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Executive Director’s Note

Hi everyone, I’m passing the pen this month to my colleague Alcioné Frederick to share what we have learned from our Powered by Publics Equity Roundtables. Enjoy! – Julia Michaels, Executive Director and Associate Vice President, Center for Public University Transformation.

By Alcioné Frederick

Having students’ experiences reflected in institutional policies and procedures is key to achieving equity. That’s why Powered by Publics partnered with 20 institutions to convene students, administrators, and alumni to identify barriers to college access, success, and career pathways that students from underrepresented backgrounds face.

Image of equity framework graphicUtilizing our equity framework and the principles of conversational leadership, the roundtables were intentionally designed to provide member institutions a collaborative space and place to center student voices in their efforts to advance student success. The roundtable format provided a creative, conversational architecture by: asking critical questions, using trauma-informed facilitation to maintain psychological and emotional safety, building trust, equalizing power dynamics, and utilizing student-led reflections to capture the collective wisdom of the students and alumni within and across member institutions.

Hosted by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, the University of Texas at Arlington and engaging students, administrators, and alumni from 20 institutions, the roundtables provided critical insights into the student experience and how institutions can better address students’ needs through institutional policies.

I encourage you to review the full report and watch the accompanying webinar, which featured students and administrators. Some key student-identified insights from the report include:

  • Institutions had resources for students to take advantage of, but those students bore most of the responsibility for finding these resources and establishing a comprehensive support system for themselves.
  • Traditional hours of operation for student support services create barriers to access for non-traditional students who may commute, be enrolled part-time, and take evening classes.
  • Finances continue to be a significant barrier to college access and student success.
  • Orientation and transition programs did not sufficiently reach every type of student, suggesting a need for more targeted supports.
  • Students often experience student support services as siloed.
  • Career services often focuses attention on traditional and STEM students, which may disadvantage non-traditional students as well as those studying social sciences and the humanities.

Crucially, the work has not ended with the roundtables we hosted in 2022. APLU is creating an equity roundtable guidebook to provide public research universities with a framework for engaging students, administrators, alumni, faculty, and staff in meaningful dialogues around these issues. We’ll be releasing the guide in the New Year and we hope you’ll find this resource valuable in sparking dialogue on your own campuses.

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