In many ways, the past two years revealed the best of higher education. The strength, adaptability and resilience of our students were on full display. We also saw the kindness and generosity of faculty, staff and administrators as they helped each other grapple with new realities that were impossible to ignore. And from my perspective, the clarity of purpose and leadership of presidents has never been more visible.
Successfully navigating the rocky terrain of the past 20 months showed us just how much we’re capable of. We deserve the strength and confidence earned from this experience, and we’ll need to draw upon these resources when facing the challenges ahead.
One challenge top of mind right now is figuring out how to better serve and support our adult students (especially the low-income, first generation, and students of color). We have heard this message for the past decade, but Covid added new urgency by upending the lives and careers of millions of workers, many of whom need reskilling, upskilling, or the tools to pivot entirely to a new field. This new social imperative, along with the demographic realities of fewer “traditional” age students and a declining birth rate, is finally pushing us to rethink and redesign what and how we support the 36 million Americans who have some college, no degree.
Stepping up to serve the needs of adult learners does not mean serving them leftovers. They don’t just want an occasional night class, a prepackaged MBA, or the mixed experience of “allowing” a class to be broadcast on Zoom. How we listen to, learn from, and design for adult learners demands careful thought and attention. As we continue to transition back toward normal, we can’t afford to miss the opportunity of this moment when change and adaptation are the norm. Let’s leverage the newfound skills, confidence and adaptability gained from the past two years to rethink and redesign how we serve our students -- at whatever age they come to us.
UIA Member Spotlight
The Seal of Excelencia, awarded annually by Excelencia in Education, signifies an institution’s deep commitment to supporting, serving, and helping Latinx students thrive. Seal recipients go above and beyond to invest in helping Latinx students by closing equity gaps in college degree completion on their campus. This distinction is rare, since launching in 2019, only 24 higher education institutions have received this prestigious certification to date.
We are extremely proud that two UIA member institutions were selected to receive the Seal this year! Congratulations to the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of California-Riverside (UCR), who (along with 8 other institutions) were recognized for their strong evidence of institutional focus on advancing Latinx student success through intentional data, practice, and leadership strategies.
With three of our eleven institution having received this important designation (ASU was a 2019 recipient), we are excited to draw upon their expertise to identify how we can better advance Latinx student success and college completion across the Alliance.
Oregon State University
Brenna Gomez has 12 years of experience supporting first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color in a variety of environments spanning the nonprofit sector, support services in secondary education, and classroom teaching at the college level. Brenna co-facilitates the inclusive teaching workshop as part of the Black Student Success Initiative, as well as Career Champions, the former UIA BGEE project that now exists as a partnership between OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs and the Career Development Center.
What is one of the most valuable things you have learned during your time as a UIA Fellow?
Facilitation work is a good reminder of all the human skills we need to make innovative change. As a facilitator for faculty and instructors, it’s imperative that I come to the table with vulnerability, a sense of generosity, cultural humility, and a desire to help faculty find the solutions that make the most sense for their own classrooms and class modalities. What supports students in my 25-person Ecampus technical writing course might not be a successful solution for an instructor of a 200-person biology lecture, but by bringing faculty across disciplines together in a community of practice, we can more creatively brainstorm techniques to redefine our teaching practice if we show up authentically.
Learn with Us
- 12 Reasons Why Higher Ed Leaders are Grateful
- How to Build a Diverse Campus Culture featuring Don Pope-Davis, The Ohio State University
- Indigenous Students and Right Relation featuring Bryan Brayboy, Arizona State University
- 14 Ways Higher Ed Leaders Combat Burnout
We know your time is limited. That's why each issue, we'll choose THE BEST things we watched, listened to, or read.
- Work 2.0: The Obstacles You Don't See (Hidden Brain podcast)
- A Profession is Not a Personality (Atlantic)
- The Empowered University: Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success (Freeman A Hrabowski, III)
- Campus Counselors are Burned Out and Short-Staffed (Chronicle)
- What 'Build Back Better' Means for International Ed (Revue)
Events to Put on Your Radar
January 13 - 15, 2022
NASPA Mental Health Conference
Deadline to register: December 8, 2021
January 19- 21, 2022
AAC&U Annual Meeting
Deadline to register: January 4, 2022
March 5 - 7, 2022
ACE Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
Deadline to register: February 11, 2022
March 7 - 10, 2022
SXSW EDU Conference & Festival
Deadline to register: January 13, 2022
March 17 - 19, 2022
AAC&U Conference on Diversity, Equity & Student Success
New Orleans, LA
Deadline to register: February 23, 2022
March 19 - 23, 2022
NASPA Annual Conference
Deadline to register: February 18, 2022
April 4 - 6, 2022
ASU + GSV Summit
San Diego, CA
Deadline to register: April 3, 2022
Stuff We Love
- Game changing portable Home office (if you don't have one.)
- Screentime is aging us. You need to wear sunscreen in front of your computer. This is the best.
- Trying to be healthy at the office? This portable blender makes smoothies at the office so easy.
- Feeling bleary eyed from too much Zoom? These eye drops make the whites of your eyes instantly brighter.
- Sore back? Have you tried an ergonomic kneeling office chair?
“I still credit team sports with a lot of what I learned about leadership. You learn how important confidence is. If people go into a competition and the leaders aren’t confident, nobody’s going to be confident, and you’re not likely to win. It’s important for leaders to display that kind of confidence in all situations.”