NAICU Washington Update

Education Secretary Cardona Hosts Summit on College Excellence and Equity

August 19, 2022

College leaders gathered last week in Washington for a summit to hear Education Secretary Miguel Cardona lay out a vision for higher education.  The gathering, Raise the B.A.R. (Bold Action and Results), focused on how to increase student success as well as the many challenges students face to complete college.

Among the more interesting themes at the meeting was the focus on institutions that serve high proportions of at-risk students.  The event recognized the work these institutions do to improve the lives of many first-generation students but also the resource challenges they and their students face.  The summit also focused on challenges students face that are not captured in data—signaling that federal policy conversations may include a more holistic approach to students than in the recent past when data was the dominant driver of policy conversations.  

About 60 leaders attended the summit, including NAICU member presidents: Patricia McGuire of Trinity Washington University, Reynold Verret of Xavier University of Louisiana, Devorah Leiberman of The University of La Verne (CA), Carol Quillan, former president of Davidson College (NC), and Academic Dean Illana Lane of Holy Family University (PA).  Shaun Harper, university professor and founder and executive director of the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California, gave an engaging presentation on the challenges colleges face with diversity, equity and inclusion.  Sarah Flanagan, NAICU vice president of government relations and policy development, also participated in the summit.  

Spearheaded by Education Secretary Cardona, the summit included other Education Department and White House officials.  Attendees were asked to pledge to take follow-up steps related to excellence and equity on their own campuses and to work collaboratively with attendees, as well as the broader higher education community, to develop partnerships that could reduce higher education competition among campuses.

The Department also announced a modestly funded college completion grant program in conjunction with the summit.  The program will provide under-resourced institutions that have a high enrollment of low-income, minority, or at-risk students with grants to deliver support and interventions to help students complete their education.  Institutions must be eligible for Title III or V of the HEA to apply.

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