Clearing the Pathway to Inclusion

July 1, 2018

Prior to her involvement with Tulsa Community College, TCC Board of Trustees Regent Robin Ballenger thought of a university education the same way a lot of people do: “that it was a prize to be won, and you judged a college by how exclusive it was.” Photo of Robin Ballenger

Today, Ballenger is a Campaign for Completion donor and an active proponent of diversity and inclusion initiatives at TCC. “I really enjoyed having my thinking converted,” she says. “A good college is one that gathers up as many people as it can and helps to educate them rather than exclude them.”

Robin casts a vision of a city where “citizens are educated and have a chance at well-paying jobs that can support their families … with time to think about civic concerns without worrying about money every minute.”

 

“A good college is one that gathers up as many people as it can and helps to educate them rather than exclude them.” Robin casts a vision of a city where “citizens are educated and have a chance at well-paying jobs that can support their families … with time to think about civic concerns without worrying about money every minute.”

 

Photo of Eunice TarverWhen it came time for The Campaign for Completion, Ballenger worked closely with TCC leadership to figure out how she could specifically designate her giving to enhancing equality. Now, Diversity and Inclusion Outreach is the sixth and final sub goal of The Campaign.

Successful diversity can seem like an intangible and ambitious goal, but faculty members like Provost Eunice Tarver, who leads the diversity and inclusion effort for TCC, are dedicated to making the whole issue easier to understand. They have adopted The Equity Scorecard program developed by the University of Southern California to measure and drive progress.

REal Success

 

Real Success Means Equitable Outcomes

Through the regular, active engagement of faculty, staff and administrators, the Scorecard process will track progress in four specific areas:

1. Access

2. Retention

3. Excellence

4. Completion

This mindset is unique, largely because it follows students all the way through their educational journey, focusing on equitable outcomes, not just initial access.

“So, when our students graduate, if 38% of them are students of color we want to be graduating 38% of color. If we have 40% first-generation students coming to our institution, we want to see that 40% of our graduates are first-generation students,” explains Tarver. “We’re going to be that community college where we can truly boast that anyone who comes to our institution has equal opportunity at meeting their educational goals and dreams.”

 

“We’re going to be that community college where we can truly boast that anyone who comes to our institution has equal opportunity at meeting their educational goals and dreams.”

 

Photo of TCC staff member helping students

 

How is Equity Achieved?

TCC leadership has already identified several actionable steps towards achieving diversity and inclusion.

Special completion grants are one tool that play a significant role. In 2015 when Tarver and her team began digging into student data related to diversity, several distinct patterns emerged around financial barriers. “Some [minority group students] had as high as a 4.0 and something as small as $200 or $300 preventing them from returning to college and completing their degree.”

Another effort already proven to boost diversity is the Summer Bridge Program, designed to better equip first-generation students for college in the fall. “I am actually a graduate of a summer bridge program and a first generation student coming from a working-class family,” Tarver shares. “I can tell you that the experience over the summer absolutely transformed my college trajectory.”

 

“I am actually a graduate of a summer bridge program and a first generation student coming from a working-class family. I can tell you that the experience over the summer absolutely transformed by college trajectory.”

 

Finally, TCC is also taking a top-down approach through a Diverse Faculty Fellowship Program, providing valuable opportunities for diverse young teachers and staff. A wide body of national research demonstrates that this representation is a key element in equipping underrepresented student populations for success. “We made a commitment to reflect the community we serve in our faculty and staff,” says Tarver.

TCC Student working in a lab

Diversity as an Investment

As a TCC Regent, Ballenger serves as an example of investment in the college. “I can tell you that President Goodson worries about every penny that comes in … that we maximize the contribution while honoring the donor's intent.”

On the faculty side, Tarver is grateful for people and programs oriented towards long-term success. “[The Equity Scorecard] is both a process and a data tool … instead of just focusing on best practices … they are also producing best practitioners,” she says. “At the end of the work, it’s sustainable.”

“We want to be an institution where any student who enters TCC has full opportunity to complete with minimal barriers because we’ve been so thoughtful and mindful about our processes and practices and programs. We want to truly empower students with what they need to be successful in their degree goals.”

 

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