The Healey Family Student Center held 10% of participants, while 90% tuned in from across the country; two participating school systems with multiple campuses, Pennsylvania State University and The Ohio State University, served as large, regional hubs. All sessions were coordinated through Zoom.
Category: Fall 2022, Georgetown Magazine

Title:Hybrid institute supports higher education champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Author: Kate Colwell
Date Published: September 27, 2022

In 2019, Georgetown began hosting the Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience, a free conference that supports problem-solving around issues affecting educational equity in higher education and network-building among staff, faculty, and administrators. Since its in-person inception, to fully remote, to the current hybrid model, the institute has tripled its size and national reach. This year, the institute—co-hosted in June by Xavier University and the American Talent Initiative, along with a cohort of leadership sites across the U.S.—drew 59 teams from 44 colleges and universities, totaling 425 attendees, 55 speakers, and 20 coaches.

The institute’s leaders at Georgetown—Susannah McGowan, director of curriculum initiatives at the Red House, Heidi Elmendorf, director of the Hub for Equity and Innovation in Higher Education, Randy Bass, vice president for Strategic Education Initiatives, Adanna Johnson, associate vice president for student equity and inclusion, and Maya Williams, program manager for the Office of Student Equity & Inclusion—credit this growth to accessibility, affordability, and impact.

“We have a lot of returning institutions bringing new projects and new people,” Elmendorf says. “We think from a sustain- ability and equity perspective, the hybrid model supported by a network of leadership sites is one way to go.”

Participants champion effective outcomes for low-income and first-generation underrepresented students. Teams come to the institute with a goal for student success; they refine their plan by exchanging ideas with other schools and engaging in a series of workshops and customized coaching sessions. Each team leaves with an actionable plan.

At one of the institute’s featured roundtables, Rosemary Kilkenny, Georgetown’s vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion and chief diversity officer, and Rosario Ceballo, dean of Georgetown College of Arts & Sciences, spoke on protecting changemakers from burnout and emphasized the importance of collaborating with key stakeholders and beneficiaries of change.

“We’re not going to achieve change overnight,” Kilkenny says. “We have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others and our institutions.”

Ceballo affirmed the importance of recruiting, supporting, and retaining faculty who reflect the diversity of the United States.

“I want our community to understand that excellence in research and teaching is tied to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she says. “Young faculty need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance in order to thrive in academia.”

The institute’s impact has grown with time. Justin Keen, director of assessment and student-centered analytics at the University of Dayton, first attended in 2019 as  participant. By year three, members of the Dayton team planned seven projects to increase graduation rates for students who are eligible for Pell Grants. This year, Keen presented with Drew Allen, associate vice president for institutional data analytics at Georgetown, on data-driven strategies for improving equitable student outcomes.

“This work can be tiring and taxing,” Keen says. “Having a connection to people at other institutions doing this work has really been emotionally affirming.”

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