Student demographics are changing on campuses across the country with more first generation and underserved students enrolling in higher education. At its annual Summer Institute, NAC&U administrators, faculty, and staff gathered in Washington, D.C. to strategize how to promote equity, especially in regard to curriculum, on their campuses.
Guest speaker Tia Brown McNair, vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, set the tone for the conference as she addressed the ongoing struggle in upending long-held beliefs and culture in higher education. She implored attendees to think about ways to embed equity into campus culture in a way that does not allow others to ‘opt out’ of embracing change.
Attendees then participated in catalyst leader-facilitated group discussions on 11 different topics including in-class strategies to engage all students, first- and second-year experience programs, and minimizing hostile environments for minoritized students in the classroom. On the second day, catalyst leaders gave an overview of their discussions, and attendees then met with their campus groups to discuss specific changes to implement at their institutions. Each institution shared its goals with the larger group. NAC&U intends to support its campuses with these goals by facilitating and fostering communication among its members as they worked toward advancing equity in and out of the classroom.
“NAC&U members are deeply committed to addressing equity on campus. Collectively, they are working to improve learning environments and outcomes while delivering a comprehensive model of education that reflects quality and purpose in higher education for all of their students,” said Sean Creighton, president of NAC&U.
Along with its members, NAC&U will sustain its work on campus equity by programming faculty development as well as conducting longitudinal research on underserved student success.