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Courtesy of the University of Florida
Our Work

Frontier Set

  • The Frontier Set is a select group of high-performing, high-potential colleges, universities, state systems and partnering organizations committed to eliminating race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success by transforming how institutions operate.
     
  • Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the Frontier Set aims to understand how to successfully advance transformational change amid senior leadership transitions, institutional mergers, and performance-based state funding models.
     
  • Three APLU and USU universities present separate, unique case studies to understand transformational change frameworks through different institutional contexts.

Advancing Equity and University Transformation During Major Changes

Frontier Set Two-Pager Public urban research universities continue to face a host of challenging inflection points, from senior leadership transitions to mergers to shifts to performance-based state funding, to name just a few. How institutions can continue to advance institutional transformation during these pivotal moments is critical to their long-term success in achieving equity and increasing student success. 

To help institutions successfully navigate these challenges and ultimately thrive, APLU and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) worked with Florida International University, Georgia State University, and Portland State University as part of the Frontier Set initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to understand how to successfully advance transformational change amid senior leadership transitions, institutional mergers, and performance-based state funding models. APLU and USU are releasing in-depth case studies as roadmaps with insights to help other institutions address these shifts.

Essentials of Institutional Transformation: Case Studies

  • Growth Amid a University Merger
    GSU Case StudyGeorgia State University Case Study
    How does an institutional merger affect transformational change? These are only a handful of examples that speak to a broader trend in higher education—a movement to merge institutions, particularly those that are resource constrained and/or underperforming, in an effort to improve student success rates and to contain costs. Consolidation of two or more institutions—with distinct cultures, mindsets, resources, and students—inevitably impacts the pace and strategies deployed in institutional transformation.
     
  • Remaining Resilient through Leadership Transition
    PSU Case StudyPortland State University Case Study
    How does senior leadership transition(s) effect transformational change? Leadership stands as one of the core functional capacities that drives and informs transformational change. Senior leaders set a tone and vision for student success and accordingly wield considerable influence on how other functional capacities work together to achieve institutional goals. Yet, unlike other core capacities, leadership often serves as the greatest risk to stalling or slowing change as a result of turnover.
     
  • Advancing Equity and Excellence Through a State Performance-Based Funding Model
    FIU Case StudyFlorida International University Case Study
    How does state performance-based funding effect transformational change? More than half of states use some form of performance-based funding in their policy and decision-making process with respect to allocating resources to higher education institutions. The state of Florida reported across the board gains in graduation rates among public institutions over the course of five years as a result of their initial performance-based funding formula.
     

About the Frontier Set & the Journey of University Transformation

The Frontier Set is a select group of high-performing, high-potential colleges, universities, state systems and partnering organizations committed to eliminating race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success by transforming how institutions operate. Through strategic and tactical efforts, the Frontier Set participating universities and partnering organizations explored the why and how of institutional transformation. The three APLU and USU universities present separate, unique case studies to understand transformational change frameworks through different institutional contexts.

Collectively, the content of the three university case studies highlight the integral role of leveraging current practices while developing and expanding on new methods to meet the needs of students, staff, and faculty. The university case studies contribute knowledge on institutional transformation to the field with a specific focus on:

  1. highlighting how tailored support on advising, digital learning, faculty engagement, course redesign and other critical elements can enable post-secondary institutions to systematize and scale student success efforts; and
     
  2. building a knowledge base on transformational change across different institutional context as the case study topics apply to all institutions.

Stay tuned for an upcoming launch of the open-access course in late May/early June

In addition to the three case studies, APLU and USU are developing an open-access course module based on the content of the case studies and its institutional transformation experiences. The modules will be grounded in change management, student experience, and the utilization of strategic foresight. This additional knowledge dissemination method will contribute to the institutional commitment to increasing student success and addressing opportunity and attainment equity gaps via a culture of innovation and transformation that is of value for the field. 

Additional Resources