engage participants in examining a topic of mutual interest and applying knowledge from a variety of perspectives to solve the problem. Participants may be organized in small discussion groups according to institution type and to mix junior with senior faculty and other campus practitioners to gain a full range of perspectives and to foster inclusive problem-solving practices.  Sessions that model high-impact practices—reflection, discussion, collaboration, hands-on activities—will be given priority.  Please note that the session should be an inclusive discussion with problem-solving exercises that advance actions adaptable to others – not a show-and-tell of what you did.

Strategic Planning Sessions (75 minutes each; 2-4 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audio visual as available upon request)

Strategic planning sessions should examine and bridge research, theory, and practice to advance evidence-based plans of action.  Proposals using this format should: 1) provide research findings related to one of the conference themes; 2) examine critical theory that provides scholarly grounding emanating from this evidence; and 3) engage participants in considering how the findings and theories might be used to advance change on their campus. Facilitators should provide data/findings related to the topic and engage participants in reflection, discussion, and strategic planning. Sessions that model high-impact practices—reflection, discussion, collaboration, hands-on activities—will be given priority.  Please note that the session should be an analysis of theories, strategies, and practices that are adaptable to others – not a show-and-tell of what you did.

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

Proposals are accepted through an online format and must include:

  • Name, title, institution, discipline and email address of each facilitator
  • Session title (100-character limit including spaces)
  • Anticipated participant learning outcomes (30-word limit)
  • Statement of intended audience (50-word limit)
  • Background and evidence of effectiveness of work being presented (250-word limit)
  • Plan for participant engagement (150-word limit, not required for poster proposals)
  • Brief description to explain what your session will address if accepted (this description will be used in final conference program - 150 words)

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U strives to offer a balanced, informative and thought provoking conference that best fits within the framework of fostering and supporting diverse and inclusive campus cultures that place high-quality learning and success for all students at the center.  The conference proposal selection committee will include experienced, diverse campus practitioners.  In evaluating conference proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the presentation/session will contribute to advancing paradigm and campus culture shifts to focus on diversity, high-quality learning, equity, and student success in undergraduate education.  The following elements will be considered in the review of conference proposals:

  • the potential for the proposed session/presentation to connect theory with practice to advance knowledge and understanding of diversity, inclusion, and high-quality learning/paradigm shifts in undergraduate education
  • the extent to which the session/presentation offers creative, novel and transformative mechanisms and faculty/student affairs educators development for enhancing inclusive excellence
  • the ease by which conference session/presentation materials and outcomes can be adapted to a wide range of institution types

Additional Information

The deadline for proposal submission is Monday, September 12, 2016 by 11:59 pm EDT.

Upon submission of a proposal, the session contact should receive an automatic message indicating that AAC&U has received the proposal.  If the contact does not receive this message (and it is not in his/her spam filter), please e-mail Melissa Gray at or Jacqueline Martin at


The session contact will be notified via email of the decision on the proposal by mid-October.

Expenses and Fees

All session facilitators are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Please be sure that all individuals listed in the proposal have this information and can be available to present throughout the event. Presentation times range from Friday, March 17, at 7:30 a.m. through Saturday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m.

AAC&U Sponsorship Program

Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the regular proposal process, but will be referred to AAC&U’s Sponsorship Program. 

More information about sponsorships is available by writing