Public research universities located in urban centers play a crucial role anchoring the community, fostering neighborhood and economic development of their cities, as well as advancing the health, education and wellbeing of city residents. APLU has partnered with the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), an independent, president-led organization leveraging the intellectual capital and economic power of urban universities, to create the Office of Urban Initiatives lead by Shari Garmise, Ph.D.
The Office of Urban Initiatives' work starts with student success. USU supports a set of institutions that plan and implement groundbreaking reforms to facilitate student success, boost degree completion, and revitalize their communities in the process. Student success reforms are particularly focused on recruiting, admitting, retaining, educating, and graduating high‐need, traditionally at‐risk students while reducing costs, reexamining campus business models, and fostering mutually beneficial campus‐community engagements.
APLU and USU also help institutions transform their communities through partnerships. Guided by the belief that public urban universities are anchors in their regions, USU undertakes a variety of efforts to build a skilled workforce, drive robust economic growth, address inequities, and enhance community sustainability. To achieve these aims, USU institutions partner with key stakeholders in their communities such as K‐12 systems, local businesses, health systems, workforce organizations, community organizations and philanthropic foundations.
The Coalition of Urban Serving University's University-Community Partnerships work to advance student success, degree completion, and community transformation. Institutions awarded grants supporting this work undertake a variety of nascent reforms touching virtually every aspect of the student experience to establish the environment necessary for students to thrive.
In an effort to ensure cash‐strapped students with a proven record of academic success do not drop out due to financial need, some pathbreaking public universities are offering completion grants of a few hundred dollars to help students make tuition payments as they near graduation. APLU and USU are now building on this work by undertaking a rigorous empirical review of completion grants’ efficacy.
APLU and USU are working with public universities to research, develop, and test new, scalable university business models that boost student learning and degree completion. These transformations are aimed at establishing a comprehensive playbook for overhauling how students progress through college. USU shares the practices and findings identified through this work with APLU members to help better serve their students.
Diversifying the workforce starts with college admissions. That’s why APLU, USU, and other organizations led a landmark study of holistic review in admissions to assess the state of holistic admissions practices across health profession schools and examine the impact of those practices on diversity, student success, and community engagement. USU's research outlines various admissions practices that can be adopted to improve diversity in health disciplines.
Having a diverse faculty creates a campus climate of inclusion, enriches the learning environment, and increases community engagement. Faculty cluster hiring involves hiring groups of faculty around an interdisciplinary research topic. Institutions often use cluster hiring to boost diversity in high-need disciplines. The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and APLU joined with partner organizations to survey the landscape of cluster hiring programs and results across a diverse set of institutions.
Diversity in the biomedical sciences improves research outcomes, advances new cures and treatments, and aids recruitment of diverse patient populations for clinical trials. Yet there are few evidence‐based strategies for improving diversity within STEM and biomedical science doctoral programs. The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and APLU are working with a set of partners to change that.
To help college and university leaders implement new systems for redesigning advising and supporting students across their campuses, APLU developed an online course: A SMART Approach to Student Success: Strategic Management of Advising Reform and Technology.
Economic Development & Engagement
Education for employment upon graduation is important, but a four-year degree should also put graduates in a better position to adapt as employment requirements change throughout their careers.