This month I am thrilled to share some important news about the work of the UIA campuses, and our exciting next steps!
While sharing about the work of the UIA over the past eight years, the question I heard most frequently was "when are you going to admit more campuses?" To be honest, my answer was never that great. I would explain that we thought it would be strange to add new members while we were only midway through working on a large collective goal (as unusual as opening up an experiment and changing the participants in the middle). I would then share about all the public diffusion work we have done over the years to make our learning transparent and available to everyone in higher education (videos, podcasts, events, blogs, playbooks, op-eds, etc.), but this always felt like an unsatisfactory answer. While I did not have news to share yet, we had been thinking long and hard about what we would do when the time arrived, and most importantly how we would identify prospective partners and what kind of process would support onboarding a new campus as an equal partner.
This is why we are so thrilled to share the news of our expansion, perfectly timed to occur right when we surpassed our 2025 goals President Obama announced at the 2014 White House College Opportunity Summit. Now that we have achieved our first big public goals, and most importantly we've learned enough in the process that we know how to move even more rapidly, more ambitiously, and to bring others along. Getting to this point was hard-fought! When it comes to adding new partners, we have been trying to find the right moment and then make sure that we figure out the right partners.
With over 120 campuses having requested to join the UIA, we needed to differentiate "wanting to join" from "actual commitment to do the work." Developing a rigorous process was extremely important because the intimacy of the UIA is an essential element to our network impact, and we anticipate getting no larger than 20 institutions.
We began developing our evaluation and vetting process in early 2019, and we started with evaluating every R1 and R2 university in the country. We focused first on their data terms of demonstrated commitment to enroll and serve low-income, first-generation, and students of color at scale. We weren't looking for perfection, we were looking for genuine commitment, eager learners, engaged collaborators, people who didn't always need to be the ones sharing the ideas, and those who came with a spirit of "yes, and..." which aligns directly with our values.
Fun fact: one important objective of the show Weekly Wisdom was to help us vet and have conversations with prospective presidents, to make sure that our instincts were right, (without signaling that they were being considered for UIA membership). Over the past year, while we were creating content that was useful for the field and uplifting, we were also figuring out who were going to be our partners.
And so, after all this time we have identified a prospective list of 18 potential campuses, with two obvious standouts leading the group. There could be no more perfect partners to start our expansion than UMBC and North Carolina A&T. They have already demonstrated that they are world-class collaborators and partners, and we can't wait to show you the values of its leaders and their serious commitment to student success.
UIA Member Spotlight
We are thrilled to welcome University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) to the UIA. Both institutions have a long history of supporting students from underrepresented groups, including low-income and first-generation students and students of color.
UMBC is ranked by Times Higher Education as one of the top 10 U.S. universities for social and economic impact and is the number one U.S. producer of African American graduates who go on to earn an M.D./Ph.D.
N.C. A&T is the country’s largest public Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and the largest producer of Black undergrads in both engineering and agriculture, as well as Black masters graduates in mathematics and statistics.
Learn With Us
- Reflections on a Career in Leadership
Mark Becker, Georgia State University
- New Institutions for New Outcomes
Michael Crow, Arizona State University
- Innovating Together: Results from the University Innovation Alliance
We know your time is limited. That's why each issue, we'll choose THE BEST things we watched, listened to, or read.
- Creating an Inclusive Campus: A Conversation With Kristen Renn, Professor of Higher Education and Associate Dean, Michigan State University (UIA)
- OPINION: Higher Education needs to get comfortable with trial and error(Hechinger Report)
- The Edge: What 11 Colleges Leading the Student-Success Movement Have Learned(The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Events to Put on Your Radar
Stuff we LOVE
You know that 2pm slump when it’s hard to keep going and coffee seems weird to drink that late in the day? Two solutions that help us:
- Verb Bars (these are 60 calories, organic wholesome ingredients… but most importantly they have the caffeine equivalent of a shot of espresso (from green tea) in them.
- Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee: One time we were working on a deadline as a team and Bridget busted out “mushroom coffee” packets. It sounded gross, but people were intrigued. She shared a small sample with everyone, and within fifteen minutes the entire room was silent as we were in hyper focus mode typing away on our laptops. Fair Warning: only use it when you really want to focus on something!
A Final Note
This timeless quote by UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski from his recent Weekly Wisdom episode provides a valuable lesson we can learn from our students.
"There's something about the student experience that I think we should always keep with us, and that is the idea of discovering that which has not been known before, the idea of not knowing where you're going. You just take that leap of faith, and it's that emphasis on the student life experience that can inspire us all. We need not forget that." - Freeman Hrabowski