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Inaugural Symposium


“America’s Unmet Promise — The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education”
Friday, October 30, 2015
Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music
Ronald A. Crutcher, President, University of Richmond, Moderator

This symposium took its title from a report published in January 2015 by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. In “America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education,” authors Keith Witham, Lindsey E. Malcom-Piqueux, Alicia C. Dowd, and Estela Mara Bensimon make the case for the urgent need to expand access to and success in high-quality educational programs for students traditionally underserved in higher education. Considerations include traditional measures like college completion; important indicators of educational opportunity like participation in high-impact educational practices; and principles for evaluating equity and advancing institutional change, with a specific focus on improving outcomes for students affected by stratification in educational opportunity by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

University faculty, staff, and students may access the report electronically via the Boatwright Memorial Library collection.


Panel Participants

Estela Mara Bensimon is a professor of higher education and co-director of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Her current research focuses on issues of racial equity in higher education from the perspective of organizational learning and sociocultural practice theories. She is particularly interested in place-based, practitioner-driven inquiry as a means of organizational change in higher education. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation to study Latina and Latino students in higher education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation to complete system-level work on college completion in Colorado, and the Teagle Foundation to examine the expanding role of private institutions in transfer pathways.

Lani Guinier is the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at the Harvard Law School. Before her Harvard appointment, she was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was a faculty member for 10 years. Professor Guinier served in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and led the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s. She is the author of The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America. In her scholarly writings and op-ed pieces, she has addressed issues of race, gender, and democratic decision making, and sought new ways of approaching questions such as affirmative action while calling for candid public discourse on these topics.

Carol Geary Schneider is president of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the leading national organization devoted to advancing and strengthening undergraduate liberal education. Under her leadership, AAC&U has become widely recognized as a voice and force for strengthening the quality of student learning and expanding the benefits of liberal education across the entire curriculum for all students, especially those historically underserved in U.S. higher education. As president of AAC&U, she has led the development of LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise), a far-reaching effort to adapt the liberal arts tradition to 21st-century contexts and to help higher education make excellence inclusive, rather than exclusive. In 2013, Diverse magazine honored her as one of its “25 Leading Women in Higher Education.”

Ronald A. Crutcher (moderator) is a national leader in higher education, a distinguished classical musician, and the 10th president of the University of Richmond, one of the few institutions in the country that is both need-blind in admission decisions for domestic undergraduate students and committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of admitted students. Dr. Crutcher has actively promoted access, affordability, diversity, and inclusivity throughout his career. He serves on the board of the Posse Foundation, a comprehensive college access and youth leadership development program for public high school students, has served on the boards of the American Council on Education and the Fulbright Association, and was chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. He is founding co-chair of Liberal Education and America’s Promise, the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ national campaign to demonstrate the value of liberal education.