President Maimon Addresses Association of American Colleges and Universities Conference
In her keynote address at the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) Centennial Forum, GSU President Elaine P. Maimon asked the audience what it will take to braid equity and quality together in U. S. Higher Education. Her own answer? It will take vision and action.
The May 29 forum, “Bringing Quality and Equity Together, How Higher Education Leaders—Together—Are Tackling the Deepening Equity Divides,” brought “educational, policy, and civic leaders together to examine the learning all college students need to thrive in a knowledge economy.” Participants explored emerging evidence on “what works” in supporting higher levels of underserved students.
President Maimon told attendees that to provide maximum benefits to underserved students, universities should reflect on what was done successfully in the past, employ proven and successful methods such as high-impact practices and writing across the curriculum today, and strive to emphasize foundational skills in problem-solving and communication in the future.
In the past, she said, vision and actions such as the G.I. Bill and the community college movement greatly expanded opportunities for equity and quality in higher education. But, “We are certainly losing ground when the highest achieving, lowest income students are less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than the lowest achieving, highest income student.”
President Maimon told the audience how GSU is currently connecting the quality and equity chasm through its Dual Degree Program (DDP).
Noting that Moraine Valley Community College President Sylvia Jenkins spoke about the DDP in an earlier forum session, President Maimon said, “I’m particularly proud of what Sylvia Jenkins described as the ‘guided pathway’ of our Dual Degree Program. Moraine Valley is one of 17 community colleges partnered with Governors State University, with the goal of lighting the way for first generation students.”
In her conclusion, President Maimon said universities must continue to employ vision and action to benefit future generations of students. “We cannot abandon lower income students to technology-based instruction leading only to first jobs. We must braid quality and equity together, and we must commit ourselves to doing it now,” she said.
GSU Provost Deborah Bordelon presented at the forum in a session called “How Can General Education—Vertical and/or Inverted Become an Empowering Pathway for Deeper Learning and Underserved Student Success?”
Dr. Bordelon spoke about GSU’s two guided pathways: our innovative freshman cohort program and the DDP, along with the Center for the Junior Year, which will bring together students who have followed different pathways—either starting college at GSU or transferring in – and will provide intensive mentoring and advising on choosing a major and transitioning to the junior year experience.
AAC&U President Schneider spoke enthusiastically about the Forum, noting “I myself have learned a huge amount from talking to leaders on this topic and listening to faculty, staff, and students on these issues. Elaine Maimon, for example, gave a wonderful synthesizing talk in Chicago that helped listeners think systemically about using learning to drive increased equity. It was great to see how she and many other leaders are incorporating LEAP in their own campus priorities, she said.