Access & Diversity Collaborative


The Quarterly Newsletter of the
Access & Diversity Collaborative


January - March 2018



Each quarter, the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC) will publish a newsletter to inform ADC sponsors on federal policy updates and national news. The newsletter will also feature insights and reflections on a topic of interest from a selected sponsor, and updates on ADC publications and events. We invite sponsors to submit their own updates for inclusion.
In this edition:

Section 1: The Federal Frontlines provides updates on recent federal government developments on enrollment-related topics, as well as on issues of student inclusion and expression.

Section 2: National News shares brief summaries and links to relevant articles. This quarter's newsletter includes articles on the value of higher education, admissions practices, free speech on campus, and Title IX. 

Section 3: Quarterly Insight features a brief discussion of the shifting student engagement landscape on college campuses. This month’s insight is from Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis Keith who discuss the impact of these changes on the role of higher education enrollment leaders. 

Section 4: Sponsor Spotlight highlights ADC member practices that exemplify active engagement in the work of the ADC. This quarter features the work of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the SEA Change Initiative; and the Association of American Colleges & Universities' upcoming webinar and report on A Vision for Equity.

Section 5: ADC in Action includes recent and upcoming ADC events and publications.



Section 1:
The Federal Frontlines


U.S. Department of Education
New Report on First-Generation Student Postsecondary Outcomes. On February 8, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published “First-Generation Students: College Access, Persistence, and Postbachelor’s Outcomes.”
U.S. Department of Justice
Free Speech-Campus Speakers. On January 25, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Statement of Interest in Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans v. Janet Napolitano, a free speech case in California in which the plaintiffs allege that UC Berkeley limited their free speech. On the same day, DOJ Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand published an op-ed on free speech on college campuses.
Federal Courts
Admissions. Litigation over race as a factor in holistic review continues. Students for Fair Admissions, representing Asian students with high grades and test scores who were denied admission to Harvard University  and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), are suing the universities in separate suits in their federal district (trial) courts. Complaints in both cases claim racial discrimination against more qualified Asian applicants in order to admit black, Hispanic, and white students, in violation of federal law. On April 4, the New York Times published an article with updates in the Harvard University case, including a demand from the plaintiffs that Harvard’s admissions data be released publicly.
Hateful Speech. Hate crimes are reported to be on the rise, and hate speech can be protected as speech. Against this backdrop, campuses are striving to harmonize two fundamental principles of excellence in higher education: (1) free speech inherent in academic freedom policies (which are protected by the First Amendment at public institutions); and (2) a welcoming and inclusive, robustly diverse community. First Amendment developments in the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts’ term are highlighted in this article. Notable recent U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment cases include the following:

  • Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission No. 16-111, asks the court to decide whether a bakery can be compelled by nondiscrimination law to make a wedding cake for a gay couple when its proprietor asserts protection of First Amendment expressive rights against compelled speech because the cake is his artistic expression and his religious beliefs oppose gay marriage. This article discusses the oral arguments heard in December 2017 and the potential impact of possible outcomes.
  • Matal v. Tam No. 15-1293 (June 19, 2017), in which the Court used the First Amendment to invalidate the Lanham Act’s “disparagement clause” and reject the U.S. trademark office’s denial of registration of a rock group’s name, “the Slants,” as a derogatory, highly offensive name for Asians.  The clause had allowed denial of trademark registration if a mark would “disparage…or bring…into contemp[t] or disrepute [any] persons, living or dead.”  



Section 2:
National News


Value of Higher Education. On March 19, Morning Consult and The New York Times released results from a survey of parents with children under 18 focusing on perceptions and value of higher education.

Admissions—Practices. In response to a January 31 the Wall Street Journal article titled “Some Elite Colleges Review an Application in 8 Minutes (or Less)”the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article titled “Reading an Application in Under 10 Minutes? Way Too Fast, One Admissions Dean Says.” Jonathan Burdick, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Rochester raises concerns and shares some of the University of Rochester’s application review practices.

Admissions—Legacies. The Atlantic article, “A New Call to End Legacy Admissions,” discusses the actions taken on February 14 by student groups at 13 colleges to protest privileges given to applicants who have relatives who are alumni of the institution. The article also highlights student concerns about the lack of transparency in the admissions process and the tenuous relationship between scholarship donations from wealthy alumni that support low-income students and legacy admissions.

Admissions—Transgender Students.  In a March 16 article titled “‘What It Means to Be a Woman Is Not Static’: How Women’s Colleges Are Handling Transgender Applicants,” the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the ways that some women’s colleges are changing their admissions policies to include transgender students who self-identify as women. The article also discusses how institutions are considering transgender applicants who self-identify as men.

Admissions—Yield. In a February 18 article titled “You Can Help Make Sure Freshmen Show Up. Here’s How.” the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the challenge of summer melt and features Georgia State University’s new chatbot that aims to mitigate the causes of summer melt.

Admissions—#NeverAgain Colleges. Following the tragic Parkland, FL high school shooting the ongoing student-led protests, a number of higher education institutions publicly assured students who participate that disciplinary action resulting from non-violent protest will not negatively impact admissions decisions. This group of schools has become known as the #NeverAgain Colleges.

Free Speech Poll. On March 12, a New York Times article titled “What Students Really Think About Free Speech features the results of a poll on students’ perceptions of free expression on college campuses conducted by the Gallup Knight Foundation, the American Council on Education, the Charles Koch Institute, and the Stanton Foundation. (At its recent annual convening, ACE also held a series of panels that focused on several facets of expression and inclusion on college campus.)

