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. 

Apply for Spring 2018 Mini-Grants

To advance work on our campus goals, Faculty teaching transfers students (particularly those teaching Junior Seminars) and staff working with transfers are encouraged to apply for the next cycle of grants available for the Spring 2018 semester. To submit a qualifying proposal, at least one grant applicant should have participated in a past pre-submittal workshop or schedule an informational meeting with any member of the Campus Project Team (see roster below). For more information, contact Dr. Aurélio Manuel Valente, chair of the GSU Campus Planning Team for the Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence project.

For full consideration, grants should be submitted by December 4, 2017. (Grant Application PDF)

Nine GSU Faculty and Staff Named Fall 2017 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 for Fall 2017:

  • Amy Schoenberg, “Implementing the Global Service Learning Scholar Award to Improve Equity and Inclusive Excellence”
  • Lara C. Stache, “Creative Communication Strategies: Public Relations and the Retention of African-American Transfer Juniors”
  • Matthew Cooney and Maristela Zell, “An Appreciative Study of African-American Women Students at Governors State University who Successfully Navigated the Junior Year”
  • Alexis Sarkisian, “GSU Library and Career Services Satellite Partnership”
  • Giesela Grumbach and Pamela Brown, “Pathways to Success: A Career Group Mentoring Program”
  • Serena Wadhwa, “Sircle of Sisters (S.o.S.)”
  • Sulbha Wagh, “A Crash Course in Chemical Literacy”


  • 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.