Governors State University has been selected as one of 13 institutions to receive grant funding to develop replicable, equity-focused and campus-based strategies for student success. Our campus project focuses on promoting student success and addressing equity gaps in the junior year of college consistent with the four project goals outlined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

In its third year of the Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence project funded by the Association of American Colleges and University (AAC&U) and the Strada Education Network, our campus project focuses on promoting student success in the junior year of college consistent with the four project goals:

  1. Implement Equity Minded Practices with the goal of closing student success gap of African-American transfer students. In 2014-15, retention from junior year to senior year for junior African-American transfer students was 67% compared to all transfer students at 72%. We aim to increase retention for all students, but also aim to close this gap by 2020 and will continue to disaggregate data to include age, gender, SES and academic program to provide more individualized and equitable retention strategies for all African American transfer students.

  2. Develop and offer quality High-Impact Practices in the junior year of study. Sponsor faculty development workshops to plan and organize high-impact practices in the Junior Seminar and in the junior year of study. Consistent with the GSU strategic plan, Vision 2020, the Junior Seminar enrolls students converging from lower division, dual degree program, and transfer admission into core curriculum in their academic programs, with a focus on equity-minded practices and outcomes.

  3. Create and assess Signature Assignment focusing on Social Responsibility student learning outcome in the junior of study. Develop assignments and corresponding rubrics for the social responsibility learning outcome, which is associated with instruction of the Juniors Seminar. As defined by the General Education Curriculum, Social Responsibility is the development of an awareness of personal and social obligations needed for success in a diverse and global society. Learning outcomes in this area include those related to civic engagement, intercultural knowledge, ethical reasoning, and appreciation for lifelong learning.

  4. Develop Pathways for Internships and Workforce Preparation. Through the Junior Seminar (and other initiatives) increase student understanding of pathways for internship and workforce preparation for junior students converging from lower division, dual degree program, and transfer admission into core curriculum in their academic programs. 


GSU Faculty and Staff Named 2017-18 AAC&U Award Recipients

The work of the GSU Equity Campus Planning Team is funded by a grant to develop replicable, equity-focused, campus-based strategies for student success from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. 

Congratulations to the following faculty and staff members on receiving awards:


  • Equity Campus Planning Team Members


    Dr. Aurélio Manuel Valente, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students 
    Chair and Principle Investigator

    Darcie Campos, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Career Services

    Robert Clay, Director of Intercultural Student Affairs

    Dr. Ned Laff, Director of the Center for the Junior Year

    Roshaunda Ross, Director of New Student Programs and Leadership Development

    Dr. Colleen Sexton, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs

    Dr. Maristela Zell, Professor of Social Work and Director of General Education 

    Dr. Yadi Ziaee, Director for the Center of Online Teaching and Learning

  • Equity Project featured in Peer Review, Spring 2017 Issue


    GSU has a long history of representing and defining best practices, and our faculty and staff have a history of sharing that with the higher ed community. Peer Review, a prestigious academic journal published by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, accepted two articles written by GSU faculty and staff members recently. Both demonstrate the university’s methodological approach to serving students through the highest academic standards.

    Recently published in Peer Review is “Building an Equity-Minded Pathway for Transfer Students”, an article written collaboratively by Dr. Aurélio Manuel Valente, Dr. Alicia L. Battle, and Robert E. Clay. The article explores GSU’s institutional history of serving nontraditional student populations and the ways in which that has guided the university’s strategic plan.

  • GSU Featured in Equity Webinar


    GSU, one of thirteen institutions that participated in a three-year effort to craft campus-based strategies to advance equity in higher education, was selected to contribute to a web-based panel discussion, A Vision for Equity: Campus-Based Strategies for Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence.

    The national webinar is timed with a recent release of a 60-page report by the same name, said Dr. Aurélio Valente, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students, who led the GSU project and will present the university’s findings during the webinar hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The report can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

    In 2015, GSU received an Equity Grant from the (AAC&U) and Strada Education Network to explore equity-focused, campus-based methods to promote student success and retention in junior year, a critical year when many transfer students enter the university.

    GSU’s success strategies align with four goals and are dually aimed at faculty development for teaching diverse populations and eliminating equity gaps related to the retention of African-American transfer students by 2020.

    Valente said most schools identified working with faculty to improve achieve academic success through equity-based strategies. However, GSU distinguished itself as the only intuition to focus on transfer students.

    There will be time for Q&A during the webinar, and participants are welcome to send questions in advance to

  • Equity Project Resources and References


    Bensimon, Estela Mara, andLindsey Malcom-Piqueux. 2012. Confronting Equity Issues on Campus: Implementing the Equity Scorecard in Theory and Practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

    Flaherty, Colleen. 2016. “For Freshmen,Only Full-Time Faculty.Inside Higher Ed. March 22.    

    Johnson, Nate, and Alli Bell. 2014. Scaling Completion College Services as a Model for Increasing Adult Degree Completion. Indianapolis, IN: Lumina Foundation.

    Malcom-Piqueux, Lindsey, and Estela Mara Bensimon. 2017. “Taking Equity-Minded Action to Close Equity-Gaps.” Peer Review 19 (2).

    Rendon, Laura I., and Richard O. Hope, eds. 1996. Educating a New Majority: Transforming America’s Educational System for Diversity.San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.