In January 2022, Thomas More University joined a pilot initiative launched by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute) and the Association of Universities and Colleges Governing Boards (AGB) .
The initiative, called the School Council’s Equity in Student Success Project, is an effort to significantly and equitably improve retention, graduation and employment rates for all students, but especially for those who come from low-income, rural and historically marginalized backgrounds. The initiative hopes to leverage the power of higher education boards to oversee, envision, and drive equity-focused student success transformation with and through senior leadership.
Following a rigorous selection process, the Commonwealth of Kentucky was invited and the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education (CPE) accepted the offer to become a partner in this initiative, opening the door for the participation of Thomas More. Kentucky was chosen as the demonstration site because the Commonwealth met specific criteria, including a student population with high financial need and a large number of rural and BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) students.
The Commonwealth also has a sophisticated process in place for statewide data sharing between public and private institutions. All Kentucky degree-granting institutions (public/private, 2/4 years) have been invited to participate with financial support for the project from a generous grant from Ascendium Education Group, a granting agency committed to helping candidates a diploma to enhance their opportunities for social mobility.
The commitment of Thomas More’s institutional team, made up of executives and board members, is potentially two-part and begins with participation in an academy over the next 2 years that examines policies and practices at board level and become familiar with national pledges. practice in both governance at the school board level and in institutional efforts to improve academic achievement for all students. It is hoped that by enhancing the knowledge and skills of board members of higher education institutions and senior administrators in Kentucky, these critical leaders will strengthen the ability to oversee institutional initiatives that lead to equitable student success. and completion results.
“Thomas More University is pleased to join the first Academy (Student Success) on Board Equity in Student Success,” said Molly Smith, Ph.D., provost at Thomas More. “As part of a team drawn from the Boards of Trustees, Academic Affairs, Student Life and Human Resources, I believe that immersion in strategies to strengthen access and equity in long as commitment at the leadership level will lead to an impactful promotion of diversity, equity, and belonging on campus. I look forward, along with my fellow team members, to engaging with peers on this issue of vital importance to our community, region and nation.
“This is a unique opportunity for Thomas More University at this critical time as we chart the course for our next century,” said Judith A. Marlowe, Ph.D., chair of the board of trustees. . “The guiding principle behind the Academy’s program design intentionally brings together academic governance and operational leadership to strategically focus on equity throughout the student experience. It is an innovative approach that recognizes that this collaboration is essential to achieve meaningful results that support educational success. It is truly an honor to participate in such an innovative project!
The second part of the engagement is the Retention Performance Management – board focus process in which deeper experience, student success and performance improvement is facilitated by the Gardner Institute for a subset of seven institutions involved in the Academy. The retention performance management process engages in a self-study of institution-wide retention data to create and implement a specific evidence-based, equity-focused retention plan to each institution and still requires more than 2 years of work by the institution’s teams. Research results for the entire project will be presented nationally to inform work in other states and regions.
The Board of Trustees’ Equity in Student Success Project was presented in Kentucky at the Board’s Annual Professional Development Conference held virtually on September 14, 2021. Thomas More University was one of the post-secondary institutions recruited last fall and officially invited to join the Academy. in 2022. We look forward to the new knowledge and skills acquired by the Thomas More team as they take full advantage of the Academy part of the project and implement it to achieve greater success not only for our students, but as an example for institutions across the US
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