As the disruption of the COVID pandemic began receding in 2022, the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) experienced a resurgence of energy and dedication to our mission. It has become clearer than ever that we need a movement toward large-scale student success to elevate us as a society and as a competitive economy. For this to happen, we simply must achieve equity for those student groups that have been traditionally underserved. The UIA's hypothesis for evolving equitable practice nationwide is centered on the belief that testing and scaling innovative interventions within our network can lead to widespread sector change. We grew our network this year from 11 to 15 institutions to provide even greater opportunities for learning and scaling the most promising student success practices.
The Black Student Success Initiative
Building on landscape assessment and groundwork begun in 2020, this year, campuses participating in the UIA's Black Student Success Initiative (BSSI) began piloting new interventions designed to improve the outcomes and experiences of Black students.
Inspired by the BSSI, we are also developing a playbook focused on identity-conscious redesign that will equip any institution to drive change for the benefit of a unique student community. We are grateful for a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to support this work.
Listening Lab for Campus Transformation
In 2022, the UIA launched a new project to design, implement, and scale an adaptable but systematic approach to elevating and listening to the student voice. With project leadership from Michigan State and pilot engagement from three additional UIA campuses (UC Riverside, Purdue, and Georgia State), the UIA is developing protocols, training modules, and actionable insight reports designed to help institutions uncover and address barriers to equitable student success that might not appear in large survey datasets.
Doctoral Research Fellows
Building on the lessons of our 2020-2021 Doctoral Research Fellows Cohort, in 2022 we launched a second cohort of emerging scholars who are working with faculty advisors and UIA liaisons to conduct research on student success at their institution. Seven UIA campuses are now participating in the second round of this collaborative effort. Their projects this year focus on:
- Understanding how course remediation policies can affect equity gaps in D, F, and Withdraw grades (DFW) in gateway courses
- Identifying which life stressors influence students' mental health and their utilization of connecting campus resources
- Assessing the impact of a summer enrichment program aimed at first-year students who need additional academic support
- Exploring how institutional constraints affect student success for sophomores with minoritized identities
- Utilizing mixed research methods to understand how inclusive advising practices impact Black student success
In 2023, we look forward to sharing this cohort's findings and recommendations for policy and practice with our network and with you.
Frontier Set: Seeds of Transformation
From 2015-2021, the UIA supported a subset of member institutions participating in the Gates Foundation's Frontier Set, a group of high-performing, high-potential colleges, universities, state systems, and supporting organizations that are committed to eliminating race/ethnicity and income as predictors of student success by transforming how they operate.
UIA institutions that participated in Frontier Set (Arizona State, Georgia State, and the University of Central Florida) worked with both the UIA and the broader Frontier Set network to show how innovative course delivery models, use of data and technology, and cross-functional collaboration and organizational redesign can all improve equity in student outcomes and experiences. The Frontier Set's activities came to a close at the end of 2021, and we are pleased to share what we learned from this initiative about transformation in large public research universities. The UIA is grateful to our partners at the Gates Foundation and at UCF, GSU, and ASU for sharing their transformation journeys as part of this initiative.
University Innovation Lab
With the challenges of 2020 and 2021 further behind us and the successes of 2022 inspiring us to forge ahead, the UIA looks forward to sharing with you everything we do and learn in 2023, supporting you so that you, in turn, can support your students. The Alliance will welcome new member universities early in the year, creating new opportunities for greater impact on behalf of today's students.
To support and extend our collaborative work, we've developed the University Innovation Lab to share tools, resources, and virtual learning opportunities across our network and beyond. Recognizing that virtual collaborative space has never been more crucial for listening to and supporting one another, we are expanding Lab access to partners outside the UIA. Reach out if you're interested in learning more about how to engage. We'd love to include you in our community.
The Learning Continues
In the year ahead, we'll be focused on our BSSI and Listening Lab, and also on launching our newest multi-year scale initiative focused on addressing DFW grades. Through a new investment from Ascendium Education Group and the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation, UIA members will scale and study an innovative academic recovery model that's already been successful at one of our institutions.
We look forward to sharing with you what we learn. And as ever, we thank you for being part of our movement to redesign higher education around student success. We invite you to connect with us -- we'd love to hear what you're learning, too.
Note: This blog, adapted from the UIA's Annual Report, is the second of two highlighting our progress in 2022. We invite you to read 2022: Reemerging, Growing, and Evolving.