Equity in the Academic Experience

Come with a goal, leave with a plan!

A diverse community committed to student success

The Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience is a working institute. Our motto is, “come with a goal, leave with a plan.” We seek participation by a diverse group of U.S. colleges and universities. Each institution assembles one or more teams of faculty, staff, and administrators whose complementary perspectives and expertise can best advance meaningful equity work. Informed by roundtables and workshops, and coached by experts and peer practitioners, campus teams workshop projects that will improve equitable access and outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and students of color at their institutions.

We are pleased to be able to offer attendance free of charge to all teams. This has been made possible through the generosity of the American Talent Initiative and the efforts of many higher education individuals who are truly focused on providing equitable access to equity conferences!

Who should participate?

We welcome a wide range of institutions – colleges and universities, public and private, PWIs, HBCUs, and MSIs – to send teams to the Summer Institute for Equity in the Academic Experience.

The challenge of providing a quality college education to a diverse demographic of students – and ensuring their sense of belonging and success – is shared across the higher education landscape.

The Summer Institute strongly suggests that colleges and universities form cross-campus teams to engage in this work.

We have found that teams of ~4-6 individuals who represent different sectors of the institution and who function at different levels within the institutional hierarchy are most effective at both creating bold, informed, and feasible plans – and then mustering the campus energy, attention, and resources to bring these plans to fruition. In order to receive the full benefits of the Summer Institute, campus teams need to commit to full participation in both the pre-institute activities and the three days of the institute.The Summer Institute strongly suggests that colleges and universities form cross-campus teams to engage in this work.

This change requires building new connections, stepping back to pause and reflect, engage both data and stories, personal development and policies and practices.

Dr. Heidi Elmendorf, Director of the Hub for Equity and Innovation in Higher Education

Why participate?

Each Institute offers a model of distributed expertise, which provides an array of opportunities to listen to and learn from colleagues at other institutions as well as invited guests.

Teams from colleges and universities engage in a structured and mentored design process to define and create a plan to address a key barrier to diversity, equity, and student success at their institution.

Past Team Project Topics

  • Developing a culturally engaged advising toolkit for academic and faculty advisors
  • Developing a framework for using student data analyses to help stakeholders more fully understand academic equity issues and to support positive action to address those issues

  • Building an inclusive pedagogy professional development course for faculty proposing new courses
  • Developing a training experience on inclusive practices for tutors and other undergraduate student leader

  • Developing a concrete set of proposals for improving retention and graduation for students from diverse groups with strong STEM interests, including those who may have had disappointing results in their introductory STEM classes
  • Identifying discrepancies on key outcomes for STEM-interested students in key gateway science courses and any personnel or practices associated with better student outcomes in these courses; developing a series of recommendations to shape systematic faculty development efforts for science faculty

Developing strategies for placing students in the Math curriculum, engaging students in the placement decision, and promoting feelings of academic empowerment and belonging; refining existing Math placement tool, its delivery, and the training for advisors and mentors

Specific Team Topic Examples:

Our Community

The Summer Institute and Community of Practice launched in fall 2020 are made possible by the generous support of the American Talent Initiative (ATI). ATI is a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported collaboration between the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and a growing alliance of colleges and universities dedicated to substantially expanding opportunity and access for low- and moderate-income students. ATI members—all graduating at least 70 percent of their students within six years—have joined together to address this challenge.

2022 Participating Institutions