Kentucky College Boards Focus on Role of Equity in Student Success

Sep 21, 2022 at 10:16 am
Students walk in front of Seminary Hall on the Jefferson Community & Technical College downtown campus.
Students walk in front of Seminary Hall on the Jefferson Community & Technical College downtown campus. Photo by Brian Bohannon.

Colleges and universities in Kentucky are looking at new ways to address the equity gap among their students, through specialized training for their governing boards.

President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Aaron Thompson explained that college governing boards are in a position to help increase student success, especially for people who come from historically marginalized communities.

"This relationship is about what data to use, how you use it, bringing people together," said Thompson. "It's an ability to create a whole new way of thinking about board training."

Thompson added that measures adopted during the pandemic are expected to help ease the financial burden for students.

According to data from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, last year nearly all schools voted not to increase their tuition or fees from the previous year - due in large part to the pandemic.

The state also launched a campaign to encourage students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms for federal and state financial aid.

Thompson said higher education institutions in the Commonwealth will benefit from lessons learned about policies and practices that can help level the playing field for students from diverse backgrounds.

"We've got several of our campuses with our boards involved," said Thompson. "And we're looking at it from our two-year campuses and our four-year campuses, making sure that we're providing that research."

Thompson says he hopes the trainings provide boards with the tools needed to foster better communication with current and prospective students - which, in turn, should increase enrollment.

"Boards can get involved in helping their students to know there's a greater outcome here," said Thompson. "You are getting some lifelong learning while you're in college."

The statewide training is a collaboration between the Association of Governing Boards and the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.

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