News & Media

Executive Director’s Note

By Julia Michaels

Welcome back (for many of you) from Spring Break! As the weather finally begins to warm, many of your institutions have been working extra hard to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. Whether you’re welcoming students back to campus, or offering non-instructional days in lieu of a break, there are still many challenges to overcome in supporting the physical and mental health of your campus community. Several Powered by Publics clusters are holding discussions on student wellness (including the vaccine rollout) during this critical time, and our monthly cluster calls remain a powerful forum for peer learning. We’ll continue to facilitate these conversations and look forward to sharing out lessons learned in the coming months.

(How can you stay on top of what students want and need? Check out what Tennessee State University has done with their student survey data)

Yet Powered by Publics also remains focused on its long-term vision: student-centered institutional transformation. This month, APLU was very pleased to announce investment in 16 Powered by Publics institutions to build capacity for student success. Over the next year and a half, these institutions will undertake a needs assessment, share key data, and receive targeted supports in critical capacity areas including advising, digital learning, and college readiness. As their work progresses, the institutions will share what they’re learning with the Powered by Publics community.

We’re also ramping up our efforts to create spaces for cross-cluster learning. Last week, we held a fantastic virtual convening in partnership with the TIAA Institute as part of our “affordability learning hub” The convening featured nine institutions from four different clusters: Southern Central (Cluster 3), Urban (Cluster 6), Metropolitan (Cluster 7), and High-Pell (Cluster 11). If you weren’t able to join us last week, I encourage you to check out the recording of our peer-led session on financial aid innovations for affordability and reducing student debt as well as a reflective discussion on the future of financial aid post-pandemic. Supporting the convening are two research briefs, co-published by APLU and the TIAA Institute, on the pandemic, college affordability, and student debt, and lessons learned from distribution of CARES Act emergency aid funding.

(What are the learning hubs? Check out our brief slide deck on 2021 objectives for Powered by Publics)

Our next cross-cluster learning opportunity, through the “holistic student supports learning hub,” will be focused on advising and co-led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and the University of Louisville. Prospective participants who complete a brief survey on proactive advising will be invited to participate in a free workshop on building financial confidence in students through coaching-based advising. This opportunity will be geared toward front-line advising practitioners and is open to all Powered by Publics members.

Last but certainly not least, I invite you all to check out the latest Powered by Publics learning memo from the Big 10 cluster: The Big Ten Academic Alliance Cluster is Exploring Foundational Course DFW Rates, Equity Gaps, and Progress to Degree. The Big 10 cluster has been working diligently over the past two years to collect data on DFW rates, assess equity gaps in common gateway courses, and identify factors that can improve course success rates.

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter and thank you again for your continued support and engagement in Powered by Publics!

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