Kentucky college councils focus on role of equity in student success

Colleges and universities in Kentucky are looking for new ways to close the equity gap among their students, through specialized training for their boards of directors.

Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education President Aaron Thompson explained that college governing councils can help increase student success, especially for people from historically marginalized communities.

“That relationship is about what data to use, how you use it, bringing people together,” Thompson said. “It’s an ability to create a whole new way of thinking about board formation.”

Thompson added that the measures adopted during the pandemic should help ease the financial burden on students.

According Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education datalast year, almost every school voted not to increase their tuition or fees from the previous year – largely because of the pandemic.

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

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

“We have several of our campuses with our councils involved,” Thompson said. “And we’re looking at it from our two-year campuses and our four-year campuses, making sure we’re providing that research.”

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

“Boards can get involved to help their students know there are better outcomes here,” Thompson said. “You get lifelong learning while you’re in college.”

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

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