As the field of higher education continues responding to the catalytic events of 2020, higher education organizations like APLU have gained momentum as critical change agents in the work of institutional transformation at scale.
National collaborations, such as APLU’s Intermediary for Scale (IFS) initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), have yielded critical lessons learned about how organizations can directly contribute to accelerating equitable outcomes for postsecondary student success.
For many colleges, universities, and state systems, the challenge is not what to do but how to do it. As an Intermediary, APLU is well-positioned to liaise with critical funders, partners in the field, and content experts to streamline support and disseminate promising practices to membership networks that are contributing to better outcomes for our nation’s most vulnerable student populations.
APLU has served in an Intermediary role since 2017. In 2020, APLU partnered with a select group of 16 universities from across the Powered by Publics network of clusters to implement evidence-based practices designed to increase equitable student success outcomes and degree completion. Organizing discourse and creating conditions for learning, APLU leveraged a facilitated approach to conduct rigorous institutional needs assessments, collect disaggregated student data, cultivate a peer learning agenda, and broker technical assistance in advising, digital learning, data literacy, strategic finance, equity, and integrating the student voice.
Each intermediary has a unique role to play to meet the needs of its distinct network. However, the following observations are necessary considerations to optimize a structure of support that leads to sustainable change, both for APLU IFS and more universally to any institutional engagement strategy:
- Transformation begins with equity.
- Operationalizing equity as an explicit priority focused on the voice of faculty, staff, and students is critical to defining the institutional experience.
- Transformation takes time.
- Understanding the unique DNA of network institutions, and the students they serve, to structure a comprehensive and integrated engagement model is critical to meeting them where they are, aligning with their priorities, and building a meaningful institutional experience.
- Transformation is an adaptive challenge.
- Providing clear and articulated expectations for engaging cross-functional campus stakeholders is critical to a cohesive institutional experience.
- Transformation requires capacity.
- Building institutional capacity for data literacy and strategic finance is critical to a sustainable institutional experience.
- Transformation isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
- Establishing trusted relationships across campus that catalyze interpersonal connections is critical to the success of the institutional experience.
- University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
- Clemson University
- Illinois State University
- Middle Tennessee State University
- Montana State University
- New Mexico State University
- University of New Orleans
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Ohio University
- Rutgers University-Newark
- University of South Alabama
- Texas Tech University
- Tuskegee University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Western Michigan University
- University of Wyoming