Virtual Data & Equity Conference offers insights on equity inside and outside the classroom

Virtual Data & Equity Conference

Southwest’s Title III Team and the Equity & Inclusion Sub-Council hosted the College’s first Virtual Data & Equity Conference entitled, “Equity:  Pursuing Social and Economic Justice in Higher Education,” July 31 via MS Teams. More than 130 faculty and staff participated in the professional development opportunity centered on data-informed decision making to close equity gaps in student enrollment, retention and completion.

Southwest Associate Vice President for Retention and Student Success and Title II Project Director Dr. Jacqueline Taylor facilitated the event. She kicked off Part I of the conference with a short synopsis of the pursuit of social and economic justice in higher education as a moral imperative, stressing “equity inside and outside the classroom must be a whole college commitment,” and that student success is the highest priority.

The conference also featured remarks from Southwest Vice President of Student Affairs Jacqueline Faulkner and a keynote presentation by Tennessee Board of Regents Executive Vice Chancellor of Policy and Strategy Dr. Russ Deaton and Director of Policy Dr. Amy Moreland. Deaton and Moreland provided an overview of Southwest’s student success journey and praised the College for closing the equity gap between adult Black and White students, while providing insights around opportunities for growth.

Southwest, a 2020 Achieving the Dream Leader College, enrolls more adult students (age 25+) than any other community college in Tennessee. According to Deaton and Moreland, “Southwest students are completing gateway math and English courses at much higher rates than in the past. In English, Southwest students are outperforming other Tennessee community college students.”

Southwest’s Achieving the Dream (ATD) Leadership Coach, Dr. Susan Mayer, and Data Coach, Dr. Bobbie Frye, presented a data capacity café that provided a closer look into the equity gaps for the College’s top 20 gatekeeper courses for enrollment, while offering forward-thinking strategies around the improved data capacity and decision making that is evolving throughout the campus culture to increase Southwest student success outcomes.  Dr. Mayer shared insights regarding the need for “sense making” around equity data that helps with strategic planning that increases academic program development and completion in high-paying programs of study.