DESS Feature2

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.

DESS Projects

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.

Latest Activity


Dare Them to Dream

Colleges can inspire rural high school students to pursue a liberal arts education

The [2021 HIPs and Student Success] Institute provided valuable time for collaboration among key stakeholders involved in a campus initiative to develop HIPs across the curriculum. The AAC&U faculty were great in being accessible and supportive.
/ Participant at the 2021 Institute on High-Impact Practices & Student Success

Campus Examples

Office Staff

  • Tia Brown McNair

    Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the TRHT Campus Centers
  • Nicole Fry

    Program Associate/Assistant to the Vice President
  • Kristen Wong

    Associate Director of 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.