Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success
AAC&U’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success (DESS) accelerates institutional transformation by advancing equity and student success efforts in service to diverse populations, academic excellence, and social justice.
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Student Success
AAC&U’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Student Success supports college and university campuses by developing and implementing evidence-based strategies that elevate high-impact teaching and learning experiences, that address the “how” and “why” of inequities in student outcomes, and that prioritize capacity-building efforts that achieve higher levels of student success and engagement.
DESS seeks to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to advance equity, diversity, and social justice through higher levels of personal and social responsibility.
The Equity Walk
Diversity and equity are not just hot topics or buzzwords for AAC&U—they are fundamental values and core tenets of our mission. DESS leads several projects designed to prepare higher education institutions with tools for success to support students from traditionally marginalized and racially minoritized backgrounds.
AAC&U is partnering with higher education institutions to host self-sustaining, community-integrated Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers. Organized around the five pillars of the TRHT framework—narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law, and economy—the centers prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to eliminate racism and dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value.
AAC&U’s project to Strengthen Guided Pathways seeks to build institutional capacity and to develop resources that will help institutions strengthen their efforts to ensure students are learning, as part of the Guided Pathways framework for student success.
The Purposeful Pathways project supports faculty-led efforts to strengthen curricular coherence and intentionality by enhancing guided learning pathways. These include well-planned sequential learning experiences that guide students in developing the intellectual skills and practical knowledge they will need for success in their life, work, and as engaged citizens.
AAC&U’s Teaching-Learning-Assessment (TLA) Framework is a practical, web-based tool used to help institutions build capacity to ensure students are learning. Organized by five phases and featuring elements such as campus spotlights, campus videos, guiding questions, and team activities, the TLA Framework offers strategies for how to successfully implement and scale the fourth pillar of the Guided Pathways model, Ensure Students Are Learning.
AAC&U is developing a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT)-Focused Campus Climate Assessment Toolkit. Using lessons learned from AAC&U’s work with TRHT Campus Centers and guided by the TRHT Framework developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the toolkit will help institutions and practitioners examine systems, policies, programs, services, and practices that perpetuate disparities and inequities through a false belief in the hierarchy of human value. The toolkit will complement existing campus climate surveys and will help institutions identify actionable strategies and practices to examine and, hopefully, transform harmful racial narratives and build relationships that nurture diversity and equity. The project team is collaborating with nineteen institutions selected to participate in the development process for the toolkit. These selected institutions will evaluate the toolkit’s content validity, relevance, and ability to enact institutional change.
Conference on Diversity, Equity and Student Success
The AAC&U Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success focuses on building coalitions and breaking down institutional siloes to create more just and equitable campuses and communities. This conference includes opportunities to explore how educators are advancing effective practices, identifying solutions to enduring challenges, and leading change for the common good.
Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success
Research shows that students involved in high-impact practices (HIPs) enjoy higher levels of learning success. These evidence-based practices include service learning, undergraduate research, and internships—to name a few. AAC&U’s Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success helps campus teams refine and assess their HIPs with an emphasis on quality, equity, and student engagement. Attendees participate in intentional reflection on institutional outcomes, develop comprehensive action plans, and have individualized consultations with HIPs faculty. The institute helps campus and system-level teams create sustainable student success goals and monitor progress toward achieving equity to improve educational outcomes for all students
Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers
The growing division across racial and ethnic identities in America cannot be ignored. How can colleges and universities act, transform, and heal from the legacies and harm of racism and bias? AAC&U is partnering with higher education institutions to develop TRHT Campus Centers to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and thinkers to promote racial healing and address current inequities grounded in notions of a racial hierarchy. As a part of this national effort, each TRHT Campus Center prioritizes expansive, community-based healing activities that seek to change collective community narratives and broaden the understanding of our diverse experiences.
Paths to Success: How Community Colleges Are Strengthening Guided Pathways to Ensure Students Are Learning
In 2019, twenty community colleges joined Strengthening Guided Pathways and Career Success by Ensuring Students Are Learning, a two-year project led by the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Making Liberal Education Inclusive: The Roots and Reach of the LEAP Framework for College Learning
This publication tells the LEAP story and situates it within the broader context of AAC&U’s work to integrally connect liberal learning with the wider world, and combine liberal education with inclusive excellence and equity.
We Hold These Truths: Dismantling Racial Hierarchies, Building Equitable Communities
This publication describes the work of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at colleges and universities across the ctountry to dismantle the tools that perpetuate oppression and entrenched racial hierarchies....
Democracy Despite Disruption: Improving Student Voter Engagement through Pedagogy
Colleges and universities are leading the way on improving voter engagement of our diverse populations of student learners, and data show this focus is working. Yet students in some disciplines vote at lower rates than others.
Challenging the Normalization of Hate: Strategies for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
How can Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) inform strategies to address the increasing normalization of hate within our communities? Given the power of the internet and social media for spreading white supremacist thought, Jessie Daniel
From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education
Drawing from campus-based research projects sponsored by the AAC&U and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, From Equity Talk to Equity Walk provides practical guidance on the design and application...
The Confounding Promise of Community: Why It Matters More Than Ever for Student Success
What is the role of community—as a concept, an outcome, and an entity—in a liberal education, and how can community contribute to student success? How do students experience community, on and off campus?
Challenge, Connection, Collaboration: Identity, Religion, Diversity, and Interfaith Cooperation
With an increase in incidents centered around interfaith misunderstanding on campuses and in communities, a number of institutions are reporting a need for student, faculty, and staff preparation for interfaith engagement.
Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success
To ask whether students are “college-ready” is to concentrate on factors beyond the control of higher education. With this publication, the authors flip the question to provide a new perspective on creating institutional value and facilitating...
Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning
Focused on issues of access and success, this publication provides a framework for dialogue, assessment, and action to address inequities in higher education institutions. It offers practical guidance for campus leaders and practitioners who...
General Education Maps and Markers: Designing Meaningful Pathways to Student Achievement
A resource for faculty members, academic leaders, and policymakers, this publication provides clear principles and guidelines for ensuring that general education fosters essential learning outcomes and key proficiencies important for...
Global Learning: Defining, Designing, Demonstrating
Although the term “global learning” is used widely across higher education, faculty, staff, and other practitioners do not always agree about what it means. Published jointly by AAC&U and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, this...
Investing in Success: Cost-Effective Strategies to Increase Student Success
This publication provides sound advice and practical planning tools for educational leaders who seek to invest in innovation, despite budget constraints. The authors present and discuss several campus examples of wise investment in the ...
- Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the TRHT Campus Centers
Kristen WongAssociate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success
Jane TurkProgram Manager
Nicole FryProgram Coordinator/Assistant to the Vice President
Adair AppletonProgram Assistant for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success
Support Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation on Campus
To support AAC&U's TRHT effort in advancing quality and equity in higher education, we invite members of our community to donate to the Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation fund today.