Tool 10 - Taking a Stand: Higher Education Leadership for the 21st Century

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The Issue

The successful development and implementation of access and diversity policies depend on many interrelated factors, none of which is more important than the strength of the institutional leadership at the helm.

Leader’s Checklist

Five fundamental foundations indicative of effective leadership relating to institution-specific access and diversitygoals are:

  • Enrolling and educating a diverse class of students is central to the institution’s educational mission.
  • Policy statements that articulate the precise benefits associated with a diverse student body, including with respect to race and ethnicity are developed and effectively implemented.
  • A well-managed, annual process for evaluating institutional access and diversity goals, as well as the ways in which institutional policies are designed (and actually work) to achieve those goals, is firmly in place.
  • In cases where those policies reflect consideration of race or ethnicity when making enrollment-related decisions (such as selection in admission and awarding scholarships), the institution ensures that:
    • The consideration of race and ethnicity is demonstrably necessary to achieve its access and diversity goals.
    • The consideration of race and ethnicity materially advances the achievement of its access and diversity goals.
  • Institutional leaders, policymakers and faculty members are equipped to talk to internal and external stakeholders about the importance of access and diversity to their institution’s core goals.

On the Record: Higher Education’s Mission

"[A] university ... must attempt to interpret the times in which it lives in order to meet the developing needs of the society which it serves. ... [I]t must be a comprehending observer of the present and, in so far as possible, a vehicle of understanding for the future. This is the great social mission of education in a free society. In the language of Disraeli, 'A university should be a place of light, of liberty and of learning.'"

James P. Adams, University of Michigan Provost, June 1950 speech, quoted in Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan (University of Michigan Press, 2004)

Selected Resources

  1. Coleman, Palmer, Rippner and Riley, A 21st-Century Imperative: Promoting Access and Diversity in Higher Education, (The College Board and American Council on Education, 2009).
  2. Kezar and Eckel, Leadership Strategies for Advancing Campus Diversity (American Council on Education, 2005).
  3. Williams and Wade-Golden, The Chief Diversity Officer: A Primer for College and University Presidents (American Council on Education, 2007).