Friday, 10 December 2021 15:50

SUNY Oswego Selected to Participate in National Initiative to Close Equity Gaps and Create Opportunities

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Pictured at the ribbon-cutting are SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley (second from left) with staff from the Institute and members of the campus community. Pictured at the ribbon-cutting are SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley (second from left) with staff from the Institute and members of the campus community. Submitted photo

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the initiative is designed to help AASCU institutions eliminate race, ethnicity and income as predictors of student success.

SUNY Oswego is one of 15 institutions recently selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to participate in the newly launched Transformation Accelerator Cohort (TAC). The program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is designed to support cohorts of equity driven AASCU institutions who are passionate about closing equity gaps and creating opportunities for the success of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income students.

The project’s overview explains that “AASCU has gathered a cohort of 15 institutions, including two state systems, with the belief that the cohort approach will support institutional and peer-to-peer learning and implementation of efforts that will lead to transformation.” The SUNY Oswego campus community will conduct much of its work in support of the TAC project in alignment with the recently established Institute for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Transformative Practice, which held a Dec. 9 ribbon-cutting to mark the official location of the Institute in the college's Penfield Library.

“Our shared commitment to our students’ well-being is rooted in empowerment and equity, and being selected as part of this program provides a transformative framework for SUNY Oswego to build on our current campus culture of student success,” said President Deborah F. Stanley. “We are primed for equity-driven student success and this program will enable us to utilize data to identify our students’ most critical issues, inform the campus about persistent gaps, and focus pedagogy, policy and resources in ways that will impact the greatest number of students with the greatest needs.”

The initiative recognizes that equity requires fundamentally realigning and reimagining institutional mindsets, practices and policies. Its core concept is that recognizing and addressing structural equality is the only way to ensure that all students who deserve an opportunity can succeed. According to AASCU President Mildred Garcia, the Transformation Accelerator Cohort articulates an equity imperative to help everyone see their role in ensuring success for Black, Latinx, indigenous and low-income students.

“Many efforts paved the way for this honor … for SUNY Oswego to be included in this far-reaching project,” said Scott Furlong, SUNY Oswego’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, who referenced the college’s continued growth in enrolling a more culturally diverse student body year after year. “But we know that as an institution and a society, we still have a way to go. The TAC provides a road map and timeline to make an impact in a deep and lasting way -- to move from transitional change to transformational change.”

The project is based on the five-step TAC Theory of Change that is intentional and interactive:

  1. Prepare: Prepare to engage in a dedicated institutional transformation process to improve equitable student outcomes
  2. Reflect: Gather information and people and reflect on strengths, challenges and opportunities
  3. Prioritize: Identify and prioritize root challenges to student success
  4. Act: Develop and implement strategies to achieve student success priorities
  5. Monitor: Monitor progress and evaluate outcomes of strategies toward achieving success priorities

The TAC cohort will launch their projects this fall as the 15 institutions begin the Prepare phase. The Reflect and Prioritize phases will focus on campus collaboration and cohort discussion from spring into summer 2022. The Act and Monitor phases will stretch from summer 2022 into summer 2023 and allow the participating institutions to strengthen formal and informal continuous improvement practices to sustain transformational processes and celebrate accomplishments to date.

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