UW-Madison’s Clifton Conrad recently co-authored an op-ed for the Huffington Post headlined, “To Educate a Diverse Nation, Topple the Ivory Tower.”
Conrad is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and a faculty member with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He is also an affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE).
The op-ed notes: “The graduation rate for minority students falls far below the nationwide average. Our colleges and universities are not succeeding at educating students with diverse backgrounds. In an increasingly competitive global economy, our country cannot afford this waste of time, money and talent.”
Over the course of three years, Conrad and co-author Marybeth Gasman visited a dozen minority-serving institutions (MSIs), “all of which counter to mainstream higher education thinking.”
The op-ed continues: “These colleges acknowledge that traditionally underrepresented students face challenges that go far beyond paying tuition. These range from family obligations to fear and uncertainty about the meaning of college to "math shame" and speaking English as a second language. In response, the colleges have toppled the traditional hierarchies and responsibilities of faculty, staff, and students. Everyone is expected to understand the challenges students face, and in turn, take responsibility for their learning and progress. Faculty, staff and students themselves embrace multiple roles: mentor, counselor, navigator and teacher.”
Conrad and Gasman conclude that “every college can benefit from these three lessons: embrace blended roles and responsibilities, reject competition at the expense of collaboration, and link students' college experience with their personal lives and communities.”
The essay was also covered in the Capital Times.
To read the full article, visit the Huffington Post website.