ASPIRE Speaker Series — Dr. Frank Harris III
The ASPIRE Racial Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series continued in April with a workshop led by Dr. Frank Harris III, professor of postsecondary education and the co-director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab at San Diego State University. Dr. Harris’ workshop, “Strategic Planning for Equity and Institutional Transformation: Aligning Culture and Strategy,” discussed the key elements of strategic equity planning and proposed best practices with the goal of reaching institutional transformation for equity.
The nuanced and thoughtful workshop walked participants through the qualities of an equity-enriched culture and the qualities of good strategy, and that the intersection of the two is necessary for effective change. Dr. Harris made room for questions which was greatly appreciated by attendees as colleges are preparing to respond to the 2022 Amendment to the Illinois Board of Higher Education Act (HB5464), which will require institutions to develop and implement equity plans. One attendee shared that their main takeaway from the workshop was “the way culture and strategy interact shape the work in critical ways for different populations” and that they valued the “strategies for measuring disproportionate impact.”
Dr. Frank Harris III is best known for his expertise in racial inequity in postsecondary education and has made important contributions to knowledge about college student development and the social construction of gender and race in college contexts. His work prioritizes populations that have been historically underrepresented and underserved in education, and he has obtained competitive grants and extramural funding for his research. Harris’s scholarship has been published in leading journals for higher education and student affairs research and practice, and his commentary has been sought by high-profile media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Colleges and universities across the country consult Harris regularly for his expertise on student equity, student success, and institutional transformation, and he has worked with more than 100 postsecondary institutions, community organizations, and nonprofits on equity-related efforts. To learn more about his work, visit his website, or follow him on Twitter or Instagram!
The creation of the Accelerating Student Progress and Increasing Racial Equity (ASPIRE) project was in response to the Developmental Education Reform Act (DERA) which aims to address inequities in college completion among students of color and first-generation students. Passed in March 2021, the act requires public colleges in Illinois to reform their developmental education (dev ed) programs — the introductory math and English classes students may need to improve their skills before they can take a college-level math or English class — so that students can enter a credit-bearing, college-level math or English course by their second semester.
To read our refresher on the ASPIRE Project, click here.