Title IX—Campus Sexual Assault. On January 17, The Atlantic featured the article “How Colleges Foretold the #MeToo Movement.” This piece discusses the rising number of Title IX sexual assault complaints on college campuses, how campus responses have changed since the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter Title IX established campus sexual assault guidelines, and the impact of Secretary DeVos’ decision to withdraw these guidelines.



Section 3: 
Quarterly Insight


Toward Better Understanding—and More Informed Action

Art Coleman
Jamie Lewis Keith 

In our quest to ensure that the promise of higher education is real for all students and society, education and policy leaders have worked for decades to understand issues of access, opportunity, and inclusion affecting students and to appropriately act on them. While our aims are shared, they continue to be touchpoints of controversy.  Whether a debate on funding or policy design (or both), we continue to hear familiar refrains around the value of education, affordability, access, student diversity and success, free speech and inclusion. But that resonance should not mask the moment of profound change that we in higher education are experiencing. And it must not lull us into a sense of complacency where “more of the same” defines the day.   
Context matters. Many consequential, intersecting shifts in the relevant national and global landscape—and at our institutions—reflect a new state of affairs that has implications for all involved in enrollment policy and practice.
Our historical exclusive focus in admission on numbers and yields (perceived or real) has given way to a more substantive and nuanced focus on issues surrounding the student experience and the learning, civic, and workforce outcomes associated with that experience.
One facet of that landscape is the centrality of student voice—increasingly recognized as an essential element in policy development and institutional action. The protest movements we’ve witnessed over the past several years have students engaging in political action to drive social justice (Black Lives Matter; #MeToo; March for Our Lives). These movements and the students behind them are not only teaching the older generations a thing or two about the power of the internet as an organizing and amplifying tool, but, and when most effective, importantly raise awareness and ignite much-needed meaningful debate on complex issues and actions.
Indeed, in this shifting landscape, we must not ignore the transformation that is broadly underway due to the world wide web. As college leaders addressing issues of controversy know too well, complex issues that were largely self-contained in the past, are now subject to immediate interpretation and public comment, sometimes at a global scale. In short, the college campus community is no longer just local.  It reaches all corners of the globe—in an instant.
Taken together, what does all of this mean?  Perhaps, most obviously, the job of higher education leaders is infinitely harder than in the past.  Enrollment leaders and officials in fact are often “ground zero”  on matters of consequence as issues of equity—access, opportunity, inclusion—and success define the life trajectories of students in an information age that requires education beyond high school. 
Thus, we must constantly assess our roles and how we connect with colleagues, students, and the public to advance the goals that brought us to this work in the first place. That means stepping back (and evaluating), just as it means stepping forward (with action). Indeed, if we’re going to get it right, we can’t just rely on a strong admissions policy, or even a strategic relationship among all in enrollment capacities, to carry the day. In the end, our students’ success depends on a team of institutional leaders who regularly come together with students to chart directions, discuss challenges, and learn from each other—and who engage stakeholders to build relationships, raise awareness and understanding, and perpetuate intelligent evidence-based consideration of issues before they give rise to crises. In short, we must tirelessly focus on making the right connections within our institutions, and with others in this sea of change. Only by understanding and valuing each other in very challenging times, can we hope to fulfill the promise that higher education holds for all students and society.



Section 4:
Sponsor Spotlight


Metrics Drive Diversity and Inclusion. In January, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced the STEM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change initiative. SEA Change—a LEED-like certification program, now in a “bronze certification” pilot—provides high level principles and performance standards to remove systemic, structural barriers at the institutional and departmental levels for women, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people with disabilities to pursue, and to persist and succeed in, STEM and Medical (STEMM) higher education and academic careers. It is designed to be easily adaptable institution-wide, to support good and efficient policy-making and legal compliance, and to foster transformative advances in diversity, equity and excellence.
Equity for Excellence.  Upcoming: On April 19, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) will hold a webinar titled “A Vision for Equity: Campus-Based Strategies for Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence.” The webinar will share findings from a joint project between AAC&U and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California focusing on equity and inclusion, and from AAC&U’s report titled A Vision for Equity which draws on the experiences of thirteen participating institutions of higher education as they worked to address equity gaps on their campuses.

If you would like your institution/organization to be considered for future Sponsor Spotlights, please send a brief description of your initiative or practice to Emily Webb ([email protected]).



Section 5:
ADC in Action


Recent Publications
In December 2017, the College Board published Building an Evidence Base: Important Foundations for Institutions of Higher Education Advancing Education Goals Associated with Student Diversity.  This evidence guide provides an actionable roadmap -- framing key questions, suggesting key kinds of evidence, and pointing to illustrative sources--that can guide institutional deliberation and action for advancing education goals associated with student diversity.  The guide is a resource for institutions where race is a consideration in enrollment decisions, as well as for institutions where such practices may be prohibited.

Upcoming Events
The ADC will soon be circulating dates for an upcoming webinar.





The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit



EducationCounsel LLC is a recognized leader on issues of education policy, strategy and law as it works to close achievement gaps and improve education outcomes for all.  Education Counsel addresses an array of higher education issues, including those associated with student access; institutional quality; and student/faculty diversity, inclusion, and free expression.  An affiliate of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP,  EducationCounsel helps lead the work of the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative and is responsible for the development of this newsletter.  For more information, please contact Art Coleman, Jamie Lewis Keith, David Dixon, or Emily Webb.

Copyright © 2018 College Board, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.