Equity initiatives only work if university leaders are on board. At least that’s the principle behind the Racial Equity Leadership Academy, a new program announced at the opening plenary of the 16th annual Achieving the Dream conference on Tuesday.
Achieving the Dream, a non-profit focused on higher education reform, partnered with the University of Southern California (USC) Race and Equity Center to create an intensive three-day institute for community college leaders with funding from the Kresge Foundation.
Dr. Karen A. Stout
Dr. Shaun Harper, executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, expressed “tremendous excitement and optimism” for the leadership academy as a “substantive, multidimensional strategy to improve racial equity at community colleges.”
“I am confident that numerous instructive and inspiring models of excellence will emerge from our collaboration,” he said in a statement.
This July, 40 people from ten selected colleges will gather in Los Angeles, California to work through a curriculum of eight modules designed to give them a foundational understanding of racial equity with an emphasis on topics that benefit from thorough, face-to-face discussions.
At the end of the three days, leaders will develop one central project to institute on their campuses, which can range from diversifying the faculty to tackling campus climate problems to boosting transfer rates for minority students.
Over the course of the year, participants will work on bringing their campus-specific equity goals to fruition, with monthly virtual meetings with Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center coaches for guidance. At the next Achieving the Dream conference – which will take place in Orlando, Florida in February 2021 – each school will present on its progress.
The Racial Equity Leadership Academy is intended to engage different kinds of campus leaders, requiring each school to participate in teams of four comprised of the president or chancellor, a faculty member, a cabinet-level student affairs officer or diversity officer and a senior academic leader, like a provost or vice provost.
For Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Ac
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