University Park, IL,
17:19 PM

Conversation with George Kuh

In a preview of next year's 2019 Summer Institute, educators from across the country recently gathered at Governors State University (GSU) to study our Dual Degree Program, a nationally recognized model.

George D. Kuh, Founding Director, Senior Scholar, and Co-principal Investigator at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, headlined the community learning event. GSU President Elaine P. Maimon co-presented.

“We’re here today to illuminate the pathway to universities from community colleges,’’ said President Maimon. “One of our Dual Degree Program students said in an interview that before the program, she felt like she was on a long, winding, dark road without a flashlight. So this really is a flashlight project.’’

Drawn to the light were more than 70 administrators and educators from 18 advocacy groups, colleges, and universities who traveled from as far as California to hear from Kuh.  He engaged guests in a presentation style modeled after the television series, “Inside the Actors Studio.”

Among the institutions represented were nine of GSU’s community college partners who form the foundation of the Dual Degree Program, first funded by The Kresge Foundation, in 2011. In 2016, Kresge awarded GSU an additional $450,000 to disseminate the program nationally and to expand the Male Success Initiative (DDP-MSI).

Leaders from Northern Arizona University and its partner Maricopa Community College participated in the event—as did administrators from University of California, Santa Cruz, and Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

“People came from all over the country to learn about the DDP from us,’’ said President Maimon.

In the interactive presentation, Kuh reminded educators of the key principles for success outlined in his popular books. He encouraged leaders to always be “positively restless,” improving policies and systems while also using data judiciously to impact student success. “We should be collecting data on what we value. Not everything that can be measured should be,’’ he told the group.

There were questions for Kuh, as well.

“What does it take for institutions to be student ready?’’ asked Sam Dosumu, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at Maricopa Community College. He noted the changing demographics of students enrolling. “For years, we’ve been looking at how to get our students ready but now traditional students are the minority, so to speak.”

Kuh reflected on the growing number of non-academic related issues that create challenges for students such as homelessness and hunger on campus and deferred to a national agenda. “I can imagine a world where priorities are different.’’

The first in his family to attend college, Kuh studied at Luther College, where in his senior year he had an impromptu conversation with a professor who encouraged him to attend graduate school—a notion Kuh had never entertained.

Years later, as Kuh was completing his master’s degree, he saw the professor and reminded him of the exchange years earlier. The professor didn’t remember encouraging young Kuh.

Still, he told the group gathered at GSU, it was a “culminating moment’’ that clarified the magnitude of student engagement at all levels of the university.

“From the Bursar’s office to the Registrar, we all have the power to open up a crack that a student has never contemplated or to slam the door shut. Take advantage.”

See you next year at the Summer Institute